Help me choose a rice cooker!
Hi - I'm getting ready to turn in my Amex points to buy a rice cooker and can't decide between the following 3 models:
1) Zojirushi Micom 5-1/2-Cup Rice Cooker & Warmer
2) Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy® Rice Cooker & Warmer 10 cup NS-ZCC18
3) Cuisinart® Rice Plus Multi-Cooker with Fuzzy Logic Technology - up to 15 cups; With pre-programmed settings for six types of rice, plus oatmeal, soup, steam, slow cooking, and more – and easy dishwasher cleanup.
I know the Zojirushi's get rave reviews and I was going to go with one of those until I saw this new Cuisinart that has fuzzy logic and can also be used as a steamer, and supposedly you can use it for risotto - plus parts are dishwasher safe.
I have a family of four and would like to use it to make rice, rice dishes, oatmeal, grains. I don't currently make a lot of rice since I am "rice challenged". Otherwise, I'm an experienced cook and home baker. But as a working Mom, I also love my crock pot and like the idea of having rice, a rice dish, or oatmeal prepared ahead of time and ready when I want it.
Thanks in advance!
Just wanted to post an update to my OP above. I ended up with the 5 1/2 C Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy and couldn't be happier! I love it - even my husband says it's the best gadget I've ever bought. I've used it to make basmati, white, converted, jasmine, brown and gourmet blends of rice. I've also made rice pudding, steel cut oats and Scottish oats. All have been excellent! Following the Ultimate Rice Cooker cookbook with some slight modifications, I've even made a very respectable mushroom "risotto". I know purists will poo-poo making risotto in a rice cooker, but really it came out very good! I started out like a normal risotto in a skillet, sauteeing the onions, mushrooms and carnaroli rice, added wine and stock, then transferred to the rice cooker and used the porridge setting. Love my Zoji!
Hi - the Zojirushi model I got has a porridge setting to use for things like oatmeal and pudding. It comes out really really good! This is my first rice cooker, so not sure if you could make the oats in a regular rice cooker without the porridge setting. I've made the steel cut oats plain with water and also using a recipe from The Ultimate Rice Cooker cookbook that has whole milk, cinnamon and maple syrup, which is really rich and good. I tried making it with skim milk, but found that with the skim milk, the oats bubbled up too much and leaked a bit out of the top steam vent. They were still fine, but a little messy to clean up.
FoodieFrannie: Short answer is (2) -- but in the 5½ cup size, which is quite sufficient capacity for a normal family of four that does not include a child in sumo training.
Longer answer is that no automatic rice cooker makes good risotto, and if the makers of the Cuisinart claim that it can make risotto automatically, the clock just struck 13:00. The closest you can come to automating risotto making is by using a pressure cooker; the Kuhn-Rikon 2½ quart frypan http://www.kuhnrikon.com/products/pre... makes a mean batch of risotto ai funghi, but you really, really do need to stir the rice by hand to brown it (after cooking the diced onion to transparency) before adding the chicken broth and putting on the pressure lid. Even the Neuro Fuzzy® logic of the Zojirushi cannot do all that for you.
I don't have any of the rice cookers you mentioned above. I do have a smaller size Zojirushi rice cooker with Neuro Fuzzy (or is it Fuzzy Logic?) and it is a good rice cooker. I think for a family of four, a 4-6 cups rice cooker is good (agreeing with RichardM). A 1-cup raw rice can serve a single person for 3 meals or more. Therefore a 5 cup rice cooker can easily provide enough your family for a whole day worth of rice -- assuming you eat rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
A 15 cups rice cooker will be too big for you.
There's a post a few down called "in search of an inexpensive rice cooker" that you might like to look at if you haven't already done so.
Given your comments I would suggest that a 10c rice cooker would be too large. If you have a lot of rice eaters wandering in and out all day then that would be great but for a batch of rice for a meal for 4 (two kids?) I think a 4-6 cup would be fine.
Most of these 'automatic' rice makers (fuzzy or not) hold rice very well. I have a Tiger and sometimes start rice before going to bed. It tastes great the next morning. Of course, some models, like coffee makers, have a timer to start the rice early in the morning.
Thanks for the feedback - I'm limited to these 3 choices since I'm trading in my Amex points to get it, and those are the only 3 offered by Amex membership rewards. It's the only way I can justify buying myself new kitchen gadgets :-) If I were paying cash then yes, I'd probably go with a 5 cup. I know I can get a more affordable lower tech cooker for cash, but I want more of the bells and whistles of the higher end/fuzzy logic types.
I have read through the Zojirushi manual online and I can't figure out what is the minimum amount of rice you can make in the 10 cup. Can you use the 10 cup to make just a few cups? I also like the idea of making oatmeal and mixed rice dishes like jambalaya, etc. in addition to just straight up rice.
The Cuisinart manual says that you can cook a minimum of 1 cup dry rice and max of 8 cups dry rice (white). I think this model is new, so wondering if anyone has tried it. For the risotto, it gives the following instructions:
1. Add oil or butter per your recipe to the cooking pot and select the Risotto function by pressing the Menu button.
2. To start cooking, press the Start button. The white Start LED will light to indicate that the unit is cooking. Note: Do not use the Finish Time function for risotto.
3. Once the oil/butter is hot, add ingredients to sauté. It is during this time that you will sauté the rice and reduce the liquid (wine, apple juice if desired).
a. Once the sauté step is complete, add the broth and any desired spices and close the lid.
4. During and after cooking:
a. The current time will be displayed during the first portion of the cooking process. The Remaining Time will count down when there are 10 to 15 minutes remaining in the process. For a list of approximated cooking times, see page 10.
b. Once cooking time has expired, the unit will automatically switch to Keep Warm. The blue Keep Warm LED will light and the LCD will display the remaining Keep Warm Time. The unit will remain on Keep Warm for up to 24 hours. When the Keep Warm Time expires, the unit will turn off automatically. Note: We recommend serving risotto immediately for best results. If you use the Keep Warm function, stir more liquid (broth/stock) into the risotto to achieve a creamy texture again.
c. To turn off the unit at any time, press the Off button.
d. Once you are ready to serve, press the lid release button to open the lid.
e. Lift and remove cooking pot from the unit using pot holders.
FoodieFrannie: "The Cuisinart manual says that you can cook . . .risotto, it gives the following instructions:
Cooking Risotto ..."
That is an interesting concoction, but it is nothing like risotto, and Cuisinart's calling it risotto does not do much for Cuisinart's credibility.
FoodieFrannie: "I have read through the Zojirushi manual online and I can't figure out what is the minimum amount of rice you can make in the 10 cup. Can you use the 10 cup to make just a few cups?"
We have never tried it ourselves, but some people who have cooked small quantities of rice in 10 cup rice cookers have posted claims of success on this forum.
I'd be shocked at any decent rice maker wouldn't let you make small quantities. From personal experience I'd say 1 cup can be a little small for a bigger cooker (uneven distribution of grains) but 2 cups would be perfectly fine. The bigger cookers might not even have a 1-cup fill line.