Rice cookers and food steamers are popular because they offer a healthy and convenient way to cook. Steam-cooking preserves the original nutrients and retains colors, fibers, and other natural elements of foods. Rice cookers and food steamers are also energy-saving since they cook fast and well with the help of multiple heat-supply knobs.
With so many benefits, there are many varieties, designs, and features of these mainstream cooking appliances available in the market. From this multitude of choices, which one is right for you? Find out in this informative article that covers the latest types and features, and why would they be your ideal choice of a rice cooker and food steamer.
For your convenience and to save time, we have divided this article into two categories - rice cookers and food steamers.
Check out any restaurant menu or home-cooked recipes, and you would come across infinite rice varieties. This is because rice blends with all types of culinary cultures, it makes a healthy diet, and it is a staple of various regional diets.
What Features Should a Good Rice Cooker Have?
There would be very many rice cookers in the market. Don't get confused, read below to find out the types of rice cookers and their features, and make an informed decision.
It's the age of digital transformation. So, transform your rice-cooking with this type. Its main features are:
- Multiple heat settings
- Steams as well as boils rice
- Soaking and cooking time options
- Keep warm function
- White or brown rice options
- Auto shutdown
- Delay timer
- Gas or electric cooking option
Many upscale smart rice cookers also offer multiple menus - soups, cakes, porridge… you can use it for many types of cooking.
You will want a digital rice cooker if you are super-busy, yet you want precision rice-cooking. For example, you can program this cooker while going to work, so when you return home, fresh, warm, and just-rightly cooked rice would be ready. Digital cookers are also good for people who want a single appliance for multiple uses. They come at a good price, though.
Removable inner compartment
There are two main problems with conventional rice cookers. They are single-piece cookers, so their cleaning is a major bother every time you cook in them.
Additionally, you have to take great care not to wet or damage its control panel, or else it will invite major electronic repair or replacement. Worse, you may have to buy a new one if the damage is major. A rice cooker with a removable inner bowl solves these problems.
The bonus benefit is, the cooking bowl will also double up as a serving bowl. So you don't have to wash two bowls. Choose this one if you want great rice at lesser pain, and of course, lesser risk of damaging it.
You don't want to compromise on your love for rice while traveling?
You want a safe, hygienic, and easy-to-digest dish while on explorations and expeditions?
You want a no-fuss, single-ingredient recipe cooked within minutes while on road trips?
You want fresh and warm food even hours after cooking while on a picnic?
For these and many more options, a portable rick cooker is you best solution. You can get many options of functions, cooking capacity, designs, and portability, so carrying these light-weight cookers will not be a problem. Just cook your type of rice and eat, wherever you are. Rice cookers are truly anytime-anywhere solutions.
This one is, in fact, a multi-tasking cooker. Although meant for rice-cooking, you could also utilize it for other microwave recipes. Thus, this affordable rice cooker is also cost-effective.
However, do look for these two features in the microwave-friendly rice cooker check out:
It must have the microwave-safety symbol. You will see three wavy lines on its body, which imply that the plastic used in the body is safe for cooking human food.
Ensure that the lid is very tight-fitting, almost air-tight, so that the cooking is done efficiently.
Microwave rice cookers are for you if you are looking for affordability, multi-purpose usage, and ease of cooking. Provided, the above two safeguards are present in the model.
There are three pain-points with ordinary rice cookers with sticky inner walls and bottom:
Rice is often overcooked if you are not vigilant
Cooked rice tends to stick on its walls and base if the cooker is not immediately washed after cooking. So annoying, isn't it?
You have to scrub an ordinary cooker heavily to ensure thorough hygienic cleaning
By choosing a non-stick rice cooker, you will avoid all these shortcomings. You will cook-and-clean in a breeze, and savor the perfectly cooked rice like a delicacy. You will also save on time and energy because heat transmission in these cookers is rapid.
Before you choose a non-stick rice cooker, be very sure that the non-stick coating does NOT contain perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). It is an out-of-use carcinogenic substance and should be avoided.
Also avoid cheap models, since their coating will wear off in a short time.
You can choose non-stick rice cookers if you want faster, bother-free cooking while retaining its taste and nutrition.
An amazing thing about rice recipes is that they can be savored for dinner as well as breakfast. However, both dinner and breakfast times are the busiest of hours for working people. This is especially true for couples, live-in partners, and nuclear families.
The dishwasher-friendly rick cooker is designed with the convenience of these people in mind. You can put it in the dishwasher, and it will take care of the safe, hygienic cleaning of this rice cooker.
Buy one if you are a busy-body, or if you love rice but hare cleaning rice cookers.
Domestic electrical supply has found many innovative uses, and one of them is cooking. Rather than using natural or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), you can use induction plates and stoves to cook. They get their name from the principle of induction heating, which occurs when electricity is firstly used to heat a copper coil. Its heat is then transferred to the ferromagnetic cooking top and then, to the cooking pot or cooker.
The benefits of induction rice cooker are:
- Rapid cooking, since induction heat is intense and fast
- Precise temperature control
- Richer, more "fluffy" cooked rice
- Delicious and nutritious
The induction rice cooker can be your primary rice cooker or a spare one, just in case your digital or other types of rice cooker conks off. You can even carry it with you on your road trips and use it as a plug-and-cook rice pot.
So, that's all about rice cookers. Before we go to the food steamer section, a word on rice cooker designs and varieties. Since the category is very popular, there are enough brands, designs, and varieties to confuse you. In a line, you will be spoilt for choices. However, remain focused on your preferences and requirements. Don't make an impulsive purchase. This appliance has to serve your purpose and also last long.
Food steamers are the basic variants of rice cookers. While you can cook, bake, and cake in rice cookers, you can only cook in food steamers. That said, you have the freedom of steaming rice, veggies, and even meat in them.
What Are the Benefits of Food Steamers?
- Cooks fast and easy
- No need for physical presence
- Retains the nutrients
- Low-fat - It steams out the fat from meat, seafood, and other items
- Retains moisture content, hence food is juicier and fresher
- No oil, no calories - you don't need oil as a cooking medium
- Preserves vitamins and minerals
- Keeps the natural taste intact
- Energy-efficient - cooks fast, hence uses less energy
- Easy to clean and maintain
What Type of Food Steamer Should You Choose?
Electric vs. Gas
If you are looking for a food steamer, firstly decide whether you want a gas or electric variant, based on your preferred energy source. If you are buying the steamer exclusively for kitchen use, go for a gas-based model. But if you want to use it in the kitchen as well as for outdoor use such as camping and road trips, select an electric steamer.
Also, please keep in mind that energy mode is not the only smart criterion for selection between these two types. Consider the overall performance, features, maintenance and upkeep, and durability criteria before selecting between electric or gas steamer.
Now, let's check out the main types of steamers.
These appliances work on the same principle of pressure-cooking, whereby steam trapped inside a locked cooking vessel creates high condensing temperature and pressure, and thus cooks food in the vessel.
Benefits of a pressure steamer are:
- Cooks rapidly and without supervision
- High pressure softens tough meats and seafood
- Available in various capacities, so good for families and social cooking
The downside of pressure steamers is that you will know the results only after the vessel is depressurized.
Pressure steamers will suit your needs if you typically cook for a family of four or more, or if you frequently need to cook larger quantities for guests.
This is a counter-innovation to pressure steamers that allows you to cook at atmospheric air pressure. This appliance has two compartments - boiler and cooking zone. The boiler releases steam in the cooking zone where food to be cooked is placed in a single or multiple pots or trays. Consistent release of steam cooks the food through heat convection. Benefits of pressure-free cooking are:
- Possible to cook single or multiple dishes in a single operation
- No taste or flavor transfer from one food to the other
- Hard foods made tender
- You can open the appliance during cooking time to check progress and cooking quality
- Domestic as well as community cooking possible, with different capacities
- Efficient cooking through an electronic control panel
- Programmed cooking possible
Pressure-free steamers are mostly meant for families and institutional cooking, not for singles or couples. Combine the above features and choose or don't choose this type, depending on what type of domestic setup you live in.
Also note, pressure-free steamers are less efficient at higher altitudes and lower temperatures since steam loses its "steam." You wouldn't want one if you are living in the Alps! Or, Alaska.
Pressure-free with steam circulation
This model is an improvised pressure-free steamer. It has the added feature of a fan that throws steam in the cooking zone in a regulated manner. Hence, cooking is uniform. The rest remains the same.
Before you make your final choice of food steamer, do check for these points:
Insulation. Your food steamer will work more efficiently and will consume less energy if the insulation is good.
Steamer capacity. It is very important to select the right capacity of the steamer, depending upon your food quantity requirement. Remember, like washing machines, steamers work most efficiently when fully loaded. Hence, don't purchase over-sized or under-sized steamers.
Water quality. Please check whether your steamer is compatible with the type of water you would be using. Some steamers work poorly with hard water.
Cleaning method. Your steamer will work more efficiently if it is well-maintained. So, opt for an upkeep-friendly model that requires minimum maintenance.
Rice cookers and food steamers prepare healthy food that is good in taste and nutrition and good for health. You will get less-fat, calorie-free, and oil-free food from these appliances, which tastes naturally delicious. Choose the one you need or choose both for increased versatility.