How simple a gadget is the rice cooker?  Very simple and more versatile than a toaster!  Most western households have a toaster; most Asian households have a rice cooker.

As the Japanese invented the idea, the best rice cookers are probably still made in Japan or at least their design is Japanese and they may be made on license around the world.

The first commercially produced rice cooker was made by Sony and was in fact a bit of a disaster, fairly primitive.  The rice came out either over cooked or under cooked, depending on the weight of the water added.

Apparently it was Toshiba who came up with the first commercially viable rice cooker in 1955. This design was using a method named “double-pot indirect cooking”; a cup of water poured into the outer pot, the machine turning off automatically when the all the water evaporated and really not much different to the principle of rice cookers today. Whoops some say it was Mitsubishi, but we may never know, one of the two anyway.

As companies competed the manufacturers were coming up with more ways of making the rice cooker more useful.  In the 1960’s advances in technology meant that rice cookers could keep the rice warm after it was finished the cooking process, some even had timers.

Then came induction heating (IH) as a standard for cooking rice. It was using an electric current passed through coils around the pot producing a magnetic field, heating up the metal, phew.  Metal heats up quickly with an electric current running through and this meant the pot heated up quickly and the rice was cooked evenly.

Now fuzzy logic is everywhere says, your new washing machine may be a bit fuzzy, it can detect how much dirt is in the water, fab for getting your clothes nice and clean or a quick wash if they are not so dirty.  The same principle is applied to the rice cooker, a computerized rice cooker in other words.

As brown rice is now considered a far healthier option, some rice cookers will give you a button for brown rice!  Yes it does take longer to cook so the method is slightly different. Perhaps you don’t want plain old rice, hit the rice porridge and there you have your rice porridge for breakfast, perhaps a timer would suit you so it can be ready for your wake up call.

They come in all shapes and sizes now, from dinky little basic on/keep warm rice cookers to 2 in 1 rice cookers with steamers and other abilities.

There are rice cookers which double as crock pots or pressure cookers and whichever type of cooker you go for; rice should now be foolproof, no more undercooked rice and no more mushy wet stuff.

Different types of pot

  • Chemically treated non stick
  • Aluminum
  • Steel
  • Clay

A non-stick pot is great so long as you take care not to scratch it, some people cannot resist scouring the pot, definitely not a good idea for a non-stick pan.  These non-stick pans are easy to clean, sturdy, not breakable so good if you are a bit clumsy in the kitchen.

Aluminum is also easy to clean, even if you manage to burn your rice, yes it is possible a short soak will lift the burnt bits and it will be as good as new.  You can treat it quite roughly as well.  However, some people will be concerned about the amount of aluminum that gets into the cooked rice so is not so popular.

Stainless steel is a great alternative to chemically treated non-stick and aluminum and even clay. Stainless steel is relatively cheap as well.

The clay pot is the most natural type of pot but oh so breakable if you drop it you will be out of action until you get a replacement.

In Asia you will see people throwing the rice into their rice cooker, throwing in some water, switching it on!  That’s it, no seasoning, no nothing, out comes perfect rice.

Here it all is, different types of rice cooker all basically working on the same principle of bringing you perfect rice every time.