5 Rules to Make Your Rice Cooker Last Longer
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It’s no secret that rice cookers are one of the most multifunctional appliances there is. From cooking rice to soups and stews, a rice cooker can help you ease your kitchen worries by letting you cook mostly hands-free. Some units even have additional functions for other types of grains and rice dishes.
Keeping your rice cooker in top shape doesn’t require much effort, yet some people neglect proper maintenance of their units, leading to the cooker breaking down earlier than their expected lifespan. Decent rice cookers are costly, so unless you have a lot of cash you don’t mind wasting, you’ll want yours to last a long time.
If you’re a new rice cooker owner and want to ensure your investment doesn’t go down the drain, below are the rules you need to follow to make your rice cooker last longer.
#1. Carefully Read the Manual
Avoid messing with the cooker if you are using it for the first time. To prevent making any errors that may permanently damage the unit, read the manual thoroughly before use.
This is particularly important if you’re using a slightly complex model. Once you’ve fully familiarized yourself with the features, you can start experimenting with different recipes.
#2. Keep the Inner Pot Clean After Every Use
It is difficult to get the inner pot replaced, probably even impossible, so this particular piece of equipment has to be properly maintained. You can’t use a fully functioning rice cooker if the inner pot has holes or rust.
One important thing to remember is to wash the inner pot after every use. This is to prevent the rice from completely drying up and sticking at the bottom of the pot. Also, try not to leave food in the unit. Bacteria will be attracted to food that has been left in the cooker for an extended length of time, which spoils the food faster. Once your unit has cooled, make sure to move the food or rice to a separate container.
To clean the inside pot, never use the abrasive side of a sponge and never set it upside down or on top of plates when drying. Doing any of these may permanently damage the nonstick coating.
#3. Clean the Entire Rice Cooker At Least Once a Week
While the inner pot is important, the rest of the unit requires proper cleaning too. Allocate at least 20 minutes of your weekend to clean the entire rice cooker, and follow the steps listed below:
- If you’re cleaning the unit after cooking, allow your rice cooker to cool to room temperature first. Unplug your rice cooker and wait for all of its detachable components to cool down to room temperature.
- Remove the components with care. These include the inner or detachable lid, steam cap, and inner pot. Set all items aside.
- You can use warm soapy water or your homemade cleaning solution. To make this solution, simply combine 2 teaspoons chlorine bleach, 2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid, and hot water.
- Soak the portions in this solution for 2 to 3 hours.
- Rinse well and dry completely with a towel. Drying each part separately with a gentle cloth is ideal.
- After wiping, allow the components of the rice cooker to air dry.
- For the rest of the unit, wipe the interior and exterior of the rice cooker with a slightly damp towel or cloth. You can use a wet towel, just make sure to wring off any extra water.
- Using a dry towel, wipe the power cable.
- Remove any grains or food that may have accumulated on the heating plate or center sensor.
- Wipe with a dry towel.
- Make sure that all of the pieces of the rice cooker are fully dry before reassembling the unit.
#4. Follow the Stated Capacity of the Rice Cooker
Always stick to the capacity of your rice cooker when you’re cooking. If the model has a capacity of 6 cups of uncooked rice, use only a maximum of 6 cups. The same can be said regarding the water level. Stick to the line etched in the inner pot, and if you have to, go only a few centimeters beyond the line.
Remember that it’s tough to cook a tiny amount of rice effectively in a rice cooker that’s too big and it’s not recommended to cook a large amount of food in a tiny unit. So if you’re still looking for a rice cooker to add to your home, make capacity your topmost priority. Read our guide on choosing the right rice cooker size here.
#5. Unplug the Rice Cooker When Not in Use
Many people use the rice cooker’s “keep warm” function to keep the rice fresh until they’re ready to eat, some even leaving it for up to 48 hours. While some units can actually handle this, it is not recommended.
Aside from rice drying out, bacteria can start growing and can stick to the crevices of your model’s inner lid. This can cause your food to spoil faster in your next cooking session. This may also wear out the lining of your inner pot quicker.
As much as possible, remove food from the unit as soon as you’re done eating and unplug the device.
Regularly cleaning and properly maintaining your unit will keep it in top form, and it only takes a few minutes of your day to do so. With proper care and maintenance, a decent rice cooker can last you years.