Rice cookers typically come with an inner pot that’s coated with a plastic non-stick surface. This pot tends to wear out over time, requiring replacement. This article describes how to continue to use a rice cooker with a damaged pot, by using a bowl. You can reduce waste by re-using this worn out appliance.
Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t make these replacement pots forever. So, you can end up with a functional rice cooker that is stuck with a worn-out pot.
This happened to my mother. She resolved the problem by purchasing a new cooker, but I figured out how to keep using the old rice cooker. (The cooker in question is a Zojirushi NR-10.)
My experiment is cooking a bowl of rice in the cooker, by putting the bowl into the rice cooker, with some additional water. It worked, and this series of photos show how to do this.
Here’s what the pot looked like. The nonstick surface had holes in it:
My first problem was finding a bowl that fit. I tried to use a large bowl, but most were just too big. I settled on a Corelle cereal bowl.
I cooked one big teacup full of rice. I’m not sure how much this is, but it’s between half a cup and a full cup.
I washed the rice, and then put the rice and water into the bowl.
There’s always a question of how much water to add. I don’t know. I used the finger technique, but used less than required to reach my finger. (The shape of the bowl allows a lot more water the higher you go.)
Next, I added water to the pot, outside of the bowl. This will help transfer heat to the rice via steam. Also, if there’s not enough water in the bowl, maybe the steam will get into the rice.
I used around 1cm of water.
Then, I cooked it. It took around half an hour. I checked the rice at 15 minutes, and it looked like this:
It wasn’t done, but it was cooking!
After almost half an hour, the water in the pot had boiled away, and the cooker shut off. I waited 10 minutes with the lid on (you always do this) and the rice looked like this.
I fluffed it up, and it looked like this:
The rice tasted okay. It was a little bit wetter than I consider “just right”, but it’s fine.
So, there you go. If you have a rice cooker with a damaged or ruined inner pot, you can still use it to make rice, or anything, by putting a heat-proof bowl in the inner pot, putting your food in there, and filling the space between the bowl and inner pot with a centimeter or two of water.
What about a replacement pot? How do you get one?
The easiest way to find a new pot is online. People sell them on Amazon and Ebay. Unfortunately, nobody was selling a replacement pot for this old rice cooker. You could buy a used (or new) rice cooker in great condition for around $50 plus shipping.
Looking a little deeper, I found some nice looking replacement bowls, in stainless steel, on AliExpress. Unfortunately, the bowls were not quite the right size. They were a little smaller than required, by around 1cm. I wasn’t willing to spend the money to buy-and-try; they cost around $29 shipped.
What about removing the non-stick surface?
I haven’t looked too deep into that, but it looks like you can sand off any nonstick coating, and get a bare aluminum or steel surface.
I think, with a pot for rice, you’d need to purchase several grits of sandpaper, to progressively smooth the surface to reduce scratches. The smoother you get, the easier it will be to clean off the cooked-on rice.