For hundreds of years, humans have used various tools and appliances to aid them in everyday tasks, especially in cooking. Today, kitchen appliances, especially rice cookers and pressure cookers, continue to evolve as changes in the consumer landscape emerge. This article will help you find out the differences between rice cookers vs. pressure cookers.
Rice cookers are primarily used for cooking rice, but they can also cook other food items like meat and vegetables. Pressure cookers are ideal for when you want to tenderize meats quickly, but they are also helpful for cooking one-pot meals like stew or pasta.
A Brief History of the Rice Cooker Vs. Pressure Cookers
For the average person, having kitchen appliances makes cooking more convenient and a little less stressful. In Asia, where rice is a staple food in most meals, having a reliable and good-quality rice cooker is essential. First invented in Japan way back in 1955, rice cookers have become a must-have in most Asian households.
Toshiba Corporation was the pioneer of the first commercially available automated electric rice cookers, which they introduced in December 1956. However, demand for rice cookers across Asia increased around the 1960s after Hong Kong-based CEO William Mong introduced National’s (now called Panasonic) rice cooker to the Chinese market.
Hong Kong’s free port aided in spreading the rice cooker across Asia and to populations worldwide. The most noteworthy contributor to this was the local and ethnic distribution method which forged a deep connection between Asians the need for rice cookers in Asian households.
At present, rice cooker sales in Japan closed off at approximately 5.43 million units in Japan in 2020 and over 4.47 million units in the U.S. in 2019.
Now, looking at the Western side of the world, the invention of pressure cookers completely changed the game when it came to cooking. The earliest use of steam pressure to cook food dates back to 1679, when French physicist Denis Papin invented the steam digester.
However, it was not until the mid 20th century that pressure cookers became popular among the masses. Since then, many American and European manufacturers have competed to create the best pressure cookers available commercially.
Pressure cookers have undergone three-generational developments with traditional stovetop pressure cookers with only one pressure level being the first generation, pressure cookers fitted with two or more pressure options as the second generation, and electric models with various functions and cooking options being the third generation pressure cookers.
In the present-day US, one of the most popular kitchen appliances is undeniably the pressure cooker. In fact, over 21% of Americans own an Instant Pot, a top pressure cooker brand that originated from Canada.
At first glance, rice cookers and pressure cookers look very similar, and you might end up buying the other if you don’t read the label correctly. But despite their similar appearances, rice and pressure cookers have significant differences that determine their overall performance as kitchen appliances.
Differences Between Rice Cookers And Pressure Cookers?
To determine more differences between rice cookers and pressure cookers, this section of the article will touch on three factors where both appliances differ: purpose and how it works, extra functions or options, and what they are best used for in the kitchen.
1. Purpose And How It Works
As its name implies, the primary purpose of a rice cooker is to cook almost all rice varieties. A rice cooker has an external heating source responsible for evaporating the water and seeping it into the rice while it is cooking. This mechanism also allows it to warm the rice and maintain its soft texture for a few hours, even after cooking.
On the other hand, a pressure cooker is known to be an all-in-one appliance that can cook a variety of dishes in a short amount of time. It works by sealing off the steam inside using a specially designed lock and seal.
Because the steam is kept in, the high-pressure level inside the pot helps reduce the cooking time, especially for stiffer meats.
2. Extra Functions Or Options
It might come as a surprise, but rice is not created equal, and each kind is cooked differently. There are several rice varieties, and each one may require varying cook times. For this reason, some rice cookers offer several cooking programs to cook different kinds of rice, including sushi rice, brown rice, mixed-grain rice, etc.
Although the rice cooker’s primary use is to cook rice, some rice cookers can cook similar dishes. Multi-function rice cookers come with extra accessories, including a steaming basket to cook soft and small pieces of meat, fish, or other food items that can be cooked using steam, such as oatmeal, eggs, and vegetables.
Being known as a one-pot meal cooker, a pressure cooker comes with several useful functions. It can be used as a slow cooker, and it even has options for cooking a variety of dishes, including stew, pasta, and even rice.
It’s also important to note that pressure cookers come in two types: electric and stovetop. Modern electric pressure cookers come with more settings such as digital timers or controllers and even smart programming, which provides pre-set cooking times. On the other hand, traditional stovetop pressure cookers are only fitted with a valve to let off pressure and rattles loudly when excess steam is released.
Additionally, an electric pressure cooker has specific buttons that will let you cook almost anything, but it can be bulkier than a traditional stovetop pressure cooker. A stovetop pressure cookers provide additional versatility, allowing you to manually control and release pressure at a more affordable price range.
3. Ideal Uses
As mentioned, rice cookers are best used for cooking rice perfectly. If you are a person who’s on the go and doesn’t have time to keep checking on the rice while it’s cooking, then a rice cooker would be an excellent investment. Rice cookers are also great for steaming small batches of steamable food items such as meat buns or potatoes, carrots, and squash.
Pressure cookers are versatile and can be used to cook a variety of dishes. But the pressure cooker’s expertise lies in tenderizing stiff meat, especially those near bony parts, in a short amount of time. Pressure cookers are especially ideal for making meat stews or dishes using tougher food items like beans.
So, now that we’ve taken a look at some key differences between rice cookers vs. pressure cookers, let’s try to examine the advantages and disadvantages of each kitchen appliance.
Rice Cooker Advantages And Disadvantages
A rice cooker is generally a dedicated appliance for cooking rice, but it’s always a good idea to consider some of its pros and cons before purchasing one.
As mentioned, rice cookers are the experts at cooking rice, and they also can cook different types of rice to perfection. Despite the lack of functions to cook other meals or food items, rice cookers will most definitely cook virtually all kinds of rice.
Rice cookers automatically cook rice at the right temperature. They also have an automatic shut down feature, which means it is energy-saving and convenient to cook rice unattended.
One of the pains of cooking is the after-clean, but you don’t need to worry about rice cookers. The average rice cooker is relatively straightforward; it has removable stainless steel or cast iron inner pot and the main body where the inner pot goes in and over the heating plate located at the base. It would be best if you cleaned the inner pot every use, but the main body only needs some wipedowns now and then.
Additionally, most rice cookers are small and lightweight, so it has a bonus of mobility, making it easier to clean and move around. If you’re a rice cooker owner and need to move someplace else, you won’t ever have to worry about leaving your rice cooker behind.
The next advantage rice cookers have is safety. Rice cookers are specifically designed to reach and stay at boiling point, around 100 °C or 212 °F. When the water has mostly been absorbed or evaporated, the automatic shut-off feature found on most models will shut off the heat entirely. Still, some models with a “warming mode” can keep the rice cooker at a safe temperature of only around 65 °C or 150 °F.
Because average rice cookers are not made to have a multitude of buttons or any complicated parts, it is very user-friendly. Compared to other kitchen appliances, rice cookers have a shallow learning curve, so mastering how to use a rice cooker will take less than a day.
Lastly, the average price of rice cookers is affordable. While some rice cookers from top Japanese brands like Zojirushi are priced at $100 or more, good-quality rice cookers from well-known brands such as Hamilton Beach can go for as low as $40.
Rice cookers don’t have many disadvantages because they generally perform very well at cooking rice, but there are some things to consider when looking to buy a rice cooker.
Most rice cookers only have one function: to cook rice, so if you’re looking for something that primarily offers several cooking options, then a rice cooker might not be the best choice.
Compared to the more powerful pressure cooker, a rice cooker has a longer cooking time. On average, it takes around 30-40 minutes to cook rice using a rice cooker, so if you need something that has half the cooking time, then looking into a pressure cooker might be worth your time.
Pressure Cooker Advantages And Disadvantages
The pressure cooker is one of the most versatile kitchen appliances with many functions available, especially for electric pressure cookers. It might sound like a dream to own an appliance that can cook almost anything you want, but there are still some things you need to consider before buying one.
The most attractive quality of the pressure cooker is its fast cooking time. A good-quality pressure cooker can cook a whole chicken in under 40 minutes without even needing a lot of water to do so. Requiring less water during cooking makes pressure cookers efficient and environment-friendly as well.
Another significant benefit of using a pressure cooker is that cooking in high temperatures, over the boiling point of water, ensures that the food is clean and sanitary. Because of this, pressure cookers can also double as sterilizers for other kitchen tools such as containers, bottles, etc.
Because pressure cookers are made for one-pot meals, with some brands offering models that are 10 in one, their big size with various functionality is ideal for cooking several food items at once, either separated or mixed.
Lastly, pressure cookers are ideal for cooking at high altitudes where cold weather causes food to cook slower. A pressure cooker can greatly speed up cooking times because they increase the pressure and boiling point to cook food faster.
Instant Pot pressure cookers come in a size range of 3-7 liters capacity, so it’s safe to say that most pressure cookers are pretty big, heavy, and bulky. It might be a huge turn-off for people who often move things around in their kitchen.
Since most pressure cookers have several parts, they can be challenging to clean. Water droplets from the steam being released too quickly also run the risk of burning you if you move too closely while releasing steam or damaging other nearby appliances. If pressure cookers are not adequately handled, encountering a severe problem is a strong possibility.
For pressure cooker enthusiasts, having tons of buttons with a wide variety of functions is a big plus. But, for the average consumer, especially first-time owners of pressure cookers, learning how to use one could take a long period of serious trial and error.
Electric pressure cookers are the hands-off type of kitchen appliance, so you can leave the house and come back to a perfectly cooked meal, but this is not true for stovetop models. Stovetop models require constant supervision since you need to monitor the pressure closely and manually release the steam.
Compared to rice cookers, pressure cookers are a little more expensive on average. The cheapest pressure cooker available from Instant Pot is priced at $60, and a more expensive one from Breville retails for around $250. Despite the higher price range, it still makes sense because pressure cookers offer more cooking options.
Now that we’ve tackled each cooker’s pros and cons, some people might start thinking, “why buy a rice cooker when a pressure cooker can do its job and more?”. Although pressure cookers are more versatile, they still can’t cook rice the same way rice cookers can. Furthermore, this also begs whether it’s healthy to cook rice in a pressure cooker.
Is It Healthy Cooking Rice In A Pressure Cooker?
Over the years, more people have become conscious of their health, which resulted in a higher demand for healthy food and things that can cook healthy food.
Generally, pressure cookers are great for cooking healthy recipes, especially since shorter cooking times allow for more outstanding nutrient and vitamin retention. In addition, many agree that pressure cooking creates better meals with better taste and texture.
However, the results are a little different when it comes to cooking rice. A cup of rice typically has over 260 calories, and when cooked using a pressure cooker, the rice contained more calories than rice cooked in a non-pressurized method. Because pressure cooker allows for more retention of organic compounds in food, cooking rice using one might mean higher calorie intake.
In addition, when starchy foods are pressure cooked, they can produce acrylamide, a hazardous toxin, and regular consumption of this chemical may cause health problems such as cancer, infertility, and neurological impairments.
Furthermore, most pressure cookers contain aluminum, which may seep into food when cooked in high temperatures. Complications to the brain or peripheral nervous system can also arise from aluminum poisoning.
It might not sound too good for health-conscious people who prefer cooking rice in pressure cookers. However, the long-term impacts of eating pressure-cooked rice need further research to determine if it has any significant effect on overall health or any chance of complicating existing health issues.
Rice Cookers Vs. Pressure Cookers, Which One Wins?
Undeniably, rice cookers and pressure cookers are experts in their own fields. Rice cookers are still undefeated when it comes to cooking the perfect, fluffy pot of rice. But in the versatility area, pressure cookers reign king.
If you are a cooking enthusiast who enjoys hassle-free one-pot meals, then pressure cookers are the way to go.
Still, the ultimate factors that will decide which kitchen appliance is the best addition to your household depend on three things: your needs, your determination to learn how to use and handle each one correctly, and your budget.
Getting the correct type of cooker for the right purposes can genuinely elevate your cooking experience at home.
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