If you cook rice more than a couple times each month you want a countertop electric rice cooker. The electric rice cooker is a clever device that is as simple to use as a toaster but always produces magical results. It’s a tribute to human ingenuity how this simple kitchen small appliance does its magic and cooks rice, every kind of rice, perfectly every time. How is it that a rice cooker knows when to switch from the cooking” mode to the keep warm mode automatically?
If you take out the inner cooking pan of a Zojirushi rice cooker and look inside the rice cooker, you will see a small round disk, about 1-1/2″ in diameter, in the center of the heating plate. This is a thermal sensing device, known as a magnetic thermostat, and it sits on a small spring.
When rice and water are placed into the inner cooking pan and then put into the main body of the rice cooker, the weight of the rice and water in the inner cooking pan depresses the spring of the magnetic thermostat. This sensor triggers the heating plate to go to full power and bring the liquid in the cooking pan to a boil. At sea level water boils at 212 F (100 C) and no higher. Here’s the ingenious part. As long as there is water in the pan the rice cooker’s heating element will stay on. When the rice absorbs all the water, the temperature in the pan will begin to rise since there isn’t any water left in the pan. When the thermal sensor senses that the temperature has risen above 212 degrees F, the machine turns off the heating element and switches to a “keep warm” mode of about 150 degrees F.
Zojirushi Corporation has been making electric rice cookers and other small kitchen appliances for more than 80 years. Zojirushi offers several types of rice cookers to suit everyone’s needs.
In more advanced Zojirushi models a computer chip automatically makes adjustments in temperature and cooking time depending upon the program entered. These cookers are called micom rice cookers because they are fitted with a microcomputer chip. The top-of-the-line Zojirushi micom rice cooker is the Neuro Fuzzy, a registered trademark name coined by Zojirushi to indicate a rice cooker which utilizes “fuzzy logic” through a micro computer chip to cook rice.
This computer chip is the brains of the unit and instead of simply switching on and off reacting to temperature, the rice cooker now makes small adjustments in temperature and cooking time according to what the thermal sensor senses. So you can program your rice to be hard or soft, dry or watery, as in the case of making rice porridge, the Asian comfort food. You can also program for cooking white, brown or sweet (glutinous) rice.
The standard heating method known as Induction Heating (IH) occurs when a magnetic material is placed in a magnetic field. In Zojirushi rice cookers, coils within the bottom of the rice cooker create the magnetic field. When the special 2 ply inner cooking pan (nonstick coated aluminum with stainless steel outer lining) is placed into the rice cooker, a magnetic field is generated to create instant heat. Through this technology, the whole inner cooking pan itself becomes the heat source utilizing both high heat and finely tuned heat adjustments to control the cooking process. The results? Higher and quicker heat response that’s more evenly distributed for perfectly cooked rice every time!
Zojirushi rice cookers are designed to hold a basket above the rice which can used to cook vegetables in the steam coming off the rice. You can also use your Zojirushi in warm mode as a slow cooker for other dishes like beef stew or soup.