Traditionally, people cook rice by boiling it in water on the stove or over a fire. Rice cookers are electrical appliances that are meant to take the guesswork out of cooking rice and therefore make the cooking process easier. Compared to the traditional cooking method, rice cookers offer both advantages and disadvantages. Any consumer considering purchasing one of these appliances should compare the pros and cons before deciding to buy one.
When you cook rice on the stove, there really is no good way to keep it warm for serving. The only option is to add a touch of water and reheat the rice, which works but which can result in overdone rice. Most rice cookers have a warming feature that keeps the rice heated without adding more water. More advanced models can keep the rice warm for hours at a time, which greatly improves flexibility in terms of how you prepare your rice meal.
Even though rice cookers keep the rice warm, they sometimes dry out the rice, especially if the warm feature is kept on for a long period. This makes the rice less appealing and can change the consistency of a rice dish. This is less of an issue for some dishes, such as soup, because such dishes will rehydrate the rice.
Most rice cookers have sensors that detect the weight and moisture content of the rice. These sensors are connected to circuits within the rice cookers and turn the cookers off or to the warm setting when the rice is finished. This means you can turn the cooker on and practically forget about it.
Rice cookers, although they are cooking appliances, also are sophisticated pieces of technology that can have many different features. Unlike a simple cooking pot, a rice cooker can have a manual that is difficult understand and get all the functions to work as desired. These types of rice cookers can require a good deal of time to learn to use properly.
Except for the simplest and cheapest models, rice cookers come with trays or bowls designed for steaming. Thus, you may not have to buy separate cookware to prepare things like steamed vegetables.
Rice cookers are designed to plug into electrical sockets in the kitchen. Therefore, they take up counter space. Depending on your viewpoint, this can be either an advantage or a disadvantage. The rice cooker leaves a stove burner open for other pots and pans, but you won't have as much room to prepare your food.