As the name suggests, an electric rice cooker is an electrical kitchen appliance used to cook rice. It comprises a cooking bowl, a heat source, and a thermostat that work in union to prepare rice for you. It is the thermostat that measures the temperature and controls the heat, in order to avoid cases of undercooking or overcooking.
While in some high-end models, there can be sensors or other advancements that enhance the cooking process. This small appliance is a perfect addition for students, new cooks, or busy households who don’t know much about cooking or just don’t have enough time to cook. This automated method of preparing rice will not require your supervision at all and you won’t have to compromise on the taste of your food as well.
Let’s see the different parts that make up an electric rice cooker.
Different Parts Of Electric Rice Cooker
It is the outer pot that holds the inner vessel, heating plate, and the major electric circuits located under the base. The material used in making the main body is usually either stainless steel or plastic.
Inner Vessel or Pot
It is the inner vessel where the entire cooking process takes place. Most rice cookers use non-stick material to make the inner pot. Other materials used are aluminium, stainless steel, and anodized aluminium.
The heating plate or heating element depends on the type of rice cooker. It can either be direct heat, heating the vessel directly at its base or induction heating that heats the entire vessel because of a magnetic field.
It is this thermal sensor that senses if the temperature inside the pot has reached its boiling point. Upon measuring the temperature, it then, signals the cooker to end the cooking process, indicating that the rice has been cooked.
The indicator lights provided let you know the stage of the cooking process, i.e., if the device is in the cook mode or in the resting/keep warm mode.
These are usually a part of advanced electric rice cookers where there are multiple settings to choose from. These are display options for functions like delay start, different cooking modes, etc.
How Does an Electric Rice Cooker Work?
For raw rice to turn into long and fluffy rice, you require only two things – Water and Heat. This is what is provided in a standard electric rice cooker, which divides the entire cooking process into four stages. Let’s have a look at its working.
Sitting stage is the first stage where rice and water are put inside the pot of the cooker. The thermal sensing element, located at the base of the cooker’s main body is pressed down upon by the weight of the rice and water. When the device is turned on, the heat is conducted to the pot by the heating plate.
Heating and Boiling Stage
Now comes the second stage of heating and boiling. Here, the main focus is on boiling the water inside the pot. The time taken to boil the water largely depends on the material of the inner pot and the quantity of water that it holds. Generally, it takes around fifteen minutes to prepare one cup of white rice.
Absorbing Water or Steaming Stage
This stage is a little complicated one and the entire rice cooker working can actually be summed up in this stage. So, when the water inside the cooker starts to boil, the device starts releasing the steam. Here, all the water is absorbed by the rice and once this happens, the temperature of the inner vessel starts rising again.
In standard rice cookers, a small button is placed within the heating element that is loaded by a spring. At this spring’s base, a permanent magnet is placed. The button is of material that is attracted to magnets, which when pressed upon is held to the magnet by a magnetic force. So, when the cook mode is activated, the device gets full power.
However, that magnetic force between the button and the magnet becomes weaker once a certain heat temperature is reached. Generally, it is a bit higher than the boiling point, which makes it a temperature dependent kill switch. It is given this name because once the inner pot is heated beyond the boiling point, the button becomes too hot to be attracted to the magnet at the base.
It is this loss of magnetism that makes the lever to lose its power, thereby allowing the cooker to bypass the electric resistor. This, in turn, results in the cooker going from the full power mode to the warm mode. You will see the movement of the lever as the outside switch goes from cook to warm mode.
To put it in a nut shell, the entire working of a standard electric rice cooker depends on the magnet, which is capable of sensing the temperature and heat of the water.
The resting or the keep warm stage is the last stage of the entire rice cooking process. Here, the inner vessel is kept at low, warming temperature to let the rice rest for a while after cooking. This happens because of the power cord that passes through a resistor, thereby limiting the current and keeping temperatures low inside the pot. Most rice cooker models can keep the rice warm for a long time and then shut off automatically. While others remain warm till the time they are plugged in.
Hence, these four stages comprise the working process of an electric rice cooker.