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If you are a cooking rice three or more times a week then you should be thinking of the possibility of getting your hands on a rice cooker.
Rice cookers will allow you to cook different types of rice perfectly every time with little fuss.
This will suit those who are passionate about the quality of rice that they eat but may not always have the time to create the perfect rice dish. Rice cookers can also be used for other things like steaming vegetables or making quinoa in your rice cooker and even soups.
They are not for those who want to get meals done super fast as they take a little more time than conventional cooking, but will require less attention.
For those who like to be a bit adventurous and love gadgets, this may just be the thing to invest in.
Getting it right with a rice cooker can be easy if you know a bit about your rice and invest a little bit of time learning to use it.
Like all gadgets knowing what you need from it and the price range that you are working with will go a long way in helping you find the right one for you.
I have tried to address some of the questions in this article.
Read our rice cooker reviews here
Rice needs lots of water and lots of heat to get the grain from a hard little grain to big, fluffy and tasty.
With a rice cooker you are taking a measured amount of rice and water and are allowing this process to happen without human intervention.
When you are cooking rice in an on/off rice cooker there are 4 main stages that it will go through.
- Sitting in water
- Absorbing water (steaming)
Basically rice cookers automatically guide the rice through these stages. Inside the appliance you will find:
- Main Body – holding it all together
- An inner cooking pan – where the rice cooks
- An electric heating plate – that will do all the cooking
- A thermal sensing “switch”- that regulates the temperature through weight and temperature.
The process for cooking rice like this is relatively simple. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius) and no matter how much heat you apply it stays at this temperature, so as long as there is water in the inner pan with the rice. When the rice absorbs all of the water it will start to get hotter then the rice cooker will sense this and switch off or just switch to warming mode. Your rice is now cooked and if the guidelines have been followed you have a pretty decent serving of rice to give your hungry eaters.
While the basic principles are the same, there are some major differences. Fuzzy logic cookers have computer chips that allow the cooker to make adjustments to the process. Without going into the technical details, it all boils down to the rice cooker being able to make “judgement calls” similar to those a person might make when cooking. In this case, rice, and usually much better then you and I could make (yes you might just be looking at a kitchen appliance this is smarter then you!)
This method takes this all up to a whole new level of precision. The process is quite complicated and involves magnets, resistance and ultimately very well controlled heating (here is the required reading for you techies out there http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Induction_cooking)
The bottom line to this method is that the temperature sensing methods are far more accurate and this system allows for a much finer tuned control in temperature. The heater is the entire inner cooking pan, the sides and the base – so cooking is more evenly spread.
The temperature can be changed in an instant because it is controlled though the magnetic field generating the heat.
What this gives you, is a cooker that can adjust for human error when measurements are made to ensure the best possible chance of scoring the perfect rice dish.
If you are interested in Induction cooking check out our Induction cooktops guide
Generally you can cook all types of rices in rice cookers. (Brown rice, wild rice, sweet rice, white rice, Basmati rice and Jasmine Rice) There are a number of cook books out there that deal with this and would be able to help you. Again, depending on what sort of rice cooker you are looking to buy will have some impact on that and it would be important to check this out in the product spec.
Read our guides on how to cook different types of rice in a rice cooker:
How do I cook risotto in a rice cooker?
How to cook jasmine rice in a rice cooker?
How to cook wild rice in a rice cooker?
How to make brown rice in a rice cooker?
How to make quinoa in a rice cooker?
How to make sticky rice in a rice cooker?
how to make sushi rice in a rice cooker?
How to cook white rice in a rice cooker
Other rice cooker frequently asked questions
Rice Cookers can also be used as a steamer for vegetables and even in making soup in some models. When you are looking for a rice cooker, it would be a good idea to to think about the other things that you do in the kitchen that might be made easier with a rice cooker – In other words kill two birds with one stone..
A good question to ask your self while you are looking around at the various models is – Why would you need a rice cooker in your home?
Here are some points to think about :
- How often do you cook rice at home? – if you are cooking rice often (3 or more times a week) then this might be a good investment for you
- How big is your kitchen? – If you have a small kitchen this might not be ideal , but if you don’t have enough stove space when you are cooking then this might just be perfect.
- Are you fussy about the rice that you cook? – with these appliances you can make rice perfectly every time – easily as well. This is not always the case when you cook it conventionally
- Can you afford the cooker best suited to your needs? – there is no point in buying something that does not fit your needs. Make sure you know what you need the cooker for, as well as what you can afford and start from there.
There are a whole range of cookers on the market and they range in quality and price. For me what makes a good rice cooker (or any gadget really) is one that fits exactly what I need it to do. We have reviewed some on this site that best meet a range of requirements, but ultimately this is will be down to what you are looking for. There should be no compromise on this as these are luxury items that require an investment. Simply put, good investments are ones that bring in the results that you want them to. Have a look at our rice cooker reviews
They can really range anywhere from $30 to up to $1000. There is an incredible range in quality and abilities. Unless you are restricted with budget I would start to looking around the $100 mark and see what is there.
This ranges from about 3 cups right up to 11 and more for the bigger ones although I don’t know many families where that amount of rice is needed. Bearing in mind that a cup and a half will feed three people (more-or-less). You should think about the size of your family, how often you cook for more then just your family and things like how much your family eats.