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Need some practical pragmatic input on a rice cooker! [moved from Home Cooking]

Okay. I'm thinking about buying a Zojirushi induction 3 cup rice cooker. The kind that does the GABA brown rice and all that good stuff. But....! Is this something I really need? How much better does it cook rice than I can cook myself on the stove? I gather it will make congee, but not a word about whether it will make risotto. (I doubt it.) If you cook something with the rice (onions, garlic, durian, sausage, bell peppers), will the flavor linger in the next outing? So what I am trying to figure out is whether it is something I will be really happy about having bought, or is it another fast track to buyer's regret? Do you have/use a rice cooker, and what would it take to get you to give it up? Could you be happy without it? A curious mind.... Tell me! Please? '-)

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  1. I have two, one is a small, got it for one of my kids going to college, but he didn't use it, so I took it back. It's simple, easy to use, have not had flavors linger.
    I have another, larger one, too, but have only used it once when I wanted about 15 - 20 servings of rice. It does multiple things, but haven't read through the manual yet. It was under $50 so I'm not too worried about it. It's one of those things that when and if I want a large quantity of rice, it's just the thing.
    I use the small one (also pretty cheap) quite often. Never thought I would need a separate device just to cook rice, but I love it.

    1. I have a very inexpensive rice cooker I got at Costco about 20 years ago -- the kind that is under $20 today. It has two settings: warm and cook. It is so much easier than the stove that I have not done rice on the stove since I got it. It can also steam vegetables, but I have only done that once. I have done white and brown rice. I often add flavors with no lingering.
      You should be able to do congee in any rice cooker if you add a lot more water and cook longer. I plan on trying it soon. Unless it does a lot more than rice, congee and vegetables, I would not buy an expensive rice cooker.

      On a side note, I had one in a hotel room in Japan once (no microwave, just a rice cooker!). It was great for heating sake.

      1. I think it depends upon how often you make rice. For most Asian families, it seems to be a necessity. For me, it was a waste of money. I have no problem making rice in a heavy pot and I love to make risotto by hand. I gave away my rice cooker because, for me, it was a waste of kitchen space.

        1. We use a rice cooker every day because we primarily cook Chinese or Vietnamese meals with rice almost every day. Usually, the quality of the rice should exceed rice that was cooked on the stove. I like our rice cooker because you can set it to cook at a later time, and you don't need to watch or stir constantly as you would if you were cooking on a stove.

          I haven't cooked with durian, but I have cooked with other pungent foods, such as Cantonese salted fish and Chinese sausages. I've never had had any problems with odors.

          Different types of rice may require different levels of water, so make sure you follow the cooking instructions.

          We could live without it, but it would be a royal pain because of how frequently we eat rice.

          1. I have the 10 cup fuzzy logic one. I went from originally using a steamer, to then cooking rice on the stove to the Zojirushi over the last 15 years. I thought about getting the induction model but it was my first true rice cooker and I didn't know I'd love it as much as I do. For me the biggest selling point is the fact that it keeps the rice warm and ready to eat for hours and hours. I never have to worry about timing the rice to be done with everything else, and it's still serving temp if someone is late for dinner.

            1. I like mine. It really takes my mind off, so I can do other cookings at the same time.

              I don't cook rice as often as I do, but I still do it at about 2 times a week. As for congee, I actually like to do that on the stovetop because I like to cook my congee just the way I want it and like to add different ingredients at different time.

              1. I have the larger model with the GABA setting, and it is used on a daily basis. Believe it or not, I got mine with a perscription due to the GABA setting.

                My kid goes through rice like crazy - it is a standard in our house and I already have picked up a second riuce cooker for him to go away to school with a few years from now (A new Zoshi at a church sale for $5 - I was NOT going to let it sit there).

                1. It's also a painless way to cook polenta and other grains. Mine can be set to cook steel cut oatmeal overnight so it's ready for me in the morning.

                  1. I have a small programmable rice cooker that I got several years ago. It is perfect for different varieties of rice, but we especially like it for cooking oatmeal!

                    1. We have a small Zojirushi fuzzy logic after many years living with a cheapo rice cooker. As an Asian, a rice cooker is a MUST (even though I only cook rice once every other week), but I'm not sold on the Z fuzzy logic. The rice does come out slightly better than the cheap rice cooker (which in turn is slightly better than stove top), but it takes about 2x-3x as long to cook. I would just get a standard $20 rice cooker and be happy -- it'll keep your rice warm plus you don't have to watch the pot.

                      1. I have the zojirushi induction fuzzy logic rice cooker. It's nice. I don't use the keep warm feature as the rice gets overcooked, so maybe I'm not using exact right proportions of water for each of the different varieties of rice I cook. I wish I'd gotten the pressure cooker one with the GABA brown rice feature, but there are workarounds for germinating and cooking brown rice.

                        1. Get or peruse a copy of this book to learn what a rice cooker will do: The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook, by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann, c2002. There might be a newer edition of this.

                          There are complete descriptions of different rices and a variety of recipes, including several risottos.

                          Now for a confession. I bought mine a number of years ago so I could effortlessly make brown rice. I have discovered that making brown rice in the pressure cooker makes the best brown rice I've ever eaten.

                          But for white rice, the rice cooker can't be beat. Mine is a Zojirushi fuzzy logic.