Tips to Cook Rice Perfectly

At Zojirushi, we test enormous amounts of rice every year to perfect our rice cooking technology. Cooking rice is a true art, and even a couple of minutes over or under can make a huge difference in your rice’s taste and quality. Today, we’ll be diving into the fundamentals of how to cook rice in your Zojirushi rice cooker. Let’s dive in!

The Basics

Simply put, rice is prepared by boiling or steaming the rice grains in water over an extended period of time. Think of a rice cooker as essentially a precise rice steamer that helps your rice absorb water evenly throughout. Here are a few steps to keep in mind every time you cook your rice:

  1. First, choose what kind of rice you will be cooking. This will help you select the best cooking setting and the water to rice ratio, so your rice is not undercooked or overcooked. Long-grain rice tends to remain separate after cooking, while short and medium-grain rice will tend to stick together more.
  2. Make use of your Zojirushi rice measuring cup. When we are in a hurry, it might seem easier to just eyeball your rice instead of using the rice measuring cup, but this will always make for poorly cooked rice. Measuring the rice is crucial when cooking rice in your Zojirushi rice cooker. Always use the rice measuring cup included since it’s designed to work in conjunction with the water measuring lines in the cooking pan to produce delicious rice. Fill the rice measuring cup to overflow and then level it off.

    Zojirushi’s “How to Rinse Rice” Video

  3. Wash your rice to remove excess starch, which prevents your rice from becoming gummy. Sometimes, open bags of rice can even be exposed to dust as well, so it’s important to take this step to prepare a clean dish. Because dry rice will start to absorb moisture the moment it comes in contact with water, it’s essential to work quickly when washing so it doesn’t absorb too much starchy water. We recommend washing your rice by rinsing it 3 to 4 times while making 30 circular motions in your pot. Or watch our rice rinsing tutorial!
  4. Use the right amount of water. Rice comes in all shapes and sizes that require different amounts of water when cooking. Here at Zojirushi, we want to make sure that every batch of rice is cooked to perfection. The cooking pans come with water measuring lines corresponding to each of the settings included in the rice cookers. We recommend always following the water measuring lines for perfectly cooked rice. If you are cooking other grains like wild rice, check out our “Know your Rice” page that has all the information you need to cook other grains in your Zojirushi rice cooker.

With Zojirushi rice cookers, cooking rice is as easy as pressing a button. Our Micom rice cookers are preprogrammed to soak the rice, cook, and steam it so you can enjoy the tastiest rice every single time.

For our friends who use Zojirushi’s conventional rice cookers, don’t fret. You can also have perfectly cooked rice; just follow these two important steps.

  1. Soak your rice. For the best tasting rice, always soak the rice before cooking. By allowing the rice to absorb some of the water before cooking, the texture of the rice will be improved, and you will enjoy more flavorful rice. Before switching the rice cooker to cook, soak white rice for 15 to 30 minutes and brown rice for 30 to 45 minutes.
  2. Let it steam. Our journey to perfectly cooked rice is not quite over once the switch goes to keep warm. Let the rice steam for about 10 minutes before opening the lid allowing the rice to finish cooking. Once the 10 minutes have elapsed, fluff the rice and enjoy!

Helpful Tips:

• Once your rice is cooked, always fluff your rice to allow excess steam to escape, preventing excess accumulation of moisture inside.
• Get the best out of the automatic keep warm feature in your Zojirushi rice cooker. Don’t keep rice over the recommended time (12 hours on most Micom rice cookers). This will ensure that you always enjoy fresh and tasty rice.
• Refrigerated rice is excellent for making fried rice! Here are some of our fried rice recipes for some inspiration.

Did you learn anything new about how to cook rice today? Let us know on social media by tagging your photos on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

Where Do Tea Leaves Come From? Learn How Tea Grows

Do you know what camellia sinensis is? You might have guessed, but it’s the species of evergreen shrub whose leaves and buds are used to produce the tea that we drink every day. You can distinguish the camellia sinensis bush through its small white flowers and bright yellow stamens in the center, which produce a hard green bud containing a single brown seed. Today, we’ll be learning about how these tea leaves are produced, where they come from, and how tea leaves are transformed into the loose-leaf or satchels that we instantly recognize at consumption. Let’s dive in.

Where Do Tea Leaves Come From?

The tea plant originally comes from East Asia, possibly originating from China or India, and much of the world’s tea still comes from those regions. Other countries that produce tea leaves include Kenya, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Vietnam, Japan, and Argentina. Origins date back many centuries to the Han dynasty in China, where it was possibly referenced in writing in 59 BC. If left alone, these tea bushes can grow up to a magnificent 30 feet tall, but they are pruned to small bushes so that they can continuously produce more leaves and be easily managed.

How are Tea Plants Harvested?

Today, most of the tea we drink is harvested on tea plantations or tea gardens. Tea bushes take about four years to mature and are then planted on sloping terrain to easily trap water and grow. After about five years, tea plants are finally ready to be harvested. Tea is a very labor-intensive product in which the tea plants are almost always handpicked with care.

How Tea Leaves are Processed

After the tea leaves are harvested, they undergo a drying process to remove all moisture. Then, depending on the type of tea, the dried tea leaves are rolled and fermented, which gives the tea its essential oils and distinctive aromas. The length of the fermentation also determines the type of tea that is produced: green, black, oolong, or others. Then, after being tested by tea tasters, they are blended into different varieties and packaged in bags or loose leaves.

How to Make a Perfect Brew

Now that you know how tea is harvested and processed, you might be wondering how to brew a perfect batch that will bring out the best characteristics of this wonderful beverage. First, make sure that you are sourcing high-quality tea. Good tea leaves should be smooth, light, and sturdy. They shouldn’t crumble in your hands. Another way to distinguish great tea is by taking in its aroma. One of the greatest parts of drinking tea is smelling its distinct aromas, and if you aren’t able to smell anything from it, that may indicate that the tea is old or stale.

Next, use the right temperature water to extract all of the character from your tea. Our water boilers come with different temperature settings to help you brew a wide range of teas. More delicate teas are best brewed at lower temperatures, while green tea is best brewed around 175°F. Herbal or oolong tea should be brewed at 195°F and at 208°. Be careful not to steep your tea for too long! This might make the tea overly bitter. Follow the recommendations that come with your tea.

Lastly, if you want to enjoy your hot tea for hours on end, store your tea in a Zojirushi stainless mug or tumbler to maintain its freshness and temperature.

Did you learn anything new about tea today? Let us know on social media by tagging your photos on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram! #Zojirushi #ZoFan

 

 

What is Tea? Everything You Need to Know

Tea may only be thought of as an alternative to coffee in America, but it is a huge part of day-to-day life for the many parts of the rest of the world. In fact, tea is the second-most consumed beverage on the planet, surpassed only by water! The tea world is vast with a storied history that goes back centuries. Let’s dive into what tea actually is, where it comes from, and how to properly enjoy the many benefits of the beverage.

Definition of Tea

Tea is a fragrant beverage extracted from the leaves of the shrub Camellia sinensis and no other beverage can be called “tea” if they aren’t. However, different types of tea leaves are produced by the Camellia sinensis, such as black, green, white, dark, and oolong after it is processed. Another key defining factor of tea is that it carries caffeine. All other “teas” that you might be thinking of that are caffeine-free such as herbal, lemon, mint, or rooibos are actually tisane. In our visual guide to tea leaves, you can see many different types enjoyed in Japan, from green tea, houjicha, matcha, oolong, and more.

Camellia sinensis is an evergreen plant native to Asia and thrives in sub-tropical climates with high altitudes and loose soil. It’s found all over the wild and can grow in slopes, flat lands, and lower altitudes. Ancient tea farming methods include hand plucking tea leaves and buds and using bamboo trays to collect them before drying them out. It is said that tea was first discovered in China when the Chinese emperor Shen Nung happened to try an accidental infusion of leaves and boiling water that came from the Camellia sinesis.

Japanese Tea

Tea was first recorded in Japan in the 8th century after being first imported from China. While it was originally a drink for priests and monks only, tea drinking became more popularized in the 12th century after Japan started planting tea in Japan for widespread consumption. The Japanese tea ceremony was born shortly after that, around the 13th and 14th centuries, and in the 18th century, the famous Japanese green tea, sencha, was developed.

In our visual guide to tea leaves, you can see many different types enjoyed in Japan, from green tea, houjicha, matcha, oolong, and more. You will also notice that certain teas are best brewed at specific temperatures to extract the most flavor without becoming too bitter. This ranges from 160-208 °F, and steeping times will differ as well.

Tea in Japanese Culture      

Tea is a major part of Japanese culture, with tea rooms and tea ceremonies dating back to the 15th century. Tea ceremonies are still practiced today, using various utensils and tea wares to prepare and drink matcha in a traditional tearoom with a tatami floor. These ceremonies have varying degrees of formality and authenticity and are a time to provide guests hospitality in a peaceful space detached from everyday life.

Japanese tea gardens are also dedicated spaces for people to quietly reflect on the beauty of nature and the art of living in harmony and detach from the hustle and bustle of a busy world. These gardens are lined with stepping stones called roji, which gives the guest a sense of traveling deep into the mountains.

Tea at Zojirushi

At Zojirushi, tea is also a way of life that is reflected within our products. Our hot water boilers are equipped with four different temperature settings so that you can prepare your tea with precision to pull the perfect brew every time. All of our hot water boilers are designed to be easy to clean, easy to use, and always there for you when you need a cup of tea in hand.

Let us know if you have anything new about tea today by tagging Zojirushi on your photos with #zojirushi on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!

You Love Your Rice Cooker. Now, Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Rice.

Zojirushi has been making rice cookers for nearly 40 years, so we like to consider ourselves experts in the field. Therefore, we test our products with the most modern technology to ensure that our appliances can make the best quality cooked rice every single time. For example, our new Umami® Micom Rice Cooker & Warmer NL-GAC10/18 is equipped with a special umami setting that features technology that soaks and steams your rice for longer, which results in an enhanced rice flavor. This is in addition to our signature Fuzzy logic technology, which can cook a variety of different grains to perfection. 

But, did you know that rice is the most important human food crop in the world, feeding more than half of the world’s population? In Japan, rice symbolizes blessing and joy and is a staple for every meal in every household. Not only are rice crops a staple in Asian countries, but the gluten-free grain is essential in cuisines from Africa to Latin America. Today, in honor of our love of rice, we will be exploring the history of rice, where rice comes from, and other ways that the rice plant contributes to human culture worldwide.

What is Rice?

In simple terms, rice is an edible starchy cereal grain produced from a grass plant. Specifically, the grass species or rice plant that rice comes from is called Oryza sativa (Asian rice) or Oryza glaberrima (African rice). There are many other rice species within these classifications, such as Japonica, Indica, Aromatic, and Glutinous. Overall, it is estimated that there are up to 40,000 different types of Oryza sativa all over the world. 

 

Where Did Rice Originate From?

The oldest rice species is thought to have originated about 14 million years ago in what is now the Philippines. Over time, this species became cultivated by humans, and the rice plant evolved to produce rice grains that were more palatable to the human taste. Asian rice was first domesticated in China between 8,200 and 13,500 years ago and then spread to other parts of the world. 

Where is Rice Grown?

 

Because rice is a resilient plant that can grow in various wet or dry climates and withstand extreme weather conditions, it can essentially be grown anywhere in the world (except for Antarctica). There are more than 144 million rice farms worldwide, ranging from Asia, West Africa, the Middle East, and South America. The Oryza sativa can be grown worldwide, while the Oryza glaberrima is grown in West Africa. In 2017, China produced the most paddy rice in the world, clocking in at 210.3 million metric tons. India had the largest harvest area of rice in the 2017-2018 season, coming in at 43.78 million hectares of farmland. 

 

Global Rice Consumption

 

Rice is most widely consumed in Asia, providing up to 50% of the dietary caloric supply for millions in the region. However, we are seeing other countries in Latin America and Africa adopting rice as an increasingly important part of their diets as well. According to recent studies, rice consumption around the world is expected to grow steadily at 1.1% per year until 2025. Thanks to rice, we are able to fill hungry stomachs around the world and even use every part of the rice plant to build houses, make clothing, or even make rice-based beauty products. At Zojirushi, rice is a way of life, which we celebrate daily in our commitment to making the best rice cooking appliances.

 

Did you learn something new about rice today? What is your favorite type of rice, and how do you like to prepare it? Let us know if you have any more rice trivia by tagging Zojirushi on your photos with #zojirushi on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

 

 

 

Tonjiru: Japanese Pork & Vegetable Miso Soup

We all may be familiar with miso soup, but tonjiru is a classic type of miso soup that is widely popular in Japan during the colder months. This hearty home-cooked favorite features a savory, pork-infused broth complemented by seasonal vegetables and is perfect as a snack, appetizer, or main dish when paired with a bowl of rice. Not only is it incredibly easy to make, but it packs huge flavor and nutrients for anyone craving a comforting meal.

Where Does It Come From?

Tonjiru (豚汁) comes from traditional Chinese characters that mean “pork” and “soup.” Sometimes, it can be read as “butajiru,” but the Japanese kanji characters are the same. Tonjiru was created sometime in the Meiji era (late 1800s) and has been a traditional winter dish ever since. This soup was meant to feed many mouths, and because meat was not as readily available as it is today, the soup that we enjoy today has a much higher pork to vegetable ratio than before. This soup is preferred not only for its flavor but because of its high-fat content, which keeps the soup warmer for longer.

How to Enjoy Tonjiru

Here are some of the tastiest ways to prepare tonjiru right at home.

Pork

  • Marble-rich cuts of pork like pork belly or shoulder are most commonly used for this dish. Thinner cuts will cook faster, but thicker cuts may add more depth and flavor. The choice is up to you!
  • Brown the pork first to add more flavor to the soup base. Fry evenly on both sides until the meat turns brown. Some even like to char the pork before adding it to the soup.

Vegetables & Add-ons

  • After browning the pork, “sweat” your vegetables in the same pan to release their flavors and aromas. Use seasonal vegetables that are available to you, such as mushrooms, carrots, and onions. The more veggies, the better!
  • Japanese people like to add local ingredients like daikon, shimeji mushrooms, taro, burdock, konnyaku, and Asian chives (nira).
  • You can also add in ingredients like tofu or noodles for a heartier meal.

Soup

  • The pork will add plenty of flavor to the soup, but traditional recipes use less pork and more miso. Add small increments of yellow miso to your water base, and taste as you go. To preserve the miso’s full flavor, add the miso in at last before the water gets to a boil.
  • You can also use dashi to add more flavor and umami.

Garnish

  • Finish off the dish with finely chopped scallions or togarashi (Japanese chili flakes).
  • Serve with a steaming bowl of rice and enjoy!

Now that you know all the key points on how to make the tastiest tonjiru, try making it at home with our very own Total Tonjiru Soup recipe.

Have you ever tried tonjiru? How do you like to prepare it at home? Let us know by tagging Zojirushi on your photos with #zojirushi on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram!