The Great Pumpkin

Oh, Great Pumpkin, will you come to my pumpkin patch? Maybe we’ll have better luck than Linus did, if we put our faith in more pumpkin treats for National Pumpkin Month this October. This Pumpkin Mac & Cheese looks delicious, right? It’s kinda cheating because bacon makes anything taste good, but the creaminess of the pumpkin was a delightful surprise.

I took my Zojirushi Breadmaker and baked a Pumpkin Bread Loaf recipe I found online, just to see how easy it could be. Really, the only worry I had was hoping the 2lb. recipe translated well enough for my 1lb. breadmaker, but it came out pretty good. Moist, nutty and fragrant.

I love the ingredient dispenser too. It really helps when you don’t have to stop the process to mix in the dry ingredients. I know a lot of breadmaker owners use theirs to just knead and rise the dough, then actually bake in their own oven. I’ve done this as well, but it’s so gratifying to have the machine do the work from beginning to end. I used the dispenser to sprinkle the walnuts for this recipe.

Golden orange pumpkin bread. Don’t forget to use the “CAKE” setting, or whatever your menu says for non-yeast bread. The only time I opened the lid was to make sure I scraped some of the dough off the sides after the knead cycle

I feel breadmakers are great at baking bread; which is what they’re supposed to do. There’s a cake setting for cakey breads, but it doesn’t compare to baking a cake in an oven. As long as you know what to expect out of your breadmaker, you’ll never be disappointed.

Who woulda thought Pumpkin Mac & Cheese could be something? When I thought about what pumpkin things I could make, it always seemed like they were all sweet desserts. This Mac & Cheese is mostly prepared in an open skillet or cast iron pan until the pumpkin puree, cheese and cooked pasta is blended and heated through, but the final touch is to brown it in an oven, like any casserole dish. This is my Zojirushi Toaster Oven, big enough for our dinner.

This turned out to be a surprisingly intense combination of the smoky bacon and the velvety creaminess of the Gouda cheese and pumpkin. C’mon, I know you can smell it from there!

Aaand what would Pumpkin Month be without Pumpkin Cookies. My favorite kind of cookies are snickerdoodles. These are snickerdoodles jazzed up with pumpkin, pumpkin spice and espresso! They’re called Pumpkin Spice Latte Sugar Cookies—soft, chewy and sugary.

The espresso is blended into the dough as well as rolled onto it, so you get that hint of coffee as soon as you bite into it. You don’t need the drink if you can get it in a cookie!

I was 1 day old when I found out there existed a museum for the great cartoonist Charles M. Schulz in Santa Rosa, California. I looked it up and it looks pretty grand—with a theater, courtyard and exhibit areas devoted to his work. He was, of course, the creator of probably the most popular comic strip of all time, Peanuts; and with it, famous characters like Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the never seen Great Pumpkin. Poor Linus would faithfully wait for The Great Pumpkin every Halloween at his pumpkin patch, but he never came. We should all be so determined!

I’d love to go check out the Charles M. Schulz Museum. I do think it might make me love Snoopy and the gang even more. 
 
 

Products used in this post: Micom Toaster Oven ET-ZLC30Home Bakery Maestro® Breadmaker BB-SSC10

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2022

Tips on How to Store Rice (Before and After Cooking)

Today, we will be diving into how to properly store rice so that it can stay as fresh as possible, for as long as possible. There are several ways to do this, for both uncooked and cooked rice, to keep your rice moist, delicious, and safe to eat for later consumption. Plus, with proper rice storage, you can even save precious money and time by being able to reheat your rice whenever you need it!

How to Store Uncooked Rice

Did you know that rice can deteriorate, even when uncooked? When rice comes into contact with moisture (its worst enemy), heat, dust, or any other contaminants, it will, in fact, go bad. Moisture can also introduce bacteria, which of course, can cause serious issues. So, how do you make sure that your uncooked rice stays as fresh as possible?

  • Buy your rice in small quantities. The less rice you have on hand, the less likely it will be for you to have extra uncooked rice on hand.
  • If you do have extra rice on hand, no need to worry! Choose an airtight container that is made from plastic, glass, or metal. You can even use plastic bags – just make sure to press the air out of the bag before sealing.
  • Extend the life of your raw rice by refrigerating or freezing it. Hot temperatures can damage your rice grains, and high levels of humidity can introduce moisture. Even if you store your rice in a cool and dark place, high temps in the summer can unknowingly damage your rice. So, when in doubt, refrigerate!

Pro tip: The shelf life of raw rice differs for brown rice. White rice tends to have a longer shelf life, up to 2 years, while brown rice still contains oils that deduct the shelf life to about 6-12 months. One way to know that your brown rice has gone bad is by checking for an unpleasant, almost rancid, smell.

How to Store Cooked RiceSome of you might believe that you can “store” your cooked rice in your rice cooker, as long as it is in “keep warm” mode. This is both true and untrue. We do not recommend that you store your rice in your rice cooker for longer than 12 hours, or 24 hours if your Zojirushi rice cooker has the “Extended Keep Warm” feature. We’ve heard of some people storing rice in their rice cooker for days at a time. Don’t do that! Not only will the flavor of the rice become less pleasant, but moisture will eventually evaporate, leaving you with dry, hard rice. We want you to always be able to enjoy delicious rice, and recommend the following:

  • Refrigerate or freeze your leftover rice. Yes, the same trick for storing dry rice applies to cooked rice too! Put your cooked rice in a storage container or wrap tightly in plastic wrap. The USDA recommends cooling rice to 70°F within two hours, then from 70°F to 40°F within the next four hours, and to store rice at 41°F or below.
  • Use frozen rice within 6 months. Refrigerated rice should be enjoyed within 5 days. You can use your microwave to reheat rice and dress up your leftover rice in a fried rice dish or salad. Just remember, if you plan to reheat rice, choose a microwave-safe rice storage container to store it in.

Pro tip: Add a tiny bit of water to your leftover rice to reintroduce some moisture and to prevent your rice from drying out when reheating.

Delicious Leftover Rice Recipes

Some recipes are in fact tastier when you use leftover rice, partly because leftover rice tends to be a little drier, and easier to toss in a pan with other ingredients. In fact, did you know that fried rice dishes are often made with leftover rice? Here are some rice dish recipes you can make the next time you find yourself with some leftover rice on hand:

Did you learn anything new about how to store rice today? How do you plan on using your leftover rice? Make sure to share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

Rice Cookers Comparison: Choosing the Best Rice Cooker For You

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At Zojirushi, we're a little obsessed with rice, and the month of September is our favorite month as we celebrate National Rice Month.

We've been making rice cookers for close to half a century and test thousands of pounds of rice every year to ensure the best performing rice cookers for every household.

With a whopping 19 different models for purchase today, you may be wondering what the difference is between all of our rice cookers, and how to choose the right rice cooker for you and your family. Not to worry, because today we will be diving into certain features and specifications to help you understand each model better. Whether you’re new to rice, or a seasoned pro, we will help you choose the best rice cooker so that you can enjoy a perfect batch of rice every time!

Let's dive in and meet the lineup.

<strong>Zojirushi Rice Cooker Types</strong>

The four main Zojirushi rice cooker types are as follows, from most simple to most advanced:

<u>CONVENTIONAL</u>

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Zojirushi's Conventional electric rice cooker is ideal for beginners who want to make perfect rice at home. It’s our recommended choice for those who want a simple, reliable, and easy-to-use rice cooker with just one switch. Most models (all except NHS-06) feature an automatic keep warm, and some models (<span style="color: #0000ff;"><a style="color: #0000ff;" href="https://www.zojirushi.com/app/product/nhs" target="_blank" rel="noopener">NHS-10/18</a></span>) come with a handy steaming basket that allows steaming of proteins and vegetables while cooking rice below. Soaking and steaming time before and after cooking rice is highly recommended for perfect results. Browse our selection of conventional rice cookers <span style="color: #0000ff;"><a style="color: #0000ff;" href="https://shop.zojirushi.com/collections/rice-cookers-conventional" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a></span>.

<u>MICOM</u>

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With a microcomputer chip, the “MICOM” rice cooker models are technologically advanced than the conventional models and come with menu settings for cooking different types of rice and grains. Some models can even “think” to adjust cooking times and temperatures according to the thermal sensor’s calculations. And, unlike the conventional models, soaking and steaming time before and after cooking rice is automatically programmed, so once you press start, it does everything on its own until the rice is ready to eat. This is our largest category of rice cookers, clocking in at 12 models. The main considerations when choosing which Micom rice cooker you’d like to purchase is by thinking about the capacity, preferred aesthetic, and available menu settings and features. More below on capacity, features, and aesthetics.

Browse our selection of MICOM rice cookers <span style="color: #0000ff;"><a style="color: #0000ff;" href="https://shop.zojirushi.com/collections/rice-cookers-micom" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a></span>.

<u>INDUCTION HEATING (IH) + MICOM</u>

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The IH rice cooker utilizes induction heating technology to make rice that is overall more delicious. How? Without a heating plate that takes time to heat and then to cool down (think an electric stove), IH is a more responsive heating method, getting the cooking pan hot quickly and cooling down faster, making temperature adjustments during cooking more precise. Note that all IH models are also MICOM models, just with an additional heating technology feature.

Browse our selection of IH + MICOM rice cookers <span style="color: #0000ff;"><a style="color: #0000ff;" href="https://shop.zojirushi.com/collections/rice-cookers-ih" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a>.</span>

<u>PRESSURE + IH + MICOM</u>

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The PRESSURE + IH + MICOM is our most advanced line of rice cookers yet. With the power of Micom, IH, and Pressure cooking all in one, these rice cookers combine automatic pressure, high heat, artificial intelligence (yes, you heard that right!), IH technology, and a more refined selection of menu settings to get perfect results over and over.

The big differentiator here is the application of pressure (similar to pressure cooking) at various stages during cooking. The pressure will help turn beta starch into alpha starch, making rice softer, more delicious, and easier to digest.

Browse our selection of PRESSURE + IH + MICOM rice cookers <span style="color: #0000ff;"><a style="color: #0000ff;" href="https://shop.zojirushi.com/collections/rice-cookers-pressure-ih" target="_blank" rel="noopener">here</a></span>.

<strong>Further Rice Cooker Considerations</strong>
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After choosing the rice cooker with the capabilities you’re looking for, it’s time to consider capacity, features, and colors.

<u>CAPACITY</u>

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If you are living in a smaller household, a 3-cup rice cooker may be ideal. These rice cookers can even cook as little as 0.5 cup of uncooked rice, which will yield 1.25 cups of cooked rice, a perfect portion for a single meal.

<span style="font-weight: 300;">For medium to large households, we recommend buying a 5- to 6-cup capacity rice cooker. For larger households who expect to eat rice often or with every meal, we suggest a 10-cup capacity rice cooker.</span>

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Note that the rice cooker “cup” capacities are based on the provided rice measuring cup, which is roughly 3/4 of a US standard measuring cup, and the max amount is for cooking short or medium grain white rice. Other grains such as brown rice require more water and expand more during cooking, making the max cooking capacity smaller.<img class="size-full alignnone" style="color: #333333; font-style: normal; font-weight: 300;" src="https://www.zojirushi.com/assets/img/page/ricecooker_function_1.jpg" width="480" height="480" />

<u>FEATURES</u>

Next, let’s look at rice cooker features. Here are some of the features our customers find useful.

<u>Delay Timer
</u>Allows you to set the completion time in advance, so the rice cooker can be set up in the morning for fresh rice at dinner or set up at night for oatmeal in the morning.
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</u>Allows the rice cooker to double as a steamer. Most can steam while cooking rice below.

<u>Extended Keep Warm
</u>When keeping rice warm for an extended period of time, use extended keep warm to keep rice warm at a lower temperature. This helps prevent the rice from becoming dry. “Reheat” the rice when it’s time to eat!

<u>COLOR</u>

Aesthetics is always important, and that’s why our rice cookers come in various styles and colors. All stainless steel models have a clear coating to minimize stains and fingerprints. Black designs are streamlined and sleek. White is always popular, and we continue to offer the floral patterns for those who prefer that nostalgic look.

To find out which models come in the capacities, features and colors important to you, visit <span style="color: #0000ff;"><a style="color: #0000ff;" href="https://www.zojirushi.com/app/category/rice-cookers" target="_blank" rel="noopener">this page</a></span> and use the filter at the upper left corner.

Now that you’ve met all of our Zojirushi rice cookers, which one are you most excited to add to your kitchen? Did you learn anything new about rice cooking technology? Once you purchase your Zojirushi rice cooker, be sure to check out<span style="color: #0000ff;"><a style="color: #0000ff;" href="https://www.zojirushi.com/app/recipe/rice-cookers" target="_blank" rel="noopener"> our website</a></span> for a huge selection of rice recipes and rice cooker recipes. Share your thoughts, comments, and questions with us on <span style="color: #0000ff;"><a style="color: #0000ff;" href="https://twitter.com/ZojirushiUSA" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Twitter</a></span>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/zojirushiusa/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="color: #0000ff;">Facebook</span></a>, or <a href="https://www.instagram.com/zojirushiamerica/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="color: #0000ff;">Instagram</span></a>! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

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Bert-san’s Take–Fresh Brew French Press

Happy National Coffee Day, coming up on September 29th. But did you know there’s also an International Coffee Day that happens on October 1st? That one, launched in Italy by the International Coffee Organization just 7 years ago, not only celebrates and promotes coffee, it’s meant to raise awareness for the plight of the coffee growers worldwide. OK, I like that cause—it’s noble and not just commercial. It seems like both “holidays” are recognized depending on which country you’re from, which just goes to show, for coffee lovers like me, every day is Coffee Day.

This month I took the new French Press coffee maker from Zojirushi for a spin. It’s a really sleek looking, well-made coffee maker of brightly polished stainless steel that incorporates Zojirushi’s famous vacuum insulated technology. 

To be as objective as possible, I used the same coffee I usually drink, a medium blend that I had coarse ground for the French press brewing style. I used my water boiler set at 208°F (I’m telling you, it’s super convenient to have one of these around), and stirred the grounds like the instructions say. 

Speaking of instructions, I think Zojirushi could have been a little less detailed with theirs. Can you believe the other side is also full of instructions? It was necessary though, to learn how to take it apart to clean it. If there’s anything I love about Zojirushi products, it’s the way they’re designed to disassemble so you can clean it. I’m serious—I love that you can keep it thoroughly sanitized.

After brewing for a few minutes, it was time to plunge down slowly (the instructions say to take 10 to 12 seconds), and pour. Normally, I’m not a fan of the French press way of brewing. I prefer the pourover, but I get why the majority coffee fans in the U.S. like this brewing method at home. It’s faster, easier and actually greener (no throw away filters). My biggest gripe has always been that I’m not a fan of the sediment the French press leaves behind. Compared to the paper cone filter that the pourover uses, there’s just no way a fine mesh screen can filter out all the fine sediment from the coffee grounds.But to be fair, it’s just cloudy coffee. It’s not like there were grounds at the bottom of the cup. And the longer you let the coffee sit, the clearer it gets because it settles. (This is an important point—more on this later)

Also to be fair, for guys like me who use cream in my coffee, what difference does it make that it’s cloudy? Ha!

So here is my take on Zojirushi’s new French press:

PREP—Super easy. The instructions call for 6 scoops for a full carafe of coffee (900mL); I brewed the full amount because I wanted to taste test the coffee at optimum. I only wish there were markings on the inside for water levels when making less than 6 servings; it would take out some of the guess work.

BREW—At first the plunger may feel like it’s stuck, but it isn’t. Just lift it to loosen and try again. I think the tightness is actually proof that the filtration assembly is precisely designed to catch all the grounds from leaking into the coffee, unlike some cheaper models.

TASTE—For my taste, it was a bit strong so I brewed a second time using half the amount of grounds. This was just right for me, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it. Compared to my pourover coffee, this French press made it taste “brighter”; if that makes sense.

KEEP—As expected from a Zojirushi insulated product, it didn’t disappoint me after 2 hours of letting it sit. Of course the coffee doesn’t have that just brewed taste anymore, but it was still hot enough to satisfy. The lid doesn’t allow it to retain heat like a drink mug, but this was great for when you feel like having another cup later.

CLEAN—Lots of parts to wash, but I’ll take this anyday over not being able to get to the nooks and crevices and letting debris build up.

Overall, will it make me switch from my pourover? I don’t think so, but if you’re a French press person anyway, I think this one’s for you. The filtration is excellent and the insulation makes this an ideal coffee companion for breakfast with friends, when people always want a second cup.

To celebrate National Coffee Day, I tried a Coffee Milk Bread using my Zojirushi Breadmaker and a recipe from Apron.

This dough can be made easily in your breadmaker using with the “Home Made” setting, and simply adding brown sugar and instant coffee.

Divide the dough up into little balls and bake in your oven.

Came out pretty good! It was moist, with a little hint of coffee. It didn’t have the smell of coffee like I was expecting, but it definitely had the underlying taste. It reminded me of the tea bread that I tried a while ago, which I thought was more aromatic.

For more ideas on how to use instant coffee, try these. It’s the perfect summer drink!

Products used in this post: Fresh Brew Vacuum Insulated Stainless French Press SK-XAE10Home Bakery Maestro® Breadmaker BB-SSC10

Coffee Milk Bread from April

Instant Upgrades For Instant Coffee

Please note that these recipes were not tested by Zojirushi America.

All images by Bert Tanimoto ©2022

How Is Rice Grown? A Complete Guide

The first step in how to grow rice is to prep the rice fields or rice paddy. Rice is planted anywhere between February and May, as it requires constant irrigation all season long. Unlike other crops, rice grows in heavy clay and silt loam soils because they can retain water. It’s widely grown throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia and the southern United States.

To prepare the field, farmers will level the ground with GPS or laser-guided grading equipment, which helps the farmers conserve water. Then, fertilizer is added, and a few weeks later, the field will be ready for planting.

Planting

While the fields are irrigated with consistent levels of water, rice seeds will be soaked and planted into the fields. Sometimes, planes that are flying at up to 100 miles per hour will shoot out seeds into the fields, and other times, they will be planted by a grain drill.

Growing

Rice plants will quickly grow up to three feet within a few months of being planted. Farmers will continue to flood their fields to maintain water retention, and also punch holes into the fields for even and efficient watering. The key here is to conserve water while maintaining constant levels of irrigation to keep the rice plants fed and thriving. After a few months, you will be able to see the rice plants show grains on top of the plant, which means that they are maturing and will be ready for harvest.

Harvest, Milling, and Storage

Once the rice is mature, the water from the field is drained and the plants get harvested. The plants are then moved to drying facilities to reduce moisture content, so they are ready to be stored and milled.

Once dried, the hull is removed, which results in brown rice. Then, further removing of the bran layers, or “polishing,” leaves the inner grain, which is white rice. White rice is often enriched with vitamins to replace some of the nutrients lost during milling.

The Best Way to Prep Rice: Rice Cookers

Using a rice cooker is the best way to cook your rice. It’s easy, and most importantly, it will always be cooked perfectly every single time. At Zojirushi, we have dedicated ourselves to the art of perfect rice for many decades, and test thousands of pounds of rice every year! Learn more about our rice cookers by viewing our selection.

Isn’t it an amazing journey that rice takes to make it all the way to our tables? We are thinking we should cook a batch and enjoy it with greater appreciation. Don’t forget to share how you like to enjoy rice by using #zojirushi on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram! We would love to see all your tasty rice dishes.