Rice is one of those food items, that has to be cooked properly. Perfectly cooked rice will not be either too soft or too firm. It will not be sticky too. However, cooking rice perfectly was considered as a difficult task, as it required water and rice in the right ratio. Apart from that, close monitoring was also necessary, so as to avoid overcooking and under cooking.
Even the cooking time and the quantity of water and rice vary with the type of rice. So, cooking rice perfectly was a difficult task, especially, for those who lived in places, where rice is not a staple food. This was the scenario till the invention of the rice cooker during the 1940s. This kitchen appliance has made the task of cooking rice easier.
What is a Rice Cooker
We all know that this kitchen appliance is used for cooking rice. The very first version was invented during the 1940s by a Japanese company known as Mitsubishi Electric. It is believed that various crude forms of this appliance were used by humans from the very early stages. According to archaeological studies, a type of platform cooker made of clay was used by the ancient people, during the eight century itself. The British Museum has a ceramic rice steamer dated 1250 BC.
However, it was during the early twentieth century that efforts to come up with an electric rice cooker started. This resulted in the invention of the first rice cooker during the 1940s. This one lacked the automatic turn off facility and this required constant monitoring of the cooking process. Due to this inconvenience, the same Japanese company introduced a new automated version.
This became an instant hit and rice cookers emerged as an indispensable part of each and every household across the country of Japan and later in other parts of the world.
Today, there are various types of rice cookers that come in different designs. The basic design of the electric cooker remains almost the same. It consists of an outer container with a heating element and inside that, there is a removable bowl that is usually coated with Teflon and have markings to denote the quantity of rice and water. In the traditional types, a mechanical thermostat turns off the cooker, as the water boils. The latest versions have microprocessors for this task and may also have electronic timers. Now, we have electric and gas rice cookers. Apart from that, special appliances used for cooking rice in microwave are also referred to as rice cookers.
How Does it Work
A standard electric rice cooker has an insulated outer bowl and an inner removable bowl with non stick coating. The outer container has heating device, thermal sensors and controls. In some types, the lids are removable, but, some others have lids attached to the outer bowl. The required amount of rice and water are added to the inner bowl, till the graduated marks in the bowl.
The required amount of water may vary with the type of rice. In short, you cannot use the same amount if water for white rice and brown rice. Almost all rice cookers can cook brown rice perfectly, provided, you know the right method of cooking this rice. Otherwise, go for the advanced appliances that have 'brown rice button'.
Once you add the required amount or rice and water, close the lid and turn on the appliance. The heating device in the outer bowl heats the water in the inner bowl to its boiling point. The rice absorbs the boiling water and the lid prevents the steam from escaping. We all know that the boiling point of water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit and above that temperature, it will get converted to steam.
As the water in the inner bowl reaches a steady boil, the temperature stabilizes at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. The water will not get hotter than this temperature. The rice gets cooked as it absorbs the water. When all the water is absorbed by the rice, then, the temperature starts to rise. This is sensed by the sensors in the cooker and the device is switched off automatically or the warming cycle of the cooker is activated.
In short, rice cooker is a beneficial kitchen appliance that can help you in cooking rice perfectly. If you plan to buy a one, take a look at the various models available in the market. Understand their features and working mechanism. Choose the one that is suitable for your requirements.