If you love eating rice then one of the things that will always be present in your kitchen is a rice cooker. Why not? It’s easy to use, convenient and more importantly, can cook perfect rice in a blink of an eye. But how to choose the best rice cooker? You’ll find out below.
There are a lot of options that you can choose from with rice to make it more interesting. Did you know that there are special types of rice cookers that can do more than just cook plain white rice? Thanks to modern technology, the humble rice cookers that you are used to, now come with additional interesting settings.
But first, how did rice cookers come about?
A Journey To The Origin Of Rice Cookers
Nothing like kicking back and taking a look at how rice cookers came to be. Japan is one of the countries that first introduced modern rice cookers, however, they also used a traditional version of rice cookers to be able to cook the rice that they eat.
The community mainly called the first rice cooker as denshijaa 電子でんしジャー or the suihanki 炊飯器すいはんき, but more locally they were known to many as kamados. Kamados are rice cookers from large stoves where you can place large pots in them to start cooking rice.
The heat was integral to cooking rice in kamados, knowing that they are built from clay and brick fragments, they need a strong amount of fire which came from many logs. Rice was stapled food, but it didn’t mean that cooking them was easy before, people in the Kofun era had to make it with what they had.
Rice Cookers: Slowly Evolving With Technology
The good thing about technology is that it did not stop the improvement of rice cookers. Gradually, electric rice stoves came into the picture. They are generally easier to use than kamados and instead of pots, they use stoves and tubs. Instead of logs, people used heating coils.
Fast forward to the era of electric cookers where various electric companies started vying to make the first ever commercially successful rice cookers.
As this was an important kitchen appliance in Japan, a lot of Japanese companies like Mitsubishi, Sony, Matsushita, and Toshiba each made their own versions.
Many versions came forth and they ranged from simple looking rice cookers with heating coils located in the tubs. The problem with many of these is that they were still not too convenient for people to use. These modern electric rice cookers were basically left to dust by the majority of people.
Now before you say that Toshiba shouldn’t be on the list of failures, here’s when the company finally is able to give justice to what electric rice cookers should be like. There was one thing that all the older electric rice cookers lacked, and that is automation. If you want to know more how to use a rice cooker, you’ll find out here.
People looked for convenience and Toshiba decided to give it to them. Thus, the birth of the first commercially accepted electric rice cookers. This version finally had an automatic response signaling you that the rice has been cooked perfectly.
Main Types Of Rice Cookers
You can find two major types of modern electric rice cookers that are you can find nowadays. Even if you think that they all seem the same, there are main features that set them apart from one another.
Traditional And Jar-o-Mat Rice Cookers
- Generally small rice cookers. You can find only one-touch buttons on their
- These models can only cook plain rice.
- Very user-friendly even to first-time users.
- Heating element is usually at the bottom part of the pot and some models install these heating elements on the lid.
- Since traditional rice cookers have a hole in the lid, heat escapes faster.
Micro-computerized or fuzzy logic rice cookers
- For modern rice cookers embedded with programs, they are able to follow the user’s behavior.
- Rice cookers like these can actually make the cooking decisions for you.
- The rice cooker can collect data through your cooking habits and can pattern how the food is cooked inside.
- If you are a user that does not want to be tied down to regular settings, then this type is for you.
An example of one of the best fuzzy logic rice cookers – zojirushi NS-ZCC10/18
Basic Features Of A Good Rice Cooker
Below are some of the most common criteria for rice cookers. These features are very important if we think about a device suited to our needs.
Rice cookers vary when it comes size. There are smaller ones, medium ones, and larger ones. You will have to decide what type of rice cooker would fit you and your family. if you live alone then the smallest size would fit you just well.
Timers are very important on rice cookers because they give you an idea when the rice will be cooked. See to it that you’re comfortable with the type of timer the rice cooker you wish to buy has.
Rice cooker pots
It’s important that the rice cooker pot has a non-stick surface. This is because you would not want the rice to be sticking on the bottom part or the edges of the pot when you are cleaning them. There are many types of non-stick surfaces that you can choose from.
Many rice cookers nowadays are multifunctional. This is because of the growing demand for people who want to cook more than rice on their respective rice cooker. This is where you decide whether you want a rice cooker that cooks only plain rice, or you go for those that have multiple settings.
When it comes to more sophisticated rice species such as sweet rice or arborio rice, not every rice cooker has a default option that allows you to cook such rice.
Settings and programming
Prices of rice cookers vary because of the settings and programming. This is where technology gives a helping hand. The more expensive the rice cooker is, the more settings they have and this is because of the amount of technology that is embedded in them.
What To Consider When Rice Cooker Hunting
- Your cooking practices– If you cook rice a lot this will matter. The number of times in a day that you cook rice, plus the number of cups that you use to cook rice will all matter. If you cook less, buy a smaller rice cooker, if you cook more, buy a bigger one so that you can cook all the needed cups in one go.
- What types of rice you usually cook-There are people who prefer eating other types of rice from time to time, and you have to think about this as well. If you like red rice, brown rice, or making soups an porridge, you are better off with multifunctional rice cookers then the regular one.
- Choose between the main types of rice cookers– Make sure that you understand which from the types of rice cookers available will suit you the best. Know the differences of traditional, jar-o-mat and micro-computerized rice cookers.
- Brands are important-It matters that you consider the durability, design, quality, and flexibility of the rice cooker. The better the brand, then the better the rice cookers that you can buy.
Should You Buy Cheap Or Expensive Rice Cooker?
Many always believe that the more expensive the price is, the better. However, this is not always the case especially when it comes to rice cookers.
The main difference in the prices of rice cookers would be because of the technology that is embedded in them.
This is why fuzzy logic rice cookers are more expensive than one-push button rice cookers. If you want a rice cooker that has more features then you can go for the more expensive fuzzy logic types.
If you just want a rice cooker that does its job well aka cooking rice, then you can go with traditional rice cookers.
Problem solved? You’re nearly there, hang on!
It all depends on your choice really, but a good choice would be deciding whether you want to save and settle for regular rice cookers, or if you want to invest and go for high tech rice cookers that have all the fancy settings.
If you decide to buy rice cooker, remember to take care of it properly.
So How to Choose the Best Rice Cooker? What Should You Do?
Overall, rice lovers will love rice in whatever form they may take. Make sure that you choose a rice cooker that you can afford and you can use well. The more that you cook, the more features that you will need from your rice cookers.
The biggest trend nowadays is getting multifunctional rice cookers. These are rice cookers that are mid-range in price but can give you the settings and the features that high tech rice cookers offer.
It’s a good option when you want to experience the best of both worlds and if you are also willing to shell out more than the price of traditional rice cookers.
There is so much more you could learn about rice cookers. Wondering what amazing food you can cook using these little lifesavers? Check out more articles from this blog and find out how you can pump up that simple rice meal and make it look like it came from a fancy restaurant!