The readers that come to this article might be wondering whether they need or not a rice cooker. In my opinion, answering this question depends on others such as how often would you use it, if you would use it just for rice or also for other foods, and so on. Comparing the Best Zojirushi Rice Cookers
In my case, I am half Japanese and I was raised eating white rice every day. For the past 20 years, my family has owned a Zojirushi rice cooker. (Always the same unit, bear in mind.) It is a 5-cup model that we use almost every day. It has the normal features you would expect from a rice cooker, such as retractable cord, a very good non-stick layer on the bowl and inner lid, removable parts for speed cleaning, automatic warming mode once the rice is ready, and so on. It helps us a great deal at the kitchen, since it saves our time so we are free to do whatever else we want. It is a good size for a family of 4-6 people.
When I left home and came to Japan to study, three years ago, I decided to buy a Panasonic rice cooker instead. I had different things in my mind back then. For starters, Panasonic is also a reliable Japanese company that produces quality goods. The price was a bit cheaper as well. But the selling point for me was the electricity consumption: the 3-cup model that was offered by Panasonic at the time saved a little bit more energy than the others. Although I don’t remember the exact figures, it was something around 4-5%. It came with a vegetable steamer accessory, which surprised me a little. So I figured it would be a nice deal and I bought one of these to myself. I live with my girlfriend and this size suits us fine.
Rice cookers nowadays make more than white rice. You can also prepare brown rice and sushi rice, both of which require different water-rice proportions and amounts of time when compared to plain rice. You can steam vegetables, fish and chicken. My mom has already used a rice cooker to make paste, fry eggs and boil water. And, last but not least, I have seen recipes for preparing banana cakes and breads on one of these machines!
In sum, they can be very versatile if you are a college student (no need to own a microwave oven or a normal oven for the activities I just described) or very distracted (due to the auto-warming function once the food is done, your rice will never be undercooked or burnt again) — a very nice purchase, if I may say.
If you have a bigger family, you can use the warming function from your 5-cup rice cooker to keep soups and stews warm during the Winter. You can even choose the style of your rice cooker to match, in general lines, your decoration or your china: white for more traditional homes, or stainless steel for more modern ones.
Finally, you can also prepare oatmeal beforehand. This is how it works: you put all the oatmeal ingredients in your cooker and program the output to, say, 8:35am the next day. Press start and go to bed, your breakfast will be done on the next day. You can also do the same with rice in the morning, before you leave your house, and have it done by dinner time. That is how easy it is.