Rice cookers have been around since 1959 and have been a staple in households from Japan to the US for the past 50 years. I can remember as far back as being a kid and waiting for our ancient (but reliable) cooker to go off to my grandma gifting me one (“the one thing you’ll need!”) when I left for college. From way back then to now, rice cookers have evolved into sleek and chic modern kitchen appliances. Yes, it sounds weird that I just used those adjectives to describe a rice cooker but after you see them, you’ll know what I mean.
Ten years ago, my mother’s rice cooker was a chunky pot with a tan enamel finish that took up half the kitchen counter. She mainly used it to cook rice and, on occasion, dumplings or steamed egg soup. Compared to the high-tech stainless steel models of today, it looks- and acts- like a Stone Age cooker.
New high-tech cookers aren’t only more compact and storage efficient, they are also decked out in cooking technology that you didn’t even know existed. It might sound a little ridiculous but rice cookers today are equipped with something called “micro-computerized Fuzzy logic technology”. Sounds fancy, huh? What it does is allows the rice cooker to think for itself (as in artificial intelligence) and make adjustments to temperature and heating time based on an internal thermal sensor to cook rice to perfect fluffy texture. This is the end of overly dry and brittle rice or runny undercooked rice. Some even feature cutting edge heating tech that utilizes induction heating principles to heat the inner cooking pan, rather than the traditional heating from the bottom of the cooker. This induction heating system allows the cooker to make finer temperature adjustments to perfect the final product. Digital cookers, which are the norm today, even have settings for brown rice to increase nutritional values, sushi and porridge in addition to the standard white setting.
But the holy grail of all rice cookers includes a pressurized system that elevates cooking temperatures to higher levels. This alters the structure of starch within each grain of rice, making it softer, fluffier, and easier to digest. This pressurized system has been found to keep rice softer for longer periods of time, so you won’t end up with the most dreaded day two hard rice. Behold:
But the question is: do you really need to spend that much on a rice cooker? Whenever I go back home, my mom is still using the same trusty cooker that she’s used since I was old enough to peek over the counter. Some people still stick with the old-fashioned way and cook it over the stove with no serious complaints. But if rice is a staple to your diet like it is mine, then the investment you make in a higher end cooker is going to pay off. Going through user testimonies, it seems like the newest tech puts its money where your mouth is. I, for one, have never particularly thought of rice as aromatic or delicious, but cooking it properly and precisely brings out flavors and textures that’s near impossible to get using a basic conventional cooker. You’re not only getting the full flavor of different types of rice, which require different settings, but you’re also maximizing nutritional value when it’s cooked right.
So the next time you cook rice using a standard conventional cooker, just think to yourself, is your rice reaching its fullest potential? If not, start making some changes. For more information about high-tech rice cookers, check out Forbes’ review.