My wife and I love our Vitaclay rice cooker. When our old rice cooker quit working, we needed a replacement in a hurry - my wife is from China and we eat rice with almost every meal. We found lots of choices, but I had one particular requirement - whatever we bought could not have a plastic or aluminum cooking pot; I feel plastic and aluminum can leach trace amounts of metal or chemicals into the food, affecting the flavor and causing potential long term health problems.
So our choices were either clay or stainless steel. We couldn't find an affordable one with a steel bowl, so we decided to try the Vitaclay 6 cup model with a clay pot. I didn't know what to expect for the price, but so far we've been really happy with it. I especially like the fact it has a setting specifically for brown rice, which is a lot healthier than white rice. It cooks very evenly and we never have a problem with food sticking to the bottom of the pot like we did with our old aluminum cooker, even when we forget about it and it stays in "keep warm" mode for a couple hours. We've been using ours every day for almost 10 years and it still looks and works like new.
The Vitaclay has pre-programmed settings for stew and soup, and can also be used as a slow cooker, but we use ours mostly for just cooking rice and other grains (we prefer our Instant Pot for slow cooker use). For cooking rice though, nothing beats the Vitaclay, at least in my opinion. After using a clay pot, I'll never go back to plastic or aluminum. If the 6 cup version is too small for your family there is also a Vitaclay 8 cup model available.
We've owned our Vitaclay rice cooker for going on 10 years now, and it still works great. The only problem we had was one time we dropped the clay cooking pot and it broke, but we were able to order a replacement pot instead of having to buy a whole new rice cooker. Other than that, it has been cooking perfect rice for us since 2013.
A rice cooker is for more than just cooking rice - it's also great for cooking other grains like barley, oats, quinoa, and more. It can even be used to make soups and stews easier than you could cook them on the stove. The Vitaclay web site has dozens of free recipes you can cook in your rice cooker. My favorite is the Swedish Meatball Mushroom Soup. Even if your rice cooker isn't a Vitaclay, these recipes are worth checking out. Spend a little time perusing their recipe section, and I think you'll be surprised at the number and variety of foods you can cook in a rice cooker.
You might be wondering - why bother with a rice cooker? Can't you just cook rice on the stove? Of course you can, but using a rice cooker is so much easier and, yes, better.
First of all, rice cookers have preset (or preprogrammed) cooking times and temperatures, so you never have to worry about over cooking the rice. Even better, you never have to worry about forgetting the rice on the stove and having scorched rice stuck to the bottom of your pan.
Second, the rice cooker steams your rice gently instead of boiling it, so the rice comes out fluffier. It's really hard to accidentally end up with "sticky rice" if you're cooking with a good quality rice cooker.
Third, most rice cookers will go into a "keep warm" mode once the rice is finished cooking. This is nice if you're not going to eat the rice immediately when it's done cooking.
Finally is the convenience factor. If you're cooking rice on the stove, you have to constantly monitor it so it doesn't get stop to the bottom of the pot while it's cooking, doesn't burn to the bottom of the pot when it's done cooking, and then you'll have to reheat it when it's time to eat. With the rice cooker, you just put the rice in, add the right amount of water, and push the start button. It's really that easy. If you like eating rice or other cooked grains and you're currently cooking on the stove, try a rice cooker instead. You might just be amazed.
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