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Need help picking rice cooker

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Hi all, I'm hoping you can recommend a rice cooker that will meet my needs. Years ago I had a small Japanese rice cooker with a metal pot and a simple on-off switch. It was basic but worked pretty well. After many years it broke, and I elected not to replace it. (A leg came off, and though it still cooked, it did not balance well.) I found that I preferred to cook rice in a pot, which gave me the ability to match the cooking method to the type of rice.

Well, now I have a baby, and so I have a need for a rice cooker again. I no longer have the time or attention span to stand by the stove and remove the rice the moment it's done. I would like to be able to come home from work, put the rice in the rice cooker, and then ignore it for an hour or two while I play with the baby and put him to bed. Then after the baby is asleep I could make something quick and easy to eat with the rice.

The kinds of rice I cook most frequently are:

Thai Jasmine (white)
Basmati (white)
Short grain brown rice

And less often I might make some kind of specialty whole grain rice such as Wehani, Bhutanese red, Black, etc.

I would be making rice primarily for two people (and maybe sometimes the baby, but he doesn't eat much), so the cooker should be able to make small amounts of rice well.

Also, I have a concern about the cooking materials. I have removed pretty much all the nonstick cookware from my kitchen due to health/cancer concerns. I have similar issues with aluminum. I don't really trust most items made in China. I would be willing to pay more for a rice cooker that was made of something I could feel confident about, healthwise. Otherwise, I don't think I need a lot of bells and whistles and usually prefer simpler appliances.

Thank you for your suggestions!

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  1. Which zojirushi? Thanks.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Westminstress

      You mean which model? To be honest, I don't know if my model is still here. It is the NS-KCC05:

      http://www.amazon.com/Zojirushi-NS-KC...

      It is part of the micom fuzzy logic ricecookers. Here are some current versions, if you are interested (look at the micom section):

      http://www.zojirushi.com/user/scripts...

      I believe they all have nonstick surface.

      By the way, I just remember about the clay rice cookers. So if you really want to avoid nonstick and aluminum rice cookers, maybe clay is an alternative. I have no idea how good they are, so you will have to look into them:

      http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_nos...

      Best.

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        Thank you very much! I had not heard of the Vitaclay but it looks like it will meet my needs. And on the same search page you linked there is also an all stainless steel rice cooker made by Miracle. Looks like the Amazon reviews on both models are good. So I simply have to choose between clay and stainless. Thanks again for your great response!!!

        1. re: Westminstress

          Good luck and let us know how it goes.

    2. West,

      Just because an item is listed as Made in China, it does not mean it is fully made in China. It only means it is assembled in China. iPhone is example for such a case. Although iPhone is labeled as "Made in China", China true contribution is less than 4%. Japan, German or Korea contributes more to iPhone.:

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...

      Now, buying a non "Made in China" rice cooker is the easy part. There are plenty "Made in Japan" and "Made in Korea" rice cooker. I like Zojirushi, but there are many other nice brands. Trying to avoid aluminum and also nonstick will be tough. What can one expect the rice cooker bowls to be made of? Copper? Carbon steel?

      1. I have both of these stainless steel (interiors) rice cookers and recommend them highly. I have used various rice cookers for years and wanted only the stainless steel ones. After researching on the internet I came up with these. I have had them for about 3 years now. There might be others out there now. http://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Steel...

        2 Replies
        1. re: barb2007

          Unfortunately for the original poster, these are made in China. Nothing wrong with it for myself, but it may be an issue for some people.

          1. re: barb2007

            Thanks, I was leaning towards the stainless steel over clay for ease of maintenance. Glad to hear this one functions well. Made in China isn't necessarily a deal breaker for me.

          2. Back in the late 50s, Toshiba liberated Japanese women from cooking with these monsters:

            http://www.wafu-living.com/product-p/...

            Still, no non-stick finish or aluminum to fret about! Currently available, durable, and Japanese-made, too!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Kagemusha

              Wow, that is pretty cool! I would love one of those. I don't think I make enough rice to justify the price, though I'm sure it is worth every penny.

            2. Hi OP -

              I have not been able to see the Sanyo or Cuckoo rice cookers, but the ONLY 3 cup rice cooker so far that I have come across made in Japan is the Zojirishi NP-GBC05.

              FWIW, I have a NP-HTC10 (5 cupper) the way. Also made in Japan....
              The 3 cup NP-GBC05 was a perfect fit for me in overall size and footprint but aesthetically, I chose the slightly more darker unit, thus the latter bigger unit was .

              My biggest GRIPE fwiw, is the quality of the inner pot. My previous daily unit was a PRC unit and the non stick coating wore off quickly as well as the top part right above the water level developed this grainy partina.. A replacement inner pot was $$$ in comparison to the value of the unit itself so I started my research on Japan made units.

              The non stick inner pots of both my 10 cup if not the previous previous 3 cup was considerable much more durable and remained smooth for the entire time I have been using it...

              The coating on my PRC Zoji. Rizo unit has even started ~chipping~ which led to me to stop using it for health concerns

              1. I have a Sanyo 3.5 C and love it. Not sure where they're made. Almost all the ones you find now have a non-stick coating, but do keep in mind that the heat is not that high, it will almost never be heated without something in it, and the modern coatings are pretty tough. The only abrasion it will see is when you're rinsing the rice in the pot. Timer is essential, especially if you're cooking a lot of brown rice. I am not a big fan of nonstick, but do use a rice cooker with a non-stick coating frequently, and I sleep Ok at night.

                There are some with a zisha / stoneware insert, but I'd be wary of those, because there have been some recent scandals about these clays (especially when used for slow cookers etc.). I would also worry that ease of cleaning might be hard.

                1. Hi Westminstress, I just dropped in to do a search as I have the same question, for the same reasons.

                  Which rice cooker did you end up with and how is it working for you?

                  ~TDQ

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    I'm just reading these posts now, too. I'm interested in the Miracle at
                    http://www.amazon.com/Stainless-Steel...
                    because the reviews look so good.
                    I'm wondering if you bought this, Westminstress. If you did, let us know if you like it as much as the reviewers do.

                    1. re: Rella

                      i'm leaning towards the aroma bc it's surgical stainless, which is the best per debra's list.

                      http://www.amazon.com/Aroma-NRC-600-N...

                      but, i'm still unsure which is the best choice for me.

                      ~tdq

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Seeing your Aroma link, I went running to the kitchen to see my Aroma (with stainless-steel insert) only to confirm that yes, it indeed has the coated bowl and is probably the reason I bought another (yes, yet another!) coated bowl, Zojirushi, which I am using now. I see where one reviewer says that the stainless bowl and insert will not work on my old Aroma.

                        That I have this Aroma rice cooker around amazes me, as a couple of weeks ago, I got rid of what I thought was everything non-stick in my house. It's funny how you get used to having non-stick around. The other day I was making french toast for breakfast when I had to stop and think, "Now, did I give that Cuisinart electic skilled away." I have to admit, I was relieved that I had, and I had a huge 15" skillet to use. Yes, the toast stuck, but it was wonderfully crispy in places from all the butter it was fried in and added to.

                        Since I've owned an Aroma (or two), I may lean toward the Miracle - and of course, it is cheaper; however, we all know that cheaper may be not necessarily better or worse.

                  2. if you buy an electric one, be very careful of having it plugged in and on without water and the cooking pot in place..you could damage it and make it useless!! Read the instructions and remember them...I ruined a new machine.because of this..I had a Cuisinart and paid $70.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: fjw

                      A fiasco for me which totally ruined it -- my fault, of course.

                      One day, being especially busy, I measured out the water and poured it into the bowl of rice that was supposedly in the rice cooker. I had failed to insert the bowl into the rice cooker. Yes, it was a total loss!