Many people love rice and like to have cooked rice around for different dishes. It is sometimes difficult to make fluffy rice in a regular saucepan, so some people opt for a rice cooker. The electric appliance known as a rice cooker has been available in Asia for 35 to 40 years, but it is just now gaining popularity in the United States.
Rice is a great staple food, but sometimes turns out sticky, soggy or in insufficient quantities for the meal. A rice cooker solves these problems. A rice cooker looks a lot like a slow cooker. Models come in 5 or 10 cup capacities, although for the average U.S. household, a 5-cup model is probably sufficient. The top is heavy and hinged, and locks in place to seal the cooker.
Rice cooks via steam and constant heat, and this is why the rice cooker is so good at what it does. It it sealed so steam cannot escape, and the thermostat maintains an even temperature. A good rice cooker will have a lid styled so that condensation cannot leak down onto the rice and make it soggy. Most models also feature a "warm" function that will keep the rice cooker at a constant temperature after the rice is cooked, in order to keep the rice warm and tasty.
Most models also have a feature that switches the rice cooker to the "warm" setting automatically after the rice is cooked. It does this by sensing the rise in temperature inside the cooker after the water has been absorbed. After the "warm" function is activated, it will keep the rice at temperature for up to 12 hours. Most models can be operated by placing rice and water inside the cooker, locking down the lid and pressing a button. The cooker does the rest.
Some rice cooker models enable the cook to make stews, soups and desserts in the appliance, and some models even feature a little steaming basket for vegetables. One nice feature in a rice cooker is a non-stick surface. This makes clean-up much easier on the cook. A rice cooker usually starts at about 60 US dollars (USD), and can run up to 200 USD for a top-end model. They can be found online and in most stores that sell kitchen appliances.