Rice Cooker

A rice cooker is an appliance that is used for steaming rice, which is the traditional method of cooking it. These cookers can also be used to prepare other kinds of rice-based dishes, such as pulavs and biryanis in Asian and Middle Eastern culture. The cooker works by producing a heat pressure built up by collection of steam inside the container which cooks the rice. This is the same principle with which rice is traditionally cooked; with the rice cooker, the only difference is that the production of steam is handled through electrical power rather than heating it on a gas stove.

Rice cookers are very ingeniously designed so that they can maintain the temperature needed to steam rice at the boiling point of water (100 degrees Celsius) and indicate when the rice has been cooked so that it does not get burnt. The method of cooking rice is by immersing it in water and allowing the water to boil. Rice along with water is taken in the rice cooker container. Just below the container, a heating element is present along with a thermostat that is made to detect any temperature above the boiling point of water.

When the rice cooker is switched on, the heating element begins its operation and the water starts boiling. The heating element may continue heating the container further, but it will have no effect as long as the water is present inside the cooker because water cannot rise in temperature below its boiling point. On the contrary, this temperature will go in converting rice into steam. Some of the steam will maintain the pressure inside the container, while the rest will be vented off through a valve provided in the lid of the rice cooker.

The steam inside the container will allow the rice to cook properly. As the rice cooks, it will absorb some of the water. The rest will convert into steam and will be mostly vented off. When the water from the container is gone, the temperature will begin rising above 100 degree Celsius. This is when the thermostat will detect the rise in temperature and shut off the heating element. At the same time, it will give a visible and audible alert to indicate that the rise has been cooked.

In some rice cookers, the thermostat will allow the heating element to continue working at a low temperature so that the rice may be kept hot till it is served. Most rice cookers have adjustments for cooking rice or for just keeping it warm.

Though they are called rice cookers and are predominantly used for this purpose, they can be used for some other purposes too. Some rice cookers can be used for making puddings since they can be cooked with the heat and pressure that steam provides inside the cooker. However, foods such as cakes and cookies cannot be prepared in rice cookers because they require very high temperatures. Food can be warmed inside a rice cooker provided they are placed within proper utensils or thermally conducting bags, or else they will spill and may spoil the surface of the cooker.

Rice cookers are available as standalone appliances that can be placed on countertops. These cookers are usually given plastic bodies, though the inner container that will hold the rice and water are made of thermally stable metals and alloys. Rice cookers also have external appeal; they are usually designed with smart colors so that they look attractive within the kitchen.

There are at least two accessories that are available with all rice cookers. One is a graduated measuring cup to take proper measures of rice and water. The second is a plastic spatula or spoon that is used for removing and serving the rice after it is cooked.

This Rice Cooker Review is Written/Updated on May 23rd, 2009 and filed under Kitchen Appliances. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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