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Electric Rice Cookers

Page history last edited by Denise Bucci 10 years, 3 months ago

The electric/automatic rice cooker is an important invention that serves the majority of Japanese households to this day and greatly reflects Japanese culture.  Rick cookers, or suihanki, are useful for preparing rice easily and allowing it to stay warm and fresh throughout the day.  






1945-- First electric rice cookers produced by Mitsubishi Electric Corporation

  • Not very user-friendly, required constant supervision while cooking the rice


1956-- Yoshitada Minami-- Toshiba Electric Corporation

  • First successful electric rice cookers
  • Thermostat part of rice cooker, would turn off automatically when finished to not burn the rice, much easier to use
  • Nearly instant success~200,000 rice cookers produced per month by Toshiba for the Japanese


1960-- Rice cookers in about half of Japanese households


1980's-- Simple rice cookers manufactured widely in China and Korea, eventually spreads to some other countries and regions


1988-- Induction Heating (IH) rice cookers

  • Rice cooked more evenly, better taste
  • Increased popularity



Basic Model


  • Removable bowl placed inside an insulated container
  • Heating plate on the bottom
  • Lines marking water level based on amount of cups of rice
  • Cook and Stay-Warm functions-- can keep rice warm for around 24 hours
  • Can select cooking time on some rice cookers, more specific options



Main Brands


  • Zojirushi= #1 brand


  • Toshiba
  • Panasonic
  • Sanyo
  • Tiger 
  • Mitsubishi Electric



Main Benefits & Other Uses


  • Can cook rice perfectly with very minimal maintenance
  • Uncomplicated
  • Affordable
  • Can keep rice warm for 24 hours
  • Takes up little space
  • Some other uses:
      • Soup
      • Stew
      • Steamed vegetables
      • Oatmeal
      • Spaghetti
      • Bake cakes
      • Cook eggs
      • Meat
      • Dumplings 




Japan and the Rice Cooker


  • Rice cookers are currently a part of about 95% of Japanese homes..... WHY?
  • Rice cooked on a kamado before invention of electric rice cookers
      • Kamado= large stove usually in the corner of a kitchen,
      • High maintenance- needed to build fire, maintain correct amount of heat, watch over fire 



  • Invention of the electric rice cooker known as the "Kitchen Revolution"
      • Way less maintenance, less housework....... Fantastic for Japan's fast-paced society
      • Keep warm function, Timers...... Can leave rice ready to eat throughout the day, easy for the whole family if already cooked
      • Takes up little space........ Works well since there is limited space in many Japanese homes
      • Multi-purpose cooking appliance......... Don't need excess appliances, small rice cooker can serve many functions
      • Easy....... Anyone can use to make delicious rice!
  • Changed Japanese lifestyle
  • Rice usually cooked once a day in Japan, either breakfast or dinnertime, then left for the rest of the day




Insider/Outsider Concept:

  • Unique Japanese invention
      • More complex models, added invention of the automatic timer, etc. all ideas from Japan
  • Japanese rice cookers only available in Japan for a long time after their invention, slowly moved to availability in other parts of Asia
  • Sold worldwide around 30 years after their invention
  • Today, high end rice cookers only available in local market in Japan
  • Simple models available in the West, on Amazon, etc.




Just for fun....!


  • The "rice bread cooker," or "Gopan" by Sanyo Electric, made in 2010
      • Features 22 settings for making different kinds of bread





  • High temp steam rice cooker



  • Film critic Roger Ebert's love for the rice cooker in The Pot and How to Use It, the mystery and romance of the rice cooker.
      • Released in 2008, dozens of recipes for dishes to make in rice cooker
      • Jambalaya, oatmeal, chili,  













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