Popular around the world, electric rice cookers are very versatile pieces of equipment, and are commonly found in both households and restaurants. Along with cooking large portions of white rice, modern rice cookers can cook brown rice, risottos, broths, and steam vegetables. One of the main benefits of an electric rice cooker is its simplicity and ease of use. All the user has to do is add the correct amount of rice and water, and the machine will automatically cook the ingredients for a set amount of time. Electric rice cookers take the guesswork out of cooking and offer a convenient alternative to watching rice boil.
A rice cooker will save you time and aggravation by producing a perfect pot of rice at the push of the button. While the rice is being cooked, you can prepare other parts of the dish or do something else entirely. You don’t need to be in the kitchen while the rice cooks, because rice cookers will automatically shut off when the rice is fluffy and well cooked.
The Major Types of Rice Cookers
Similar to other appliances, there are many makes and models of rice cooker and each one has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Conventional Rice Cookers
Sporting a simple and intuitive design, conventional rice cookers are simply a vessel that the rice cooks in without any extra features. After adding rice and water to the cooker, you simply push a button and the device heats up to the ideal temperature for cooking rice. After a set amount of time, the heat turns off and the rice is ready to be eaten. Conventional rice cookers can cook brown rice and sushi rice with a few adjustments, but they are optimized for cooking white rice.
Micro-Computerized Rice Cooker
A modern variation on the conventional rice cooker, the micro-computerized rice cooker comes equipped with a small chip that detects and regulates the cooking time and internal temperature. The microchip uses thermo sensors to calculate how long the rice has to cook and reacts to changes in internal temperature by changing the estimated time to completion. Sometimes referred to as a micom cooker, a micro-computerized rice cooker works well with any type of rice and has more built-in settings and safety features than a conventional cooker.
Induction Heated Micro-Computerized Rice Cooker
Incorporating a new heating method into the classic cooker design, an induction heated rice cooker doesn’t heat the contents from the bottom of the inner pan. Instead, the heat is evenly distributed across the entire pan, which makes cooking faster and more precise. Controlled by a microcomputer, the rice cooker will maintain the optimal temperature for cooking rice though the whole device, without requiring any additional input from the user.
One of the added benefits of using induction heating is that the cooker’s microprocessor can make finer temperature adjustments than with a conventional cooker. The entire internal plate is heated evenly making temperature reading very accurate and minute adjustments more noticeable.
Pressurized Induction Heated Micro Computerized Rice Cooker
A combination of pressure cooker technology and modern rice cooker design, the pressure rice cooker raises the cooking temperature to a very high level, which cooks the rice quickly and efficiently. By adding pressure to the cooking process, the consistency of the rice changes, making it softer, fluffier, and easier to digest. The majority of high-end electric rice cookers use pressure and induction heat to cook the rice, and most of the rice eaten at Chinese restaurants comes from a pressurized induction-heated micro-computerized rice cooker.
Some Things to Consider
One of the first things to consider when purchasing a rice cooker is how often you will use the device. If you eat rice every day, then a dedicated rice cooker is a must-have; but if you prefer eating other types of meals, then you should consider something more versatile than the base model. Keep in mind that an electric rice cooker can be used to cook things besides rice. For many people, an electric rice cooker is a permanent kitchen fixture because they use it daily. High-end rice cookers can be used to cook almost any rice-based food and have a wide array of presets to accommodate different recipes.
How Many People are You Feeding?
Different rice cookers come in a wide variety of capacities that are usually measured in cups of uncooked rice. As a rule, the ratio between the size of the cooked and uncooked rice is about two to one, and one person eats about a cup of uncooked rice during a meal. Keep in mind that it’s always good to cook a little extra.
The average consumer rice cooker has a capacity ranging from one cup to ten cups; anything larger than that is considered a commercial, or processional, rice cooker, and is only found in restaurants. For small families of two to three people, a four-cup rice cooker is recommended. For an average sized family of four to six people, a seven-cup rice cooker is recommended. Anyone with over six people in their family should consider purchasing a ten-cup rice cooker.
What Features Will You Use The Most?
With the addition of induction heating and micro computerized components, the simple electric rice cooker has been brought to a modern standard for technology. Unfortunately, some people won’t have a use for the new heating and pressure features because they simply want to use the device for making white rice. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who use an electric rice cooker daily and greatly appreciate the advanced cooking functions.
When purchasing an electric rice cooker, figure out how often you’ll use the machine and what you’ll use it for. That will help you decide which cooker is best for you. Whether you prefer a no-nonsense conventional rice cooker or a pressurized, induction heated, micro computerized cooker, there’s always a model that will suit your needs
Is it Easy to Use and Clean?
A rice cooker is a relatively simple kitchen appliance and can be used without any previous training or experience. For some users the buttons and internal menus can be confusing, but all manufacturers provide some form of user manual. If you get stuck and don’t know what button to push simply consult the manual and any confusion will be cleared up. That being said, if a rice cooker appears to be more complicated than it needs to be, you might want to consider purchasing a simpler model.
Compared to cleaning rice out of the bottom of a pot, cleaning an electric rice cooker is much more straightforward. Many electric rice cookers come with a non-stick inner pan, so all you need to do is soak the pan in water and the cooked rice will slide off. It doesn’t add very much to the overall price to purchase a cooker with a non-stick inner pan, so it’s an excellent option to be on the lookout for.
Many rice cookers offer basic features such as cook and keep-warm settings, but many models also come with some modern updates (info here). The average electric rice cooker has one-touch operation, so after adding the rice and water, the user can push the cook button and the machine will do the rest of the work. Many electric rice cookers come with a removable non-stick bowl and lid so the device can be cleaned out without any added hassle. Specialty rice cookers come with a handy steaming basket, so you can steam vegetables, fish, and poultry using your rice cooker.
High-end rice cookers use what’s commonly referred to as fuzzy logic technology, which senses changes in the internal temperature and automatically adjusts the timer to cook the rice with added precision. Units with fuzzy logic technology can do a lot more than simply cook white rice. They can cook and steam brown rice, sushi rice, soups, and grains, without any issues. Fuzzy logic can detect the contents and automatically adjust its settings to suit the dish, which makes it a very important part of many electric rice cookers. In many models, a digital control panel is added to increase ease of use.
Cooking rice usually requires constant attention to ensure that the rice cooks properly, but the advent of the electric rice cooker has taken the uncertainty and trouble out of cooking rice. At the push of a button, you can make enough rice to feed over six people, and there’s a much smaller chance of burning or undercooking the rice. Unless you’re using a pressurized rice cooker, the overall cooking time of the rice doesn’t usually change, but it leaves the user with more time to do other things instead of tending to the rice. Whether you’re using an advanced convection heating system or a traditional rice cooker, the concept remains the same. The user can spend more time preparing other parts of the meal instead of tending to the rice. Then, after a few minutes, the rice is ready to be enjoyed. After putting in the ingredients, all the user has to do is press a button and the rice will cook.
How to Use a Rice Cooker?
After buying a rice cooker, it’s important to know how to use it. Read the instruction manual carefully and read through our tips and tricks on how to use an electric rice cooker and make it to an useful household appliance.
For more information on how to use a rice cooker, watch the youtube video for a very good explanation.