In short, boiling water temperature plateaus due to the latent heat of vaporization. When the water is gone the temperature of the pot starts to rise. The rice cooker uses this principle to control the switch. The switch is held by magnet. When the pot finishes boiling the heat rises and exceeds the curie point of the magnet, which means the magnet ceases to be magnetic, and the (no longer) magnetic switch is released turning the rice cooker off.
Here’s a great video explaining how it works.
Water-to-rice ratios are important. America's Test Kitchen has a good video on the topic, especially if you're using a pot and not a rice cooker:
The rice actually only 'needs' a 1:1 ratio, but you need to put in extra to deal with evaporation; brown rice needs more-extra because it takes longer to cook (the bran slows absorption), and the longer cooking time leads to more evaporation.
TL;DR: ignore what's on the bag/box, and for every cup of rice add one cup of water (1:1, 2:2, 3:3), and then a fixed amount of extra overhead for evaporation.
This is assuming a pot with straight sides, at least above the lowest water level during cooking.
This would be accurate at room temperature, but under stovetop conditions wouldn't evaporation rate be determined mostly by the amount of heat energy added to the water?
In my experience, the surface area where evaporation occurs has the most impact. If I know (and obviously I do every time, just measure it) the evaporation area size, that's what I use to dial in how much pre-boil wort I need the first few times I use a set of equipment.
But heat energy is the second most important factor. Sea level, salt/mineral levels, and other factors are - in my experience - not worth considering. But I've not tried to brew beer on the top of a mountain.
I've brewed over 300 batches of beer in vessels of various dimensions (including surface area and evaporation area), and with various amounts of heat energy, applied in various places in the vessel. Ranging from 2kW to 18kW, sometimes heat applied under the pot, sometimes distributed throughout for example 3 heating elements at various heights. 2kW for all from 15L to 60L vessels, 6-18kW from 25L to 120L, and 18kW (IIRC) for 500-800L.
When brewing beer, the boil usually lasts for 60-90 minutes, and the boil off rate is extremely important for hitting your target gravity and volume, and getting a consistent result if you're brewing the same recipe again.
What you do as a brewer is you test the equipment on the first 2-3 batches and then after that you can hit your target boil-off with 99% accuracy every time, or 100% in an enterprise-grade professional setup.
I've never been more than 5-10% off my estimated boil-off rate for the first batch, and I only account for surface area in that estimate. Even with 6kW for 25L.
The evaporation rate from the pot as a whole at any given time will then be that rate per unit area, which depends on that host of factors, times the surface area.
So once you know how deep a layer of extra water you need to add to cover evaporation in one pot, that will be the same depth of water you need to add to a different size pot if you are cooking in that different sized pot at the same temperature, pressure, etc. as the first pot.
Think of it this way: Imagine you have a rectangular pot, with a removable divider in the middle that effectively turns it into two smaller pots side by side.
If you put the divider in and cook some rice in the left side, you need a certain depth of extra water. If instead you cooked that rice in the right side, you'd need the same depth of water there.
Now imagine cooking in both sides simultaneously. You'd still need the same depth in each side as when you were cooking in that side solo.
OK, now imagine cooking in both sides, but without the divider installed. That's not really any different than with the divider installed. Each side is still going to need the same depth of water as before.
(Well, there will be some difference. Not all heat gets into what you are cooking through the bottom of the pan. The sides get hot too, and some heat comes in that way. Remember that the evaporation rate at any given point on the surface depends on conditions at that point. A spot in the center will take longer to reach a given temperature than a spot near a side, and so we'll have a non-uniform evaporation rate across the surface. I don't think this will make much difference as far as rice cooking goes, but figuring out for sure would require knowing a lot more about how heat moves within a batch of cooking rice than I do).
If you use different pots, with lids of perhaps different levels of sealing, then your results will be all over the place. If you always use the same 2-3 qt/L pot, you'll always get the same evaporation.
I also let it steam in its own heat for the last 10min or so of cooking since the temp won’t rise it won’t overcook the rice but it will prevent any rice from being undercooked or from the rice at the bottom form burning.
If I don’t have the tome to rinse I usually increase the ratio slightly and cook it for 5min longer and let it sit covered for 5 additional minutes but the result will also be a much more stickier and starchy rice.
People also for some reason stir rice which you should never do unless you are making glue or rice pudding (which tbh is the same recipe minus the sugar and flavorings).
ATK mentions various types of rice that they experimented with; there doesn't seem to be anything special about jasmine:
> We gathered 17 different varieties of rice, including white and brown short-grain, medium-grain, long-grain, basmati, and jasmine [!!!!] rice plus two varieties of red and black rice. After rinsing the rice to remove excess surface starch, we placed 1 cup of each type with 1 cup of water in a vacuum bag and sealed them to ensure that no water could evaporate during cooking. […]
> To the surprise of our tasting panel, every variety of rice was properly cooked using the 1:1 ratio of rice to water. All of the rice types were tender throughout with no chalky or mushy grains. In addition, the water had been completely absorbed in each sample.
You can easily re-create their experiment: buy a bunch of rice, put them in sealed bags with water, completely seal the bags, and cook them sous vide. Cook one bag of jasmine at 1:1, one at 1.5:1, 1.75:1, etc.
The statements are falsifiable / confirmable.
Again: long/medium grain rice has 1.5:1 recommended, and brown rice 2:1, because of longer cooking times—which allows for more evaporation to occur. The rice itself only needs 1:1, anything else is about factoring evaporation which is fixed regards of quantity being cooked.
So when measuring out: do 1:1 for the cups of rice, and then add the extra needed for your particular pot-stove combination.
And I guess it's not really the curie point, just the point where the force becomes weaker than the spring
Magnets stick well to ferromagnetic materials. If you heat a ferromagnetic object, e.g. a piece of steel, above Tc, it stops being a ferromagnet and magnets will stick to it much less firmly. And, when you cool it, it will once again be ferromagnetic.
Thing heats and deforms (change properties), when it reaches temperature n, thing deforms just a bit too much, cuts electrical contact.
(I have one of those toasters, and they’re very pretty and charming to see work.)
This is true for a lot of appliances: water boiler, coffee percolator, drip coffee maker, etc. They have to be reliable enough that you can have a 1000W+ heater right next ABS plastic and not have problems with millions of units.
I started with a German brand a few years ago but finally mustered up the courage to buy a good Japanese one (Zojirushi seems to be the market leader these days). I imagine that it tastes a bit better now but honestly even most of the cheap rice cookers produce quite good results. Recently Xiaomi introduced a series of rice cookers which have really nice induction heating and a really heavy, solid cooking pan, unfortunately they have littered them with "smart" functionality, so it's nothing that I want in my kitchen.
They also make the best insulated bottles. It's completely besides the point but I felt compelled to talk about it, a good bottle is a game changer when you're drinking tea or coffee at your desk all day long.
I will admit, despite how trivial it may sound, that it is nice not having to worry about turning off the heat. It means you can walk away and get into some other task more deeply.
However, I don't think I'll ever buy another rice cooker, as a pressure cooker can do the same thing but is a more general tool.
However, rice does poorly with my model. The grains are too small and can become lodged in the safety features.
BUT, I’ve gotten a lot of ridicule and pushback from friends and family, as if it’s somehow “cheating“ not to cook your rice in a pot/pan..
These people are all northern europeans... what do they know about rice???
I try to point out how common these appliances are in (at least some) actual rice eating cultures, but they’re usually pretty skeptical about the whole idea.
I’m just happy to get great rice every time!
I don’t know if the former is true but the latter seemed to be on the ones I saw.
If the salesperson wasn't lying, he was probably referring to other cultivars of rice, not just brown rice. For example, long grain rice obviously requires different settings than short grain rice. Southeast and South Asia have much more diversity of rice than Northeast Asia.
It is known that brown rice requires a different ratio of water, but this is something that can be replicated with any method. Does the special brown rice setting change the heat output of the rice cooker?
: Fancy rice cookers use non-constant power, or so I've heard. Not sure how much it influences the taste, though.
Our cuckoo is a preassure cooker, and the rice it makes is the best I’ve had.
We currently live in Tokyo, and the Panasonic we got here is not as good as the cuckoo. Maybe because the power here is weaker?
Higher pressure = higher boiling point = higher cooking temperature = different taste.
Korean rice cookers modeled after the Gamasot are basically autoclaves. The good ones maintain a pressure of about 2 atm and a cooking temperature of 120C. Unpressurized rice cookers are more common in Japan, and Japanese people are more used to the texture of rice cooked at 100C. Your sushi probably won't taste right if you cook the rice at 120C.
Rice cooked without pressure comes out light and fluffy. This is more appropriate for sushi where you don't want the flavor of rice to overwhelm or collide with the subtle flavor of the other ingredients.
I use Instant Pot. It's not as good as a rice cooker, but most of the time the difference isn't noticeable, and the benefit is that you can cook a LOT more things in it than just rice. Great if you have limited counter space in your kitchen.
I miss my old Panasonic copper rice cooker that I had in Japan. :( Gave it away.
But it has not caught on even now. I have seen electric rice cookers in minuscule number of households. Based on interactions, it’s more to do with people not liking the taste of the cooked rice. I always found this funny as older generation used to complain about the same about pressure cooked and stove top cooked rice instead of the wood fired stove cooked rice but everyone have accepted it now.
There's a marketing story about a western company that tried to introduce their product to the Japanese market with the slogan: "as easy as cooking rice" - which, according to the story managed to insult every Japanese woman as cooking rice was - according to the story - considered more or less an art form in Japan at the time.
Anyone has details about this story?
We've been cooking rice for millennia in this way, a rice cooker is just plastic waste in the end.
Take a look at the first line of the article:
Cooking rice on a stovetop can be fraught. Add too much water and you end up with porridge.
These devices can seem all-knowing. So long as you add water and rice in the right proportions, it’s nearly impossible to mess up
The timing is never important on anything as long as you always get it right.
However, a rice cooker frees you from having to watch over it while it cooks. It'll stop cooking automatically once it's done. Not so for the pot, which you have to keep an eye on or time, and turn off when it's done.
This difference makes a rice cooker much more convenient for those of us who want to do other things while the rice cooks, and not have to worry about it.
Also, a rice cooker will keep your cooked rice warm for a long time after it's done, but a pot won't.
Also I use a glass pot which will stay quite warm for at least an hour after turning it off.
I used to have a rice cooker. But I gave it away to free up counter space. My stove has 4 elements, but counter space is precious.
The original article describes rice cookers were invented because cooking rice over a wood fire is very difficult. I’ve no argument with that. But cooking rice with a generic pot on a modern stove is trivial, and most people buy rice cookers because they’ve been taught to.
I always disable the Keep Warm setting though, not sure if that makes a difference.
This is true of a lot of foods. Not enough people let meat rest for long enough after removing it from the heat.
I decided one day to experiment until I got the water-to-rice-to-time ratio correct, and I just couldn't find the right combination. It always came out overcooked. I'd love to hear what the secret is.
It has a single lever/switch - when pushed it cooks.
It is over a decade old and works perfectly.
Do yourself a favor - don't buy smart appliances.
Do you have any tips for microwaving rice?
It's like Americans and not owning a kettle. Boggles the mind, but I suppose they don't drink as much tea as I do ...
On the topic of _which_ rice cooker to buy, the answer is simple: the rice cooker was perfected years ago, with its double pot single button (on-off switch) operation. Anything else is a gimmick and not worth paying extra for.
I tried to cook rice in a hob and the surface was still raw but the bottom inch had burnt black to practically charcoal.
I have never since tried to cook rice in a pan.
And yet I cook risotto in a pan /shrug
I love not having to pay any attention to it and focus on other things instead of having to time it or keep an eye on it. When I eventually get around to checking on the rice, it's perfectly done. It's almost as good as having a personal cook make the rice for me.
I'll never go back to a pot again, if I can help it.
When I moved out of home, I didn't buy a rice cooker initially, because you don't strictly need one to make rice. I was amazed at how convenient making decent quality rice on the stove was! It cooks faster, and there's less cleaning up afterwards.
Many years have past and I still don't own a rice cooker. I'm not sure I'll ever own one gain.
About six months ago I bought a tiny $20 model Dash.
I've often heard people say that cheap rice cookers are just as good as expensive ones, and since I'm poor, live alone, and this was my first rice cooker, I thought it would be enough.
It turns out this rice cooker had a number of problems.
First, the screw that held in the pot lid on this rice cooker wasn't made of stainless steel, so it quickly rusted.
I could have gone to the trouble of going to the hardware store and picking out a perfectly matching stainless steel screw (if they had one), but I never bothered, so to this day I still lift the pot lid with a paperclip that I insert in to the hole where the pot lid used to be each time I want to lift out the lid. It's a little annoying, but I can live with it. I'm sure for some people not dealing with this annoyance would be worth paying more for a decently made rice cooker.
The second issue is that this ultra cheap rice cooker only makes enough rice for me to eat at a single sitting. As a single person that only very rarely has people over, this is enough.. or so I thought until I found that I'd rather cook extra rice ahead of time that I could eat throughout the week (or at least one day in advance), so I don't have to even bother with the rice cooker ever day. As simple as the rice cooker is, it's still a bit of a hassle to rinse the rice out, and fill the cooker with rice and water. I'd rather just microwave leftover rice, which is a bit simpler.
Third, the markings for the water level and the instructions for this model are just plain wrong and take experimenting to get the optimal levels. After some months of experimentation, I managed to perfect my technique, but it would have still been a lot less hassle to just have the thing make perfect rice from the beginning rather than having to fiddle with it so much.
So, because of these issues, in retrospect I wish I'd gone for a larger, inevitably more expensive rice cooker... and hopefully it would have been less annoying and fiddly from the start.
 - https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CHZP91L/
You don't need a rice cooker that has two dozen different functions and some 'Neuro Fuzzy Logic' crap. But you do want a well-built rice cooker that wont break down and rust on you.
Your best bet for a decent cheap rice cooker is your local asian market. The bigger ones will likely have quite a selection, but even your dinky little chinatown grocery store will probably have something quite usable.
Pots are for cooking. Machines are for other stuff.
I think you have to follow the no unitasker rule in moderation. If you eat salad every day for example, I don't think it's a bad idea to have a salad spinner, when you can "easily" rinse and drain by hand.
[Hello, I'm Peter Barakan.]
Being a minute late is too much sometimes. I used to have to "learn" how to cook a new bag because the grains are different sizes, sometimes it's not really brown or white but white-brown or brown-white. The best Japanese rice is in my opinion, from California. I like Koda Farms, their brown rice is just about as close as you can get to the flavor of white rice while having a decent amount of nutrition. Fun fact, the "flower name" for America is 米国. Means rice country. Nowadays people just say Amerika in Katakana which technically has a kanji representation as 亜米利加 but even that has the word rice in it. China calls us 美利坚合众国, which means beautiful country.
It's not difficult to eyeball what it takes to make good rice. Quick and dirty rule is having just enough water to cover the rice. I just stick my pinky in and measure up to the second phalange. You basically just heat until it boils, quickly escape the air, release to mid heat and then keep an eye on it for about 10-15 minutes without opening the lid. If your technique is good, you can kind of estimate how long it takes on a linear scale for cups to cooking time. A clear lid helps, it'll just look right. Key thing to do is take your rice spatula and just carve out the edges when it's done so you're getting a more consistent mix.
Later in life, I got the 1.8L Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker by Zojirushi. I fell in love with the name, which is apparently from artificial intelligence. Not sure how they come up with that.
Here's the thing: sure, it's easy to make one kind of rice and costs almost nothing to do. With a dedicated rice cooker though, I can make any kind of rice, in any amount, without having to think about it. The inside of the pot has markers for your rice quantity and water volume for each type. I have the larger cooker, so it kind of takes longer (it consistently takes one hour to cook about 3-4 cups, which is simple to plan around). There's a quick cook setting which makes no discernible difference in consistency. Every time I turn it on, it sings a cute little song and then sings another one when it's done. I find it utterly delightful.
Here's why you get a rice cooker. Sure, you can make rice in like 15 minutes on the stove. But then what do you do if you have leftovers? Put them in the fridge where it gets stale? With a rice cooker, I make 5-6 cups at the beginning of the week, and I can leave it there for at least 72 hours and it stays incredibly fresh. I wouldn't recommend it, but I've left it in there for 4 days. Constant heat kills any bacteria or mold that might take.
I don't have to worry about my rice technique. I don't have to worry about storing and heating leftovers. I can make as much rice as I want and save myself time and effort throughout the week. If I wanted to be even more efficient, I could let the rice soak overnight, and set a timer for it to start cooking right before I wake up. It's one less thing to worry about, and I can time all of my meals around it so that everything's ready at the same time.
You can also make other things besides rice such as pancakes or pasta in it. Pasta's a bit more difficult, but I've made perfect pancakes in this thing.
Highly recommend Zojirushi for their excellent insulation products.
you can also make zhou/congee with a rice cooker and steam foods. I often use mine to reheat leftovers like chicken legs while cooking rice
I think in this case 米 was used for ateji (as it also has a reading of "me") and not for the semantic meaning.
Mod, fix this attack on me.
Rice can vary, high starch to low starch, short-grain to long-grain, sticky, non-sticky, raw to parboiled. They're used as a base for other dishes including sushi, fried rice, pudding, biryani and porridge. All these require different amounts of consistency.
While cooking at home, if you just mess it up a little bit, the dish will still serve its purpose. But that's not true if you're cooking an Asian dish with perfectly good rice used just as a base.
I didn't downvote your comment but your dismissive snark seems out of place since the _history_ of "tricky/difficult/labored" was explained in the article:
>It was painfully tricky. Cooking rice this way, says columnist and food writer Makiko Itoh, takes heat modulation: high heat until the water and rice boils, then low heat, then high heat again. “And that, with a wood-burning stove, is very difficult.” Each day, Japanese women rose at dawn and labored for several sweaty hours to make rice. (A contemporary restaurant in Nara, Japan, offers a kamado-cooking experience that starts with 15 minutes of pumping a bellows to fan the flames.)
In some rice eating countries, automatic rice cookers never really took off because of the 'quality' of the product is obviously East Asia centric, which is considered 'mushy' rice in West Asia.
With some rice cooking approaches, the amount of water makes no difference as whatever is left is drained after a fixed period of time, and then it's simmer time.
"Burning" of the bottom is also locale dependent. In Persian Cuisine for example, the art of making 'Tah-Deeg' (lit. bottom of the pot) is one of the stepping stones of becoming a serious cook, and generally this is the bit of the rice that family fights over at the table.
Bottom line, OP is correct, imho.
The more basic models don't have features like that, however.
Your quote shows that the article is wrong.
I did NOTHING at all wrong. Instead I just explained how darned easy it is to cook rice. For anyone taken in by the article that there is a challenge to cooking rice, I did a good service.
What wrote is just what I got off the back of a plastic bag of rice decades ago. It was a good recipe then. It's a good recipe now. There is NOTHING wrong with what I wrote.
I will delete my post and let others struggle with the severe "challenge" of cooking rice.
The article was absurd -- cooking rice is EASY.
Enjoy your struggle of hours cooking rice.
The simple lesson here is: what is easy for you is not necessarily easy for everyone else, and you should not get pissy if you state your opinion so miserably and everybody fights back.
Also, yes it's fairly easy to cook rice in a pan. I cook rice probably 4 days a week, and I now use a rice cooker. My rice cooker:
- Can be set up ahead of time
- Has different cooking profiles for different varieties of rice
- Can keep the rice warm, safely, for many hours after it's cooked
- Cooks the rice very well. It even has a special mode for cooking the rice longer in a specific way, which results in extremely nice-tasting rice
It means that I have rice ready and waiting when I finish cooking the rest of the meal, which no longer has to be timed alongside the rice, which means I can focus on cooking the interesting food and not the bloody rice.
Your experience is different from many others.
Fix your attitude.
I originally went for it because there honestly aren't that many options in the UK, and this was the only Induction Heating model on the market here when I bought it, as most of the Japanese brands aren't CE marked I think?
I imagine the technology exists in other rice cookers under different names, as I would think it's pretty rare for there to be anything truly unique in this market.
I do highly rate that model though. I've had it about 1.5 years and use it at least 4 times a week. There is a notable difference in taste between its "Yumami" and "Short-grain" settings. Not that the standard mode tastes bad; it's just that the Yumami setting does have something a bit different about it that I really like.
Check out some of their cheaper models as well, they're also quite well-reviewed and they import Zojirushi stuff too.
I think I'm going to start with a $20 one and see.
YumAsia ship to most of Europe and have some cheaper models, if that's useful to you.
>For centuries, most Japanese cooks made rice with a kamado, a box-shaped range topped with a heavy iron pot. It was painfully tricky. Cooking rice this way, says columnist and food writer Makiko Itoh, takes heat modulation: high heat until the water and rice boils, then low heat, then high heat again. “And that, with a wood-burning stove, is very difficult.” Each day, Japanese women rose at dawn and labored for several sweaty hours to make rice.
The engineer who made the first, widely successful design relied on his wife’s expertise in this traditional cooking method to perfect it.
"Until now, this was the only way to get cooked rice from rice..."
Okay, but in that case the best thing to invent would be a non-horrible stove. I've made rice, and even as an incompetent cook, it really is a non-issue.
The standard to be measured against was also, again, Kamado rice, which most rice cookers today would struggle to meet and I guarantee few bachelors are measuring up to with their sauce pans.
Yep, needs more automation and less human thought. We need single-serving-sized pouches of rice, and single-serving-sized bottles of water. Feeding four people? Use four packets and four bottles. The cooking device can monitor its own temperature and sing a ditty when it’s done.
...But for the next step I'm using my instapot while I do something else.
- I turn the heat off (but do not open the lid) at 15 minutes
- If I'm planning on making extra, sometimes I like to add some oil (usually coconut, sometimes olive or butter), which I find helps it keep better. Oil and rice added before water, to spread it evenly.