The main idea of a multicooker is that you select a recipe, put ingredients inside the multicooker, set the corresponding program and the multicooker cooks according to the program. After starting the program a typical multicooker does not require user intervention.
In addition to cooking programs, a multicooker has functions like KEEP WARM, REHEAT, and TIME DELAY.
A multicooker is the successor to rice cookers. The first rice cooker model first appeared in Japan in 1950. It was initially quite primitive by today’s standards, but over time they became more advanced and included more programs and functions so the cookers now make not only rice, but also other types of grains and soups. This paved the way to reprogram these devices to have other functions such as roasting, stewing, baking, etc.
In the meantime, the European market had been producing various kitchen appliances with more specific purposes: electric kettles, pressure cookers, bread makers, steamers, yogurt makers, etc. It was only a matter of time before these devices were combined into one which is based on the rice cooker’s microprocessor, and the multicooker was born. Multicookers are designed to make dozens of different dishes characteristic of European and American cuisine.
A multicooker may have the following functions:
- KEEP WARM can be automatically activated after some of the programs end and can maintain a hot meal for several hours. The temperature is usually 60 °C or higher to prevent harmful bacteria from developing.
- REHEAT warms-up a cold meal up to 50-60 °C.
- 3D HEAT guarantees optimal temperature for the even heat distribution, that helps preserve the vitamins and minerals in the food.
- TIME DELAY controls the time ingredients begin cooking. This function is only applicable to programs which do not require user intervention throughout the process and in which ingredients may stay at room temperature for a few hours.
Overview of Programs
- COOK. Comes to a boiling point and maintains it for a predetermined amount of time. This program is ideal for making soup, broth, oatmeal with milk, rice, and grains.
- PASTA. Heats to a boiling point and pauses when it’s time to put in the ingredients. After the ingredients are in, it comes to a boil again and maintains the temperature for a pre-determined amount of time. The program can be used for cooking pasta, dumplings, and eggs, sausages, and other products which need boiling water.
- STEW. Comes to a boiling point and then continues at a slightly lower temperature. This program can make steamed vegetables, meat, and seafood.
- FRY. This program can be used to fry meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, and seafood. Fry with an open or closed lid.
- BAKE. Biscuits, casseroles, cake, and pastries.
- RICE/GRAIN. Heats to a boil and maintains the boil until the water is gone (via evaporation or absorption in the ingredients). Use this program to cook boiled rice, buckwheat, peas, beans, and coarse grains.
- PILAF. A combination of the RICE and BAKE programs which starts with a full boil and then the temperature rises for 5–10 minutes.
- STEAM. Steam vegetables, meat, dumplings, and baby food.
- SOUP. Makes soup, broth, and various drinks.
- YOGURT. Makes homemade yogurt and proofs dough.
May be included:
- Steam basket
- Deep fry basket
- Spoons/paddles for mixing or extracting the contents
- Measuring cup for specific ingredient measurements
|Features and Benefits||Multicooker||Non-computerized Rice Cooker||Computerized Rice Cooker||Non-Programmable Slow Cooker||Programmable Slow Cooker|
|Bowl||The bowl is made of organic clay||No, aluminum with nonstick coating||No, aluminum with nonstick coating||No, ceramic coating with glazes||No, ceramic coating with glazes|
|3D heat||YES, optional||NO||NO||NO||NO|
|TIME DELAY Function||YES 5 minutes to 20 hours||NO||YES||NO||NO|
|Control Panel Display||YES. Sensored button control, LCD, digital clock||Optional||Optional||Optional||Optional|
|Programmable Timer||YES. 5 minutes to 20 hours||NO||Optional||Optional||Optional|
A multicooker consists of the following parts:
- Housing. Typically plastic, stainless steel or a combination of both. The body is mounted or attached to other parts of the machine. It functions as a thermal insulator.
- Inner bowl. In most modern designs, the bowl is removable and has a non-stick coating (teflon, ceramic, etc.). The non-stick coating is important for multicookers to operate properly. Non-stick coating keeps food from burning and sticking to the bottom and walls of the bowl which prevents disruption of heat or leads to uneven heating. It is unlike conventional glassware which must be continuously stirred.
- Lid. This seals the multicooker and prevents the contents from splashing out.
- Heating element. Mounted in the housing, it cooks the food. Temperatures can reach 40-180 °C which ensures any method of cooking such as keeping food warm to baking and frying.
- Temperature sensor. This is usually located in the center of the housing's bottom and presses against the bottom of the pan to ensure close contact. The control panel provides information about the temperature of the bowl’s contents.
- Pressure sensor. This may be installed if the multicooker supports pressure cooking.
- Control panel. Part of the housing, this consists of a microprocessor with programs which are displayed showing the process and programs. It also includes several buttons to control the process.
- Water trap. Typically a small container or an area around multicooker's bowl to collect condensation appearing on the lid.
Advantages and disadvantages
Vendors claim that a multicooker is
- Easy to clean
- Safe to use and has an advanced security system
- Easy to operate
However, some instruction manuals state that multicookers are not intended to be used by children, "people without the required knowledge or experience, or with limited physical, sensor, or intellectual capabilities, unless under supervision of people responsible for the safety" ("limited X capabilities" can mean "X disability"). Manuals for multicookers with other brands can be found on the Web, that express it shorter, like: "the appliance is not to be used by the disabled unless" "under direct observation and control", or "given clear and understandable instructions by the people responsible for their safety"
- A PDF document that claims to be an instruction manual for a Polaris multicooker (Russian), it says: "Children and the disabled can use the appliance only under direct observation and control."
- A PDF document that claims to be an instruction manual for a Smile multicooker (Russian)
- A PDF document that claims to be an instruction manual for a Vitesse multicooker (Russian)