Rice is one of the world’s great staples. Without it much of the population throughout the world would be food poor because it is one of the main sources of carbohydrate for many. However if you are like me, cooking rice is not a straightforward job. I have often boiled a pot to the point where I have let the rice dry our completely, I’ve not cooked it enough or I have managed to turn it into a sticky glue. Preparing rice can be very dispiriting when it goes wrong ! Preparing perfect fluffy rice is as much an art as it is a science.
Here we look at the electric rice cooker and some of the models which have met many of the customer’s requirements in producing perfectly cooked rice.
What Is A Rice Cooker ?
The electric rice cooker was first developed in Japan because there were so many demands on housewives that pressing a button and cooking this staple seemed a no-brainer. Since then, this key electrical appliance has developed into a device which can not only cook rice but prepare other grains and sushi rice.
The rice cooker is simply a an electrically heated bowl which is thermostatically controlled. As well as being able to remove the bowl to serve the rice, the real brains is in the algorithms sued to manage temperature including both start-up and cooling. On the face of it they are simple pieces of kit but they have made cooking rice a simple pleasure allowing the chef to deal with other cooking issues.
How Does An Electric Rice Cooker Work ?
Essentially, a portion of rice is placed in the bowl and a defined portion of water is added. During cooking the rice grains absorb the very hot water which alters the starches (the carbohydrates) in the rice and so do the cooking. Normal cooking times will be about 30 minutes. The electric rice cooker is an automatic version of adding hot, steaming water to rice and then boiling it until the rice tastes soft enough without going mushy.
A good bowl should be non-stick. None of the electric rice cookers should allow the rice to burn or stick to the bowl so make sure you check the reviews to see if anybody has had a serious issue with these devices where this problem was concerned. If rice is still in the bowl but not wanted then simply place in a washing up bowl and fill with water because the rice should come away extremely easy.
Most cookers should have three functions, the cook, a steam and warming function so look for these as standard. The ‘keep warm’ function is often switched manually but there are models to look for which do this automatically. Rice probably tastes better if it is allowed to rest a while. Remember, do not expose rice to the atmosphere for too long (say for more than 2 hours) because of the risk of contamination with food toxin producing bacteria.
Who Are The Leading Brands ?
The industry has produce some very well known names in electrical goods and most of them with pretensions to supplying cooking devices have designed a rice cooker worthy of inclusion in this review. One of the most famous names is Russell Hobbs. Take a look at a few of their models:-
This model is rather unusual because not only can you cook rice in its electrically heated bowl but there is a steaming tray provided for cooking your vegetables. Many reviewers have commented on how effective the longevity of the unit compared to other models they have bought. Many of the other reviewers are annoyed the cooking bowl is not dishwashable but this must be a small point for what is such a good machine. The current pricing also sets it up as an above average model. We notice that it is often discounted so check the marketing sites regularly and we place it at the beginning of the review because of its versatility. The rice and veg. combo must surely suit the health conscious – surely !
Reishunger is not as well known a brand but is big in Germany where it comes from. Given German engineering and design they have a fabulous rice cooker offer. For many it is the top product in many reviews, mainly for its high performance in delivering well cooked rice and by well-cooked meaning that it is perfect time after time.
The bowl size is ideal for cooking for large families. It appears to be easy to use and only requires about 1.5 cups of water to help boil the rice. A variety of rice products including whole grains, golden and sushi rice can be cooked. We have also heard of others making paella in this machine but that hasn’t been corroborated. Most of their models have a keep warm mode. Said to be a good starting rice cooker for those not that familiar with the device.
Geepas 1.8L Rice Cooker
Chosen because this one could keep a large family going in rice because of its large bowl size. Not that well known yet but it has all the functions needed so try it out.
A neat and compact rice cooker for those who are doing small portions or cooking for just two. Does 4 cups according to their product description. This device will automatically switch to a ‘keep warm’ mode once it has cooked the rice which is not always evident on other machines where this operation is done manually. A good cheap unit with easy to follow instructions. Highly portable too because of its size unlike those bowls which are 1.5 litres or more.
Zojirushi are a class act in electrical kitchen goods. An expensive gadget for many but it is able to produce cooked rice probably to the best level possible. This model has a 5.5 cup rice capacity which makes it ideal for a standard family of four people. Will do all types of rice depending on the setting made. There are numerous settings including one for a rice porridge which is not one of your standard food consumables. Some people also use it to cook other foodstuffs like oat porridge. Probably one for the Japanese sushi junky. Said to be great at producing brown rice to the best consistency.
Many folk find this brand highly reputable. This model has a large bowl capacity of 1.8 litres and will do large portions for a big family. Doesn’t have a rice steamer as an insert so cooking sticky rice which some other models manage is sadly not possible. Nonetheless it is a versatile and convenient model given its large size.
A lovely little rice cooker for small portions.