Rice Cookers, An Ancient Invention?

I had always seen rice cooked in a pot on the stove, I had also used a hotpot to the same effect. I then purchased a rice cooker, where the small but powerful appliance changed my cooking habits forever.

I was concerned that the cooker would produce rice that I was unfamiliar with, in retrospect, I’m not sure why I worried. What was the worst that could happen? My rice turns into porridge?

All you have to do is measure the correct amount of rice, place it in the appliance, wash the rice, measure some water then switch the machine on. An audible beep informs you when the rice is cooked. You get to enjoy perfect rice every-time.

But that’s not all. New models push the limits of the term rice cooker. Equipped with features like magnetic fields, fuzzy logic and artificial intelligence, and with cooking versatility ranging from stew to bread, today’s rice cookers are the go-to kitchen appliance.

A Brief History

Before Japan’s post-war revival, people cooked rice on large stoves made to accompany giant pots. The nature of these stoves made controlling temperatures tricky and cooking delicious rice difficult.

Manufacturers attempted to make up for the lack of technology at the time, instructing the cook to begin at low heat, then increase the heat, and then lower the heat again when the pot began to bubble. Not the most technical of advice.

The post-war period left companies searching for new ways to make money. Cash was hard to come by and rice was often traded as currency. War factories closed down and left Japan with plenty of electricity but few ways to utilize it. These two factors would soon lead to a rice cooking revolution.

At the time, Sony focused on modifying and repairing radios built to strict wartime specifications but were looking to expand. How could they take advantage of the electrical productivity of a rice-fed nation like Japan?

Technological Boom

The first electric rice cooker was a simple invention. Two interlocking aluminum electrodes which were connected to the bottom of a wooden tub, not very advanced and it was very restrictive. The result depended heavily on the kind of rice used and the weight of the water. Tasty rice was a rarity, as the rice cooker produced mostly under cooked or overcooked rice. It was not the best prototype to hit the small appliance market.

Sony were not alone in working towards a practical and convenient rice cooking appliance, and thanks to competition, the quality of rice cookers quickly improved.

In 1955, Toshiba released the first widely used commercial rice cooker. After trying different techniques, they invented the double-pot indirect cooking method. This is where a cup of water was poured into the outer pot, and the machine automatically turned off when all of this water evaporated, signaling that the rice was ready.

Because of the technological boom in the 1950’s, Japan brought many appliances to the market, at a price many households could afford. These included refrigerators, television sets and washing machines. The rice cooker could have easily been declared Japans savior. The convenient appliance became a cultural mainstay, offering safely cooked, delicious rice while rendering the more dangerous, inconsistent large pots obsolete.

By 1960, competition in the market meant more features were added to rice cookers. The first examples of built in ‘keep warm’ functions and some models included timers.

With modern technology, more and more features are appearing on rice cookers. There are a multitude of options available. If you are in the market for a rice cooker, be sure to read some rice cooker reviews. You really can’t go wrong if you ensure the model you are looking at has all of the features and functions you require.

Breville Kitchen Appliances

Breville are a market leader in small kitchen appliances. They have a huge range of models available, from sandwich toasters to kettles, they have an appliance for all of your needs. Below you will find a list of the best Breville appliances that are available.

Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven 

This is the number one seller when it comes to toaster ovens. A quality appliance that is well built and user friendly. The Breville BOV 800XL toaster oven is very well priced and offers a good amount of functions. The stylish stainless steel finish is complimented with a blue LCD display.

The large cooking area can toast up to 6 slices of bread or cook a 13 inch pizza. The smart oven is equipped with element IQ cooking technology, which adjusts the power of the five individual quartz heating elements to cook food more evenly and quickly.

Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain Plus 850-Watt Juice Extractor 

With people worrying about the nutrition in the food we buy from stores, juicers are becoming a very popular appliance to have in the kitchen. This is a high quality model at an entry level price.

Ideal for first-time juicers, this juicer runs on 850 watts and has two speeds, 12,000 RPM or 6,500 RPM, for hard and soft ingredients. This juicer is silver and black and will look great in any kitchen. Live a healthy lifestyle, and treat yourself to a juicer.

  • Extra-wide 3-inch feeder chute can create an 8oz. cup of juice in just 5 seconds
  • 850-watt dual-speed motor; powerful stainless-steel cutting disc for fast results
  • Safety locking arm; overload protection LED; large-capacity pulp collector
  • Dishwasher-safe parts; includes 1-liter juice jug with froth separator, filter basket, and cleaning brush
  • Patented extra large feed

Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine 

A huge amount of people start every day with a coffee. With this professional machine you will be able to produce coffee shop style beverages. The built in milk frother allows you to make latte’s and cappuccino’s.

It is a quality appliance that is finished in stainless steel, most definitely an appliance to keep out on display.  Coffee shops can be expensive, why not make yourself a long term saving by buying a barista style coffee machine.

  • 15 bar Italian pump and 1600W thermo coil heating system
  • Purge function which automatically adjusts water temperature after steam for optimal espresso extraction temperature
  • Stainless steel conical burr grinder with 1/2 lb.
  • Sealed bean hopper
  • 67 fl.oz (2L) removable water tank with handle

Breville BSG520XL Panini Duo 1500-Watt Nonstick Panini Press

This list of Breville appliances would not be complete without a sandwich toaster, the appliance that brought them to fame. This model can produce perfectly toasted panini’s or sandwiches. This would be perfect for any house hold, or could be used in a professional capacity.

The panini duo’s top plate delivers beautiful grill marks on any kind of bread, while its bottom plate delivers even and quicker heat on the flat to make the perfect Panini or your own toasted sandwich creation.

  • 1500-watt panini press with non stick, scratch-resistant quantanium cooking surface
  • Flat bottom plate for fast, thorough cooking;
  • Ribbed top plate creates grill marks
  • Floating hinge
  • 4 height settings
  • Nonslip feet and locking storage clip
  • Brushed stainless-steel housing
  • Provided with user manual with recipes included
  • Measures 13 by 11-3/4 by 5-1/4 inches
  • 1-year limited warranty

Breville SK500XL Ikon Cordless 1.7-Liter Stainless-Steel Electric Kettle

This is a modern and stylish kettle, finished in stainless steel. It can rapidly boil up to 3 litres of water. The kettle has a unique backlight behind the water window.

While it is not the cheapest kettle on the market, the speed at which it boils and its stylish looks make it a great choice.

  • 1500-watt cordless kettle rapidly boils up to 3 liters of water
  • Cushion-controlled lid
  • Water-level indicator and removable scale filter
  • Easy “on/off” switch
  • Auto shut-off with boil-dry protection
  • Brushed stainless-steel housing and soft-grip handle
  • Measures 8-3/4 by 6 by 9 inches
  • 1-year limited warranty

The Top Five Ice Making Machines

An ice making machine is a great, modern appliance to have in the home. We have all had to make a mad dash mid-party to the store because we have run out of ice. If you invest in an ice machine, you will no longer have to deal with those stressful situations.

A fantastic website that is dedicated to the large world of ice making machines has been created. They have plenty of reviews and give you an awesome comparison between models available. Click the link above to visit the website.

The five ice making machines I am writing about offer different features and at least one of them should fit your needs!

Avalon Bay AB-ICE26s Portable Ice Maker 

This little machine offers fantastic ice making capabilities, stylish looks and great functionality.

A fantastic choice if you are looking for an ice machine that you can bring with you on days out, or if you prefer to locate the machine in different rooms. It is not a permanent installation. It only weighs 26 lbs, so moving it around the house is very easy. Finding room on counter tops will be easy too because it only measures 11 inches X 14.8 inches X 14.7 inches.

Simply fill the machine with 20 gallons of water, choose one of two settings for ice size, press one button and the ice maker will produce nine cubes of ice in around six minutes. It can supply an impressive 26 lbs of ice in a 24 hour period.

A great choice if you need something portable, you need to produce a good amount of ice and something simple to use.

U-Line – Built in Ice Machine 

This would make a great addition to any kitchen. Anyone that is lucky enough to have a bar at home should have a serious look at this model too.

It is fairly small for a permanent installation. It only measures 13-15/16 inches X 23-3/4 inches X 17” so it will fit into the smallest of spaces. Even though it is small in size, it can produce 23 lbs of ice a day, using only three gallons of water.

The machine is energy efficient too. It can store up to 12 lbs of ice, this means it will produce that amount, and then switch itself to standby mode.

Installation for the U-Line is as easy as you can get. You simply connect it onto the water line, no drain is required! The machine comes with a comprehensive one-year warranty too.

A serious option if you are looking for a small machine that is able to produce a good amount of ice. At the price you can purchase this model for, it is a fantastic choice.

EdgeStar 50lb Under Counter Clear Ice Maker 

This model has a sleek and contemporary, commercial stainless steel finish. If you are looking for a nice machine that makes an impact, this is the one for you.

A huge removable ice bin can store 25lbs of ice, making it a good option if you are hosting a party. You can simply carry the bin to the required location.

This ice maker will fit under most conventional counter tops. It measures 32.8 inches X 14.6 inches X 23.6 inches. The door is reversible so will fit into any kitchen. If you are looking for the machine to stand alone, the whole machine has a stainless steel finish, so it will look fantastic wherever you decide to locate it.

An external pump will drain excess water from melted ice easily and hygienically.

If you are looking for lots of restaurant quality clear ice, and a machine that looks great. The EdgeStar is an obvious choice.

Whynter IMC – Portable Ice Machine 

This model is another portable option. Being able to offer three sizes of ice, this machine can produce as much as 12 cubes in six minutes, making it a great option if you enjoy entertaining. This machine can produce a whopping 33 lbs of ice per day, so you will never run out of ice. Moaning guests are not the perfect way to send a party off in style.

The high efficiency CFC free compressor is environmentally friendly, an important feature for many.

The Whynter portable ice machine has a removable water bin to ensure that you do not experience puddles. It is supplied with an ice scoop too. Although it weighs a little more than other portable models at 32 lbs, it offers brilliant results.

A good portable option for entertaining. If you are expecting to use a lot of ice but do not have space for a built in model, this is a fantastic choice.

Scotsman Brilliance 60 Pound Nugget Ice Machine 

I thought I would finish up my top five with another permanent fixture. This model is of a professional standard. It is a freestanding ice machine that has a stunning stainless steel finish. It will compliment any modern kitchen.

The Scotsman produces soft, chewable ice and absorbs the flavour of the beverage. Perfect for anyone looking to cool down a drink or make the perfect cocktail.

This ice machine can produce 30 lbs of ice a day and stores an incredible 26 lbs. You truly will never have to worry about running out of ice with this machine.

A lot of bars and restaurants have installed the Scotsman. If you require a machine that will produce a lot of ice, and has that professional quality to it, this machine is the one for you.

Which Machine Will You Choose?? 

With so many options to choose from, making the correct decision can be a tricky one. With the five machines I have written about, you will be buying a good quality appliance that produces plenty of ice.

I have detailed five different options. There are free standing, under counter and portable ice makers. They are all fantastic machines. The choice is yours!

A Powerful Rice Cooker and Steamer in One – Aroma ARC-914SBD Rice Cooker

With all of the different appliances that are available on the market today, you could be in danger of filling your kitchen with gadgets that never get used. The perfect solution is to buy an appliance that has a multitude of functions.

This Aroma model will cook rice and can be used as a steamer too. The fantastic thing with the Aroma, is that it will do both at the same time, making meal times quick and easy.

Looking at a dedicated rice cooker website, I found a review on the Aroma 2 quart ceramic rice cooker with timer. The link will take you directly to the website so take a look for yourself. After using this rice cooker and food steamer, I decided to review it for myself.

Features 

  • Cooks between 2 and 8 cups of uncooked rice in 30 minutes
  • Dual layered cooking enables user to steam vegetables or meat while rice cooks below.
  • Easy to use controls
  • Programmable 15 hour delayed timer for flexible meal planning
  • 4 setting controls including white rice, brown rice, steam and keep warm

Design 

This model is a fantastic little appliance. It would be perfect for a family. You can set the programmable timer to the exact time that you require cooking to commence. The food will be freshly prepared at the stated time.

The layered cooking system allows you to steam vegetables and meat above the cooking rice. You can literally cook a whole meal with this one appliance. You can also use the Aroma rice cooker to cook curries, stews, soup and chilli. It would be a brilliant choice for busy families that struggle for time, let the rice cooker work away unsupervised.

As it is able to cope with so many tasks, you would imagine it to be huge. You would be wrong, the dimensions are 8.5 inches X 9.3 inches X 8.7 inches and only weighs 4.2lbs. The unit stores away without any problems and with it being light, it could tuck away on an unused top shelf.

The controls are very easy to use. You simply have 4 selections, one for each type of rice and one for the keep warm function.

There are much bigger models available on the market, but this rice cooker can produce 8 cups of rice in half an hour. This would be plenty for a family of 4 during a normal meal time.

Benefits 

  • The 15 hour delayed timer enables you to plan meal times effectively
  • Multiple use, it is a steamer as well as a rice cooker
  • Simple and easy to use controls
  • Fantastic energy efficiency
  • Light and portable

Disadvantages 

  • Not the quickest model available
  • Has a few tight spots when cleaning 

Verdict 

The Aroma rice cooker and food steamer really is a versatile tool to have in the kitchen. It will cook your rice while meat and vegetables steam above. Why buy lots of different kitchen gadgets, this appliance does so many jobs.

It is priced very well, in fact you would think it is an entry level model, but with so many functions, it is way ahead of competitors.

The compact and stylish design is modern but still very practical.

If you are looking for a versatile and user friendly rice cooker. This should be a definite appliance to consider when making your choice.