A little _too_ sticky
July 28, 2017 7:30 PM   Subscribe

So I inherited a rice cooker that has to be at least 30 years old. It has a plain aluminum cooking pot. I just did my first batch of rice in the cooker and a single layer of rice stuck to the pot and hardened/scorched. My question is: Is this normal for an aluminum pot? Do I need to spray the pot with some cooking spray or something? Or is the cooker defective and heating too high/long? Some other process error?

If it matters 1 cup white rice, 1 3/4 cup water, dash of garlic powder, 1-2 tsp margarine was in the pot which is my normal recipe in my cooker at home (I've got this one at work).
posted by Mitheral to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Use more water?
posted by The Toad at 7:42 PM on July 28, 2017

I had a non-coated aluminum rice cooker pot once. The bottom layer of rice scorched on every single time and was a bitch and a half to clean out. I drop-kicked it into the gutter and replaced it with non-stick. I would NEVER have a rice cooker that wasn't non-stick again. I hated that thing.

So, uh... yeah, it's normal. Spraying didn't help.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:49 PM on July 28, 2017 [9 favorites]

Does it have any branding or visible badges? Does the pot itself have any marks? A lot of rice cookers that old, and even recent ones, use the 'Ge' (or 'Gō') as a unit. So if there's a line for 2, 3, 4, etc, those well be the amount of water for for 2 ge of rice, not 2 cups. If it has markings for water, I'd try using those assuming rice is measured in ge.

If all else fails, more water and fat per rice until it doesn't stick, then reduce. Rice cookers do vary a bit, and I suspect they did even more 30 years ago, so my general advice is to hone in on it with some notes and practice, shouldn't take more than a few rounds.

And no, bad sticking should not be an intrinsic to aluminum pot rice cookers, in my experience, no more than rice sticking in a stainless steel pot is mandatory.
posted by SaltySalticid at 7:54 PM on July 28, 2017

Do you keep the lid on for at least 10 minutes after it switches off? It's needed to keep the steam inside to soften the rice on the bottom.
posted by flimflam at 8:04 PM on July 28, 2017

Man, it was kind of standard to get the crust bottom on old cookers from that time. The one I grew up was a National so ymmv. But really, get a new cooker, old aluminum pans lose layers under scrub wash conditions.
posted by jadepearl at 8:05 PM on July 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

My rice cooker is newer than yours. It isn't aluminum but something non-stick. Still, rice can get crisp and crusty at the bottom (but not scorched). I think it's just how rice cookers work. The problem seems worse when I only make a little rice. When I make the whole pot, it's not an issue. Also for just a cup of rice, brown rice comes out better than white.

So I recommend trying to make a big pot of rice and seeing what happens. (Refrigerate and make fried rice out the extra rice.) If even with a big pot of rice the rice is scorched at the bottom, your rice cooker is probably crap.
posted by Leontine at 8:06 PM on July 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

My old cheap rice cooker would sort of do that, toasting the bottom but not full-on burning it. And it would stick to the pan.

My newer, much nicer rice cooker doesn't do that at all, and honestly I kind of miss the toasted rice layer, though I don't miss the sticking. As discussed in this article, some people see it as a feature and others not so much.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:13 PM on July 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

2 parts water to one part rice was the norm back then. Try that.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 8:26 PM on July 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Our non-stick rice cooker gets scorched rice on the bottom if we leave it plugged in and still on warming mode after the rice is ready. When we unplug once it's done, there's less of a problem.
posted by sleeping bear at 8:38 PM on July 28, 2017

I had a large family-size rice cooker that would get all crunchy if I was only making a cup of rice. I use a 1:1 ratio and the cooked rice barely covered the bottom. Once I switched it out for a smaller capacity cooker, it was fine.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:49 PM on July 28, 2017

Not normal -- it was an annoying issue in my Instant Pot, but it never ever happened with my proper rice cooker. Buy a quality fuzzy logic rice cooker like a Zojirushi (not a thirty-year-old one, ffs!), and you'll never have this problem again.
posted by halogen at 8:53 PM on July 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

Old "push button cook rice" cookers basically work by noticing the temperature change when all the water has been absorbed into the rice or driven off as steam. When there's some left the temperature is around 212F, once the water is gone it rises sharply and that's the signal to turn off or keep warm. Whether it does this by a dedicated temperature sensor, or just measures the resistance/power going through the heating element (which is quite dependent on the elements temperature) I'm not sure. But after 30 years it's highly likely the sensor or coil has aged and is just not cutting off soon enough (depending on how crunchy you like your rice).

I'd get a roll of the heavy duty teflon coated aluminum foil and cut out a circle that fit into the bottom of the pot and maybe up the side just a little bit. It should at least keep the rice from sticking and with a bit of care is really easy to clean off and re-use.
posted by zengargoyle at 9:15 PM on July 28, 2017

In my family, my kids used to fight for the crusty rice on the bottom. I think it is standard on a non-stick pot.
posted by AugustWest at 11:22 PM on July 28, 2017 [3 favorites]

You have to prove aluminium pans, and if they're washed the wrong way it undoes the proving. Start with it clean, thin layer of oil, heat up till it smokes, cool and wipe off. You might need to repeat. If you use detergent to clean them it strips the proving and then they will stick like anything; but you can re-do the proving any time.

That's my theory, anyway.
posted by Segundus at 2:05 AM on July 29, 2017

I don't know what a rice cooker looks like, or if the process is different than cooking rice in a regular pot, but I've always used two parts of water for every part of rice.

Also, something that helps it not sticking (to the pot or to itself), is putting some oil in the pot first, then adding the rice, stirring it for about ... 15 seconds? and then adding the water.
posted by Promethea at 3:53 AM on July 29, 2017

My cheapie non-stick rice cooker does this. The manual that came with it explains that many people love this chewy rice from the bottom, but we don't. My rice cooker, being cheap also gives an audible "clunk" when it switches from HEAT to KEEP WARM. Unless I am using the rice cooker to cook something other than rice I always keep an ear out and the instant I hear this noise I pivot and slide on oven mitts and lift the rice cooker pot up and out of the heating unit and place it on a trivet. Then I unplug it and switch it off. I then serve the rice as soon as I can, so I try to have whatever is going to be served with the rice ready first. Likely the trivet is already surrounded by a row of bowls to dish out into. This works very well for me.

I also like my rice mushy and sticky, and tend to add more water than called for.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:49 AM on July 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

If you are using the measure level for water on the inside of the pot remember that the cup measure in Asia is not the same as an American cup measure. Both the rice and water have to be measured in the same units.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:52 AM on July 29, 2017

A thin, toasty crust of rice on the bottom is pretty normal, and many people like it as a treat. It's just part of the process.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:15 AM on July 29, 2017

That is a Persian delicacy that I forget the name of! I would use nonstick spray only to see if I could get the crunchy part off in one piece to eat it.
posted by 8603 at 7:44 AM on July 29, 2017

The crust is called Tahdig and is indeed one of the best bits! My Iranian uncle bought us a Persian rice cooker a few years back with a dial that allows you to set how crispy you want it - like this example here.

Not sure this is what is happening with the OP's cooker though!
posted by barnsoir at 11:12 AM on July 29, 2017

In my experience, it's normal for some rice to stick to the pot. The crust is called guoba (鍋巴) in Chinese, and is eaten as a snack or incorporated into other dishes.
posted by bradf at 12:16 PM on July 29, 2017

I have a cheap newish rice cooker and it does this too. It's usually slightly golden on the bottom and crusty if leave it. I prevent it by immediately unplugging the cooker when it's done and taking the insert out so it's not near the heating element. Then the rice is all cooked pretty evenly.
posted by Bistyfrass at 4:31 PM on July 29, 2017

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