Do I Need a Rice Cooker? – The Rice Cooker Or the Stove Top?


While cheaper models don’t have the computer processing capabilities of newer induction-heating (fuzzy-logic) rice cookers, many insist on stovetop or microwave cooking methods. Is it possible to achieve the perfectly cooked rice of a high-end rice cooker with a cheaper standard rice cooker? Well, if you are referring to my first two cheap cookers versus my current induction-heating cooker, the answer is absolutely not! A close friend of mine swore he could make as good a batch of rice using his stovetop. While this article is not intended to refute those who swear by their twenty dollar cooker or stove-top methods, it does focus on induction-heating cookers that yield perfect rice every time rice cooker.

For those of us who eat rice regularly, and prefer the convenience of hands free and consistently made rice every time, the latest cooking technology is a good consideration.

Older models heat rice and water with a single heating unit under the cooking pan to create an alternating electric current. This creates the direct heating by thermal conduction. With my old cooker, I recall not wanting to serve all the rice as the bottom quarter was always slightly burnt and I prefer my Hanmi white rice perfectly cooked without scorching of any kind. Another disadvantage was the rice had to be served pretty soon once cooked or it began to dry out and harden.

Again, for those of us eating rice regularly, being served rice that is slightly scorched or dry because cheaper models don’t have keep warm functions is unacceptable. For some folks, that rice bowl can be a very important component of the dinning experience. It is for me.

Around 1988, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., a rice cooker manufacturer introduced an induction-heating (IH) rice cooker. It was unclear whether the cooking miracle would be popularized as it might be an energy monster and purchase prices were high. The cooking settings, consistent results, and convenience it provided made it a huge success.

Those days of wondering how good or bad your next batch might be are over, as cookers have taken precision to a new level. Recent (IH) cookers feature multi-menu and texture selections for white rice, sushi rice, brown rice, porridge, and Gaba Brown. A recent model boasts a new pre-soak feature and 30 hour keep-warm function. Once cooked, other saving features include automatic keep warm, extra large LCD display, clock and timer function, and detachable inner lid. The rice cooker goes into a keep warm mode holding your rice at the perfect temperature without overcooking. Some models also have an extended keep warm and re-heating cycle feature. These cookers use a microcomputer (fuzzy-logic), which adjusts temperatures and cooking time for specific rice types.

The secret to induction heating technology is consistent temperature control and even heat distribution. Traditional cookers heat the inner pot whereas induction heating uses electromagnetic energy to heat the inner pot. It’s the inner pot that becomes the entire heating element, resulting in even heating. This even distribution of heat results in faster and precise cooking. The pricier non-induction heating cookers (fuzzy logic) have heating elements on the sides and bottom for heat distribution.

The Induction Heating System Rice Cooker & Warmer uses high-tech Induction Heating (IH) method to heat the inner cooking pan. Because of this new heating method, rice cooks exceptionally well. They also feature easy-to-clean clear-coated stainless steel exteriors, healthy cooking options such as brown rice, GABA BROWN and germinated brown rice settings, and an interchangeable melody and beep signal. Other features include automatic keep warm, extra large LCD display for Clock and Timer functions and detachable inner lid. Such models are available in 5 cup, 5.5 cup and 10 cup sizes.

The heating method known as Induction Heating (IH) occurs when a magnetic material is placed in a magnetic field. Coils within the bottom of the rice cooker create the magnetic field. When the aluminum nonstick inner cooking pan with stainless steel outer lining is placed into the rice cooker and the unit is activated, a magnetic field is generated to create instant heat. Through this technology, the inner cooking pan itself becomes the heat source utilizing both high heat and fine heat adjustments to control the cooking process. The heating method creates evenly distributed heat for perfect, sweet, fluffy rice every time. Induction heating improves rice cookers through accurate temperature-sensing methods and distribution of heat to include entire cooking pan to produce more evenly cooked rice.

In the event that you make a measuring error, an (IH) rice cooker will make adjustments to cooking time and temperature. This is another element of precision that yields that consistently perfect batch of fluffy rice.

Other features of most (IH) rice cookers include:

· Heating entire inner pan for even cooking
· Menu settings for white, sushi, brown, semi-brown, mixed sweet, porridge, rinse-free, GABA Brown and quick cooking rice.
· Induction heating technology heats the entire inner cooking pan for even cooking.
· Extra large colored LCD display with Clock and Timer function and melody signal.
· Detachable inner lid

While some prefer to use their trusty stove top or microwave, if any of the mentioned features and benefits of induction-heating technology appeal to you, you now can have the perfectly cooked fluffy rice produced by the new age rice cookers.

Since that first batch I produced with my own Zojirushi rice cooker, I still wonder over and appreciate every single bowl of rice without missing the hit and miss or time consuming methods of the past.

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