I used to love my rice cooker. Now I haven’t had one in years and couldn’t be happier.
Rice Cooker Backstory
I used to have a really nice rice cooker and I used it all the time. When I was younger, before being married, I was very active and ate a whole food diet. As such, plain brown rice was a staple of my household (you know, my tiny apartment) and my rice cooker was consistently humming. I found that the rice was the perfect combination of delicious, combined great with almost everything I cooked, stored well in the refrigerator, and was very affordable.
I’ll reiterate that I really like my rice cooker. It was a gift from a dear friend — a housewarming gift after starting a particularly important chapter in my life. Past that, it worked really well.
Honestly, I’m still shocked by how well rice cookers work. Throw in the rice, your water, and maybe a bit of salt (not even measuring any of them very carefully) and the rice is perfect every time. The brand of rice, the type of rice, and age of the rice, and all other variables don’t make any difference… the price is just great every time. It’s some sort of magic.
My biggest problem with my rice cooker was that cleaning it was rather unpleasant. Rice cookers produce a sort of glutinous gel that collects at the back of the cooker. It’s not a big deal to clean out, but it really seemed disassociated from the clean, wonderful experience of my cooker.
One Important Thing About Rice
One thing to know about rice is that it naturally collects arsenic, a dangerous substance, more so than other crops. Normal rice consumption isn’t necessarily a problem, but some cultures and some people eat a lot of rice and by properly cooking the rice you can greatly reduce the amount of arsenic in your rice.
This scientific paper details a method for boiling the rice in a way that removes over half the arsenic. The method is simple and effective. You can parboil the rice or even boil it in a lot of water in order to achieve a similar outcome.
This is the opposite of what a rice cooker does — the cooker starts off with exactly the right amount of rice and water and every drop of the water is even let off as steam or absorbed into the rice. This means the arsenic stays with the rice. A better method would be to parboil the rice, cook it in a lot of water, and then since before serving. Yes this drains the nutrients and it means getting perfectly textured rice is even more of a challenge, but it’s something you’ll want to consider.
Arsenic, and chemicals like it, are a part of life. Arsenic even occurs in drinking water. Even so, it makes sense for many of us to reduce our intake, especially when the effect on the food is minimal.
If you are a rice perfectionist or don’t eat rice often, then a rice cooker might definitely be the right choice for you, but I’ve given mine away and am happy with the decision.