How a Rice Cooker Works?
A standard rice cooker consists of five primary parts: the main body, a tight-sealing lid, thermostat, inner cooking pot, and electric heating plate(s). Multipurpose rice cookers may employ sensors and steam vents to prevent the contents from boiling quickly and then ultimately spilling out across your countertop.
The heating plate is permanently installed in the interior of the main body’s bottom. After the cooker is powered on and the inner pot is placed into the cooking base, the plate will start heating on a warm setting.
To begin the cooking process, you’ll need to push down the control switch to the “cook” position so heat converted from electric current can be transferred to the pot and into the rice via the heating plate.
As the cooker is heating, the water will boil and vaporize into steams at 212°F. That steam will then get absorbed into the rice and help soften the starch. Some varieties of rice take longer to absorb water than others. That’s not the only source of variation, though.
There are a number of materials used to make your cooking pan, and the specific material will affect how evenly heat gets distributed. But generally, you may generally get steamed fluffy rice in about 20 minutes.
The built-in thermostat is designed to control the heat source, making sure the rice won’t burn and the water won’t boil over. To be more precise, once “noticing” all the water has been absorbed and the pot is heating quicker, the thermostat will automatically switch the heating element to its ‘keep warm’ cycle.
Speaking of the keep warm setting, even the most basic rice cookers will include this function, which is really handy if you want a second helping of heated rice halfway through your meal. There will be warm, fluffy rice whenever you choose to eat.
How to Choose the Best Rice Cooker
Now that we understand the basics of how a rice cooker functions, let’s think about how to choose the right one. On the surface, they usually tend to look very similar, especially to the untrained eye. That’s why we’re going to outline some important points to consider before purchasing a rice cooker.
There are various types of rice cookers on the market, including microwave, standard, micom, and induction-heating rice cookers.
Microwave Rice Cooker
Besides keeping more counter space free, they also cut cooking time in half compared to a standard rice cooker. They’re inexpensive (under $40) and generally dishwasher-safe.
Standard Rice Cooker
Standard rice cookers are commonly used in Asian countries, with some of the most famous ones produced in Japan. With many more functions and features than microwave rice cookers, you can use them to stew beef, steam veggies, or even bake cakes.
Most standard rice cookers use a single heating element, so they cook quite quickly, giving you cooked rice in only 20 to 30 minutes. Because the heat is concentrated only at the bottom, However, the rice may not be perfect every time. It can turn out crunchy or mushy if cooked with the wrong amount of water.
If cost is your priority, such models are the least expensive electric rice cookers, mostly retailing at between $15 and $50. Furthermore, they come in different sizes to serve different purposes, from small (3 cups of raw rice) to extra large (20 cups of raw rice).
Micom Rice Cooker
Simply speaking, micom rice cookers are standard rice cookers that include built-in microchips. They can automatically adjust the cooking time and temperature, resulting in perfect fluffy rice every single time.
In layman’s terms, micom rice cookers are plug-and-play appliances that will get the job done on their own, saving you precious time to tend to other tasks. They have an abundance of preset cooking modes for specific foods such as white rice, brown rice, sushi rice, or porridge. This makes them not only more convenient but also more expensive than conventional rice cookers.
Reliable micom rice cookers may cost around $70. But prices can go as high as $210 or more for the high-end models, depending on the feature set.
Induction-Heating Rice Cooker
These are the most expensive models of all, with prices running between $200 and $500. While standard cookers distribute heat from the bottom up, these fancy rice cookers create an induction heating zone by employing the entire inner pot as a heating element.
Unlike other types, induction-heating rice cookers don’t have an electric heating plate on the bottom. The integrated induction coil ‘induces’ the magnetic heating in the metal that makes up the inner pot’s body. This means it can distribute heat far more evenly, thus delivering better textured rice while also consuming less energy.
The capacity of a rice cooker is defined by how much cooked or uncooked rice can comfortably fit in the cooking pot. You will find that this ranges from 1 to 46 scoops, equating to a small portion to enough for a whole banquet.
Note: When manufacturers talk about uncooked rice capacity, they’re talking about the measuring cup that is included with the cooker. Though they sometimes refer to the measurement as a ‘cup,’ they are NOT talking about standard US measuring cups.
Rice cookers intended for home use can usually handle 1 to 10 cups of uncooked rice at a time. For families of four, something in the 4-5 cup range may do the job.
If you plan on using one for commercial purposes, then you should find models that can accommodate up to 46 cups at a time.
Your available kitchen space is also important to consider. Naturally, larger-capacity cookers have larger footprints. Decide how much counter space you want to devote to the cooker so that you choose the model that fits perfectly.
3. The Inner Pot’s Coating
The inner pot of your rice cooker is usually coated with a nonstick layer of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) or ceramic. There are also uncoated pots made from stainless steel, but they’re not so common.
Ceramic: This material has been around longer than PTFE and seems to allow for stronger food release. Most of the time they’re tougher too — you should still avoid scratching ceramics, but the material won’t scratch or chip off as easily as Teflon.
Stainless steel: This man-made material has a high heat capacity, but it doesn’t conduct heat as well as PTFE. Being among the most durable, it is tough enough to last without rusting and tarnishing over time. Since its surface isn’t nonstick, however, dealing with burnt-on rice may be more challenging.
- Although a nonstick coating may be scratched by metal utensils, there is no evidence to prove this could affect your health, as stated by the American Cancer Society.
- Most inner pots are marketed as dishwasher safe, but their exteriors may be damaged by the abrasive nature of dishwasher detergents. So, washing by hand is better in the long term.
4. Tight-Sealing Lid
The sealed lid feature is another standard for most rice cookers. A tight seal on the lid may either steam from escaping or allow it to escape in a controlled manner. This helps it maintain a stable temperature while the rice is being cooked. It also ensures that each batch of fluffy rice is perfectly done in a reasonable amount of time.
If you buy a standard rice cooker whose lid is entirely removable, it may release a lot of steam during the cooking process, which can be dangerous when you’re nearby. The upshot is that removable lids are easier to clean and less likely to retain odors.
Cleaning micom or induction-heating rice cookers takes a little more work — you can’t dunk the body of the machine in water, after all. Before buying, it’s best to make sure that the inner lid can be detached.
Remove this inner lid and wash it separately. Then wipe down the gasket area of the outer lid with a damp cloth. If not properly cleaned after each use, rice or other detritus may get stuck around the gasket. It can start to stink and also impact the quality of your rice.
5. Electric Heating Plate
The durability and cooking efficiency of a rice cooker may be partly determined by the heating plate’s quality. That’s why you should avoid choosing low-end rice cookers from unreliable brands. These devices may often have substandard heating plates that are more prone to short-circuiting.
Not only that, but a poorly-constructed heating plate may also fail to fully cook your rice. There’s not much you can do to fix a weak heating element.
Or occasionally, you may find a rice cooker whose heating plate and inner pot don’t seat tightly against each other. Such machines are defective and can be unsafe to use.
6. Other Features
Many affordable rice cookers come with a timer. With this option, you can delay the start of the cooking process for up to 23 hours after loading the pot with rice and water. This is a great feature for those with little time to prepare meals. They may also have steamer racks which allow users to steam vegetables, fish, or even dessert while the rice is cooking.
High-end models often feature smart controls, which let users monitor the cooking progress via an app. Some even have an alert or musical tone that informs you when the rice is ready to serve. These are nice extras, but we don’t think they are entirely necessary.
5.2 Qt Comfee' Multi-Function Rice Cooker – Best Stainless Steel Rice Cooker
With up to 17 digital cooking programs, the COMFEE’ is the most versatile cooker on our list. From cooking rice to steaming veggies and baking cakes, this all-in-one appliance can do it all, quickly and effortlessly. Together with a distinctive brushed stainless steel housing, the cooker ensures to suit your kitchen decor as well as helping you cook like a pro.
With a 5.2-quart capacity, the COMFEE’ has a decent amount of cooking space to handle upto 20 cups of cooked rice, which is enough for small parties or families of 6-8 persons. Beyond its versatility, large capacity, and strong decorative appeal, this unit also stands out from the rest with its exclusive inner pot.
Coated with a honeycomb pattern nonstick surface, the COMFEE’ inner pot comes with the advantages of promoting greater thermal conductivity, more even heat distribution, and easier food release.
The pot is 2.0 mm thick, which helps a great deal in preserving steam and heat for perfect cooked rice every time. You might also be pleased to hear that the pot cooking surface is highly scratch-resistant, allowing you to cook with all types of utensils (except for those with sharp edges). It is even dishwasher safe for hassle free cleaning.
The control panel looks quite complicated but it is very easy to use. To start cooking, simply select the desired cooking program after turning on the machine, and then press the Start button. The cooker also allows you to adjust the temperature and cooking time to give you more control over your cooking.
Like most multifunction cookers, the COMFEE’ also features a keep-warm setting, allowing you to keep your cooked food at serving temperature for up to 12 hours. Just keep in mind that this function cannot be applied to Yogurt and Saute settings.
Apart from being used to cook all kinds of rice, the COMFEE’ is also good for a variety of other uses, like steaming, stewing, and baking. If your finances are still functioning properly, why not pick out an all-in-one model that will provide you with much more modern advancements? For sure, this will be the most versatile appliances in your kitchen.
Article reposted with permission from healthykitchen101.com, author: Luna Regina.