A rice cooker can be a convenient kitchen appliance if you are fond of eating rice. It can make the cooking process easy and save time. Nevertheless, if you are using a rice cooker for the first time, you may not expect to see it bubbling and foaming. So, why does a rice cooker bubble over?
A rice cooker starts producing bubbles when you cook starchy rice in it. The boiling water inside the rice cooker mixes with the starch in the rice to form foamy bubbles. These bubbles spill over once they reach the top of the rice cooker. This is quite normal, and there is nothing to worry about.
Let’s talk about this in more detail.
How Do Rice Cookers Operate?
The primary purpose of a rice cooker is to cook rice.
The device has a main body or casing which holds the electric circuitry, heating coil, and user panel. The electrical connection is made to this outer body or shell. The rice cooker will also have an inner pot into which you place the rice and water. Depending on the model, the lid may be removable or integrated into the outer casing.
For using the rice cooker, the inner pot and a measured quantity of rice and water are placed inside the casing. Then, the device is turned on. The heating coil starts heating up and causes the water inside the cooker to boil and become steam. The rice gets cooked in this steam.
When all the water in the cooker is absorbed, the temperature of the pot will suddenly rise. This temperature rise triggers the sensor and causes it to stop the cooking function. As a result, the device is switched off, or it shifts into keep warm mode.
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What Produces The Bubbles In A Rice Cooker? Is It Normal For The Rice Cooker To Bubble?
When you cook rice in a rice cooker, the device may make bubbling sounds and produce foam. When it happens, it is usually because of the type of rice you used.
Rice contains starch, and some rice varieties have more starch than others. Some brands prewash the grains before packaging to get rid of the excess starch.
Now, your rice cooker is more likely to bubble when you use it for cooking starchy rice. When the cooking process is underway, the water inside the cooker begins boiling. This water mixes with the rice.
Now, when starch is present in the rice, the water will also mix with the starch. This combination results in large, soapy bubbles. These bubbles expand and burst during the cooking process.
As the bubbles grow, they rise to the surface of the cooker. If there is enough liquid, the bubbles can rattle the lid and spill over.
Although bubbling over is normal for a rice cooker, excessive spillage can be a pain to clean. The starchy water will make surfaces sticky, and the cooker will also get very hot. Fortunately, we can prevent these problems. Let us find out how.
How To Stop A Rice Cooker From Bubbling?
We already saw that it is normal for rice cookers to bubble and spill liquid when you cook rice in them. However, it is not exciting to clean all the gooey liquid that falls out.
Given below are the various ways using which you can stop a rice cooker from bubbling.
1. Use rice with less starch.
The starch in rice causes bubbles. Too much starch also makes rice grains stick to each other. So, you can end up with mushy or soupy rice. The easy way to solve both these problems is to use low-starch rice.
Now, did you know that there are two types of starch in rice? They are amylose and amylopectin. Rice with more amylopectin bubbles more. Meanwhile, amylose-rich rice is less likely to become sticky and form bubbles.
Most varieties of long-grain rice like jasmine rice and basmati rice have more amylose and less amylopectin. So, they are good choices when you do not want your rice cooker to bubble over.
2. Wash the rice well before cooking.
Every type of rice, irrespective of the variety, will contain some amount of starch. When the rice interacts with boiling water, this starch forms bubbles. Although you cannot completely get rid of all the starch, you can wash out most of it.
Run the raw rice under water and stir it around with your hands to release the excess starch. You will see the water turn white. Pour away the starchy liquid. Rinse and repeat the process till the water turns clear. By doing this, you can get rid of all the excess starch in the rice.
When you use prewashed rice, you can skip this step. However, prewashed rice may not be available in most parts of the world. So, you would have to wash it thoroughly to get rid of all the excess starch and prevent it from bubbling in your rice cooker.
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3. Soak the rice before cooking.
Soaking the rice for several minutes will also help to release any remaining starch in the rice grains. You can also wash it one last time after soaking to eliminate as much starch as you can.
Soaking the rice will soften the grains. When the grains absorb moisture, they become soft and easier to cook.
Using soaked rice for cooking will also help to cut down the cooking time.
4. Avoid overfilling the rice cooker.
Despite how well you wash and rinse the rice grains, you cannot eliminate all the starch. Whatever starch remains shall mix with the boiling water and form bubbles. It is nearly impossible to avoid it completely. However, you can prevent it from spilling over and making a mess by using the recommended quantity of rice to water.
Starchy bubbles will erupt from the rice cooker and spill out only when the cooker has enough liquid to allow them to reach the surface. With no other place to go, they will leak out.
Follow the measurements and instructions of the rice cooker to prevent overfilling it. When you use an adequate quantity of rice and liquid, the cooker will not spill over. Any bubbling will be contained within the inner pot and not cause a big mess.
5. Add a little oil.
Adding a few drops of oil into your rice cooker can help you keep the foam under control. Oil will break the bubbles apart and prevent them from rising to the top.
Thus, oil forms a barrier for the starch and keeps the area around the rice cooker clean. A small amount of oil will also push the grains apart and prevent the rice from sticking together.
When choosing oil for this purpose, take care to choose the ones with a neutral taste. Oils like olive oil will not impart a strong flavor, and the rice will be edible.
Interesting Further Reading:
- Why Do Rice Cookers Take So Long? (Ideal Cooking Time)
- Can Blenders Explode? (Why + 9 Ways To Prevent Explosions)
- Do Rice Cookers Use Less Water? (Why And For Which Rice?)
6. Clean the cooker to get rid of all residue.
If nothing seems to work, take a closer look at all the vents and gaps in the rice cooker. If the device has boiled over in the past, the starchy liquid may have dried and clogged the vents and ducts.
When this happens, the steam from the cooker will not have an outlet to escape. Hence, it will cause the starch to boil over and leak through the lid. Clean the rice cooker thoroughly, and you should be able to solve this problem.