Burnt Rice Is Not Good
August 16, 2005 7:34 PM   Subscribe

My rice cooker always burns my rice.

We received it as a wedding present, and while most of the rice coming out of it is good, there's always a layer of burnt rice (about half a cup) at the bottom of the pan.

The rice cooker (an Oster 4715) has only two settings, "cook" and "keep warm." We've been following the directions exactly. Many of the product reviews mention this burnt rice problem.

Can anyone help us salvage this appliance?
posted by BackwardsCity to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What's your ratio of rice to water?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:35 PM on August 16, 2005

Response by poster: I've just been using the recommended amount. For white rice, 1 1/2 cups of water for each cup of rice. For brown rice, 2 cups and 2 tbsp.

Now, it's possible that it's supposed to burn the rice at the bottom, by design, but in that case I don't understand how to get the good rice out without getting some of the bad rice mixed in.
posted by BackwardsCity at 7:41 PM on August 16, 2005

Best answer: Have you tried it with a 2:1 water:rice ratio? It seems like your water is all cooking off, or into the rice, and then the bottom of the rice is continuing to heat with no water and drying out.
posted by jessamyn at 7:52 PM on August 16, 2005

Buy a cheapo rice cooker from a shop in Chinatown. My family has always used one of those cheapo cookers and the rice has always come out perfect.
posted by gyc at 7:52 PM on August 16, 2005

Now, it's possible that it's supposed to burn the rice at the bottom, by design

I doubt it. I've eaten rice for quite a few years and have never seen burned rice on the bottom of a cooker. Dried rice that was difficult to remove, sure, but never white rice turned brown.

A couple things come to mind: 1)If the rice on top seems extremely dry, the cooker is leaking steam at too great a level and overdrying, and thus burning, your rice. 2)Exchange it

Sorry if I can't be more specific. I looked at the cooker's manual online and it doesn't show me anything out of the ordinary. Second link from the top for anyone who has better suggestions.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:55 PM on August 16, 2005

Try rinsing the rice before you put it in. Just swish it around with some water until the water is no longer cloudy, this should help some, but YMMV.
posted by orangskye at 7:57 PM on August 16, 2005

My rice cooker does the same. I believe the element temperature increases once rice is fully cooked, causing rice at bottom to burn and in turn trigger a temperature switch of some sort to switch from "cook" to "keep warm."

And I on the other hand love the burned rice. Crunchy goodness. Mmmmmmmmmmm.
posted by vaportrail at 7:59 PM on August 16, 2005

Is it burnt, or gently browned? Because the browned rice is delicious. My husband's rice cooker (Tefal) does that, but we like it.
posted by jb at 8:01 PM on August 16, 2005

Wow, my rice cooker (Zojirushi, I think) has never once burned the rice, even when I let it sit in there on the KEEP WARM setting forever. Mine cooks it, then automatically knows when it's time to flip the switch to KEEP WARM. Not sure if they all work that way or what.
posted by GaelFC at 8:10 PM on August 16, 2005

How long are you leaving it on "keep warm"? If you leave it long enough eventually it will crisp up.
posted by flummox at 8:11 PM on August 16, 2005

Response by poster: Today I grabbed it immediately after it clicked over to "Keep Warm", and the rice on the bottom was already burnt.
posted by BackwardsCity at 8:16 PM on August 16, 2005

Make sure you're following the directions on the rice and not the directions for the ricemaker, and use actual measuring devices instead of the one included in your ricemaker's box (unless, it's actually acurate). I had this same problem and after sifting through some amazon reviews, found this to be a nearly universal remedy. Good luck.
posted by jaysus chris at 8:27 PM on August 16, 2005

Best answer: 2 parts water to one part rice is the usual ratio. A sligltly smaller ration is sometimes appropriate depending on the kind of rice.
posted by singingfish at 8:29 PM on August 16, 2005

The problem is this: most rice cookers suck.

I've owned several bad ones. They make the heating element a little too powerful because stupid Americans don't like to wait for their rice to cook. This results in burned rice. There is no real solution. I've tried quite a few things, you'll always burn at least a little rice with these dumb rice cookers - it's by design. Th element stays on high until ALL the water is gone and the temperature starts shooting up - the rice is burning - and then the element goes down to low power, at which point the rice is burned. (If you micromanage the cooker, take the rice out before it actually registers as done, you can do okay - but you have to watch it closely, and know what done rice looks like.)

The longterm solution is to purchase a Zojirushi "neuro fuzzy logic" rice cooker. They are expensive. I have cooked hundreds of cups of rice in mine and never had a single kernel of rice burned. Not one. They make perfect rice. If you have not had perfect rice, you will be impressed by the difference. The Zojirushi will keep rice warm and perfect for at least 12 hours without burning it at all, which is way beyond the capability of a cheapie rice cooker. I am frankly not entirely sure how it works. It knows to cook large amounts of rice for longer amounts of time, and smaller amounts of rice for shorter amounts of time, without you telling it anything, and is highly configurable - you can ask for harder or softer rice, as you prefer, and you'll get it. I think a very sensitive temperature sensor is involved, and perhaps some magic.

Zojirushi:rice cooker::Hole Hawg:handheld drill.
posted by jellicle at 9:01 PM on August 16, 2005

I second the recommendation for a "fuzzy logic" rice cooker. They are truly magic and smarter than mere humans. I have A Sanyo model that's a bit cheaper than the Zojirushi, and it makes perfect rice every time. The downside is that it's slower (45 minutes for white rice, 90 or so for brown) but I just set it an hour early and forget about it.
posted by mmoncur at 9:23 PM on August 16, 2005

I third the suggestion of a Zojirushi.

I have the Micom Programmable 3 cup model. Perfect rice every time, and the nonstick container makes it easy to scoop out and clean. It's a little bit smaller and cheaper than the neuro fuzzy logic models, but it's definitely a lot better than the el cheapo models that burn the rice. Definitely worth the money IMHO, and I use it at least once a week. As mmoncur said, it does take longer to cook the rice, but you can set it up on a timer to cook automatically, and the rice is flawless.

I've found that in the models that burn rice that increasing the water sometimes works, and sometimes makes burnt goop - which is even more foul than burnt rice. I'd just either return or chuck the defective model, and invest in a high quality rice cooker that'll last for years.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:32 PM on August 16, 2005

Hmm. I bought a $25.00 rice cooker, and it works very nicely. On a couple of occasions it's had slight browning, but unfortunately (because the brown bits are delicious) it won't repeat.

I think adding more water could make it work properly.
posted by tomble at 9:35 PM on August 16, 2005

Definitely invest in a high-end Zojirushi if you eat rice frequently (3+ times a week). That's what I did, and it's well worth it. I find that I do have to add slightly more water than indicated, but it's never even come close to burning rice, even though I sometimes leave it in "warming" mode for a whole day.
posted by clevershark at 9:40 PM on August 16, 2005

I've written a tome on how to cook perfect steamed rice (shameless self-link) if you don't want to use a rice cooker.

If you're getting browned rice at the bottom, it means all the water in your pan has gone, and the rice is getting toasted instead. Try increasing the amount of water you're using. If that's not the case, your rice cooker is using too much heat for cooking the rice (possibly a product defect.)
posted by madman at 11:22 PM on August 16, 2005

I'm not going to recommend that you do this (for liabilty reasons), but a friend of mine had great success fixing this same problem by inverting a small plate at the bottom of the in the cooking container and then just going about business as usual. I think the plate was almost the same diameter as the cooker, so it was a snug fit.
posted by NYCnosh at 11:48 PM on August 16, 2005

it's most likely the type of rice you are using.

short grain rice is dense and starchy and can absorb a lot of water, so you get proportions like 2.5 cups water to 1 cup rice. arborio which is used in risotto is an example of a short grain rice. when cooked it's creamy.

medium grain rice is less starchy than short. it's this rice that cooks with the classic 2:1 water to rice ratio. it's sticky and clumps when cooked. this is the most commonly purchased rice.

long grain rice is the least starchy and needs less water to cook. optimally cooked, it separates into individual grains. it takes about 1.5 cups water to each cup of rice. basmati and jasmine rice are examples.

unless the directions for your appliance say which type of rice is best, i'd use the directions on the package as the baseline and add more or less water depending on the outcome.

finally, if your cooker still burns the rice after investigating the water to rice proportions, i'd figure the keep warm temp is too high and turn it off after a certain point. the rice will continue to absorb the water. it holds heat well and it should stay reasonably warm in the turned off cooker.
posted by elle.jeezy at 5:20 AM on August 17, 2005

I have an Oster cooker, too, and it always leaves a thin layer of burnt rice on the bottom as well. I've played with the water/rice ratio as well as different types of rice. Methinks this is an Oster thing.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:54 AM on August 17, 2005

Madman's method is the way to go -- forget the rice cooker (a "unitasker", as Alton Brown calls such items) and do it on the stovetop using the method madman outlines.
posted by briank at 8:44 AM on August 17, 2005

A 'unitasker' meaning, it can only do one thing? The electric can opener and pencil sharpener are the worst violators, in my book (as they generally do a worse job than their manual counterparts). But it's not an accurate description of a rice cooker -- Roger Ebert says he uses his to make stews, soup and pasta. But back to the burnt rice -- haven't I heard that to some Japanese, this is the good part? They call it okoge (which is also a movie I haven 't seen).
posted by Rash at 9:21 AM on August 17, 2005

Get a plastic microwave rice cooker from Chinatown (less than $10, sometimes less than $5).

Comes with a little scoop:
2 rice, 4 water, 15 minutes at 750 Watts = perfect fluffy rice.

Can be used for potatoes, rice and pasta.
posted by Crosius at 9:42 AM on August 17, 2005

The way that rice cookers work is that the heating element comes on when you turn it on, and when the contents gets above 212 F (the temperature of boiling water) the heat turns off. So, fiddling with the amount of water or type of rice won't change anything, except the length of time that the heating element is lit. Maybe the thermosensor is set a little high (a manufacturing defect). Also, if you live sufficiently above sea level where water boils at a lower temperature, that could cause your problem.
posted by Daddio at 11:53 AM on August 17, 2005

I was going to pimp Zojirushi's "neuro fuzzy" cookers, because I like "neuro fuzzy," but everyone already beat me to it.

"Neuro fuzzy." Just sayin'.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:35 PM on August 17, 2005

Best answer: Two to one, baby. That's the only way it works. My Cajun girlfriend's parents gave me a hard time about it, but they were right. Anything less and you get crunchy rice.
posted by atchafalaya at 3:03 PM on August 17, 2005

It's broken!
posted by milkwood at 5:09 PM on August 17, 2005

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