Pros: Full-size steaming basket, curved design, see-thru glass lid, warming feature
Cons: Manual could be improved, high lemon rate, only available in large size, can burn rice
The Oster 4705 is constructed of white plastic and seems reasonably solid. It may be a bit large for the occasional rice eater or the small kitchen. It takes 10 cups of raw rice and yields up to 20 cups of cooked rice, however you can still use it to cook as little as one cup of cooked rice.
Keep mind that what rice cooker manufacturers call a "cup" is a little 1000ml rice cup rather than 8 oz. liquid cup.
We spent an absurdly long time looking at over 100 rice cookers and chose this one for two reasons: the curved styling (it doesn't look like a port-a-potty) and it also contains a steaming basket that can cook vegetables or fish at the same time (or in lieu of) cooking rice.
Steaming Basket vs. Steaming Tray
FYI, whether or not you buy this unit, there are a number of reasons why steaming your food is desirable. Steaming doesn't use any oil or other fats. Steaming also retains the food's natural color and nutrients better than boiling. Only rice cookers with a separate steaming basket (not rack) allow you to cook rice and steam other foods at the same time!
Even the cheapest rice cookers now include a steaming "tray" or "rack", which is nothing more than a steel grid on which you can put foods to steam. We have found that some manufacturers call such a grid a "tray" and some call it a "rack". There is no industry standard use of terms. In any case, the disadvantage is that once you put food on the little grid, it uses all of the space in the rice cooker, i.e you cannot cook rice at the same time as these other foods. Also, the food can easily fall off of the grid into the boiling water. It will still cook, of course, but this defeats the health and taste advantages of steaming.
This model has an edge over most other rice cookers because it includes a steaming BASKET rather than the little steel grid.
The steaming basket is removable, no-stick and dishwasher washable. It is 3" high and sits on top of the rice cooker acting as a separate layer for the steamed foods. If cooking rice only, you would use the main rice cooker unit only and simply put the steaming basket aside.
We've cooked rice and steamed fish at the same time. Fish may need to be removed earlier than the rice(depending on fish thickness), and this was easy enough to do- by just lifting out the basket when the fish appeared cooked through. Both the rice and fish came out delicious!
Many rice cookers do not have a lid that is removable or washable. This one has both. This is important because a crusty layer of gluten builds up on the lid every time you cook rice. We also like the thick glass lid on this model. It allows you to see the cooking progress of the steaming basket, or rice, without lifting the lid and potentially burning your face! The lid is dishwasher safe.
Considering that Oster is well established as a kitchen tools maker, I was disappointed that the manual did not have more examples on the proper ratios of rice to water. I eat all kinds of rice (basmati, white, wild, brown, jasmine, risotto) and have come up with ratios that I like, but I'd still want to see this. More guidance and suggestions for steaming foods would have been helpful too. For example, there were no tips in the manual about how to steam fish, or even that it could be done!
Rice Cooker Features include:
- All white contemporary design
- Steaming basket allows you to steam other foods at the same time as cooking rice
- Both rice bowl AND steaming basket are no-stick and dishwasher safe
- Automatic Keep-warm feature
- Separate light indicators for Power on and Keep Warm modes
- Cooks 10 cups raw rice (20 cups cooked)
- Includes plastic paddle, measuring cup, manual
- Removable power cord (3.5 feet short for "safety" reasons, but this should be adequate for most kitchens. You can also buy an extension cord if you need it)
- Heat-resistant handles on rice cooker, steaming basket and glass lid.
Oster claims this unit has spherical coils for more even cooking; I cannot substantiate this claim. However, the packaging and instruction manual indicate that it cooks risottoes and brown rices, which take a lot longer to cook- and therefore stress a rice cooker much more than white rice.
I do have some personal caveats to let you know about this model. The first unit we bought worked only once and had to be exchanged. It may have been previously returned to the store. I don't slight Oster for that. However, on the replacement unit, when we plugged it in for the third use the keep-warm light shorted out. But we may have just had some lemons; a neighbor has one and has not reported any problems to date. We bought them (on sale) from Macy's retail store and had no problems exchanging for new models.
Update 9/12/04: Have noticed rice either comes out slightly burned on bottom, or slightly damp on top. Not so bad that we 'd return it. It could be that we are making small portions (2 people) for which the unit wasn't designed. Am trying to perfect the water:rice ratios. Would be happy to hear from other owners of this model, please leave comment or email.
Update 10/19/04: Warming light does not come on, so not sure if warming feature works! Cooking light stays on, even when rice basket is removed. I consider this to be a safety hazard. I am lowering my rating based on these updates!