Let’s Talk About Rice

In BabyStep 5: Grains we give you a long list of grains which can/should be part of your food storage. We really have focused a lot on wheat as it is one of the most versatile grains and is really a staple of any “food storage diet”. However, today we want to go over some details on another very common grain that people often include in their storage … RICE!

Types of Rice

There are over 40,000 different varieties of rice, but people generally store only the most common ones. In general we recommend storing the type that your family prefers to eat, but there are some shelf life considerations with that.

Long, Medium, Short
Rice can be categorized by the kernel shape/size. Long rice is three times as long as wide and cooks up firm and fluffy. Medium rice is a little shorter than long grain and is soft, moist, and slightly sticky. Short rice is less than two times longer than it is wide and is very sticky. Specialty varieties include Arborio, Basmati, Della or Dellmont, Japanese premium, Jasmine, Toro, and Waxy. Info from the USU Extension Office

Brown vs White
Brown rice is considered a whole grain. The outer husk is removed but the bran and germ remain in tact. This provides a lot of fiber and allows the rice to retain it’s nutrients. Brown rice has a short shelf life (about 6 months) due to the oil content found in it, so it will go rancid quickly unless store in the fridge/freezer. There are MANY colors, shapes, and sizes of brown rice including long, medium, and short grains, basmati, red, purple, black and many more.

White rice is rice that has had the bran and germ removed and been completely milled and polished. Normally vitamins and minerals are added back in to improve the nutrient content of the food. White rice has a long shelf life so it is great for long term food storage.

Parboiled rice can be either white or brown. It is rice that has been soaked and steamed before the outer husk is removed. This allows many nutrients to leach into the kernels from the husk that you would be unable to eat otherwise. Parboiled white rice is healthier than regular white rice. It retains nutrients but still lacks the fiber from the bran that brown rice contains. Parboiled brown rice is the healthiest option of all since it gets the extra nutrients leached from the husk while also retaining the bran and germ.

Instant vs Non-Instant
Instant rice is simply rice that has been fully cooked and then dried before packaging. This allows it to have a much shorter cook time since it doesn’t have to be fully cooked again. According to the Whole Grains Council a study has been done showing that instant brown rice has equivalent nutritional value to regular brown rice. So if you find it more convenient to store instant rice versus regular rice, you don’t need to worry about any lost health benefits. Typically instant rice is more expensive than regular rice.

Shelf Life of Rice

White rice has a shelf life of up to 30 years if it is stored in a cool dry place sealed in a container with oxygen absorbers. If stored at higher temperatures it will still last for about ten years. Any added nutrients and flavors will be retained.

Brown rice from the store typically only lasts about 6-8 months due to the oil content in it. If you choose to include this in your food storage make sure you rotate it very aggressively. Commercial packaged instant brown rice designed for longer term storage can have a longer shelf life. Thrive Life has Instant Brown Rice with a 7 year shelf life. That is the longest we’ve ever seen for brown rice.

Uses of Rice

Most people know how to cook traditional meals with rice. It is great as a filler in soups and casseroles, as a side dish for meat/chicken dishes with sauces, spiced up for a delicious mexican side dish, or a staple of chinese food cooking. The one usage that many people don’t often think of is using it as rice flour. If you have a wheat grinder you can grind your rice kernels and make a fine flour that can be used in lots of different recipes. This is especially useful if you have a gluten allergy and need to use alternative flours. Here are a few of the recipes we’ve made: Rice Flour Crepes, Raspberry Almond Thumbprint Cookies, and Cream Cheese and Jam Cookies (made with wonderflour which contains ground brown rice)

How to Cook Rice

If you are used to cooking instant rice, but you have decided to store regular rice since it is cheaper, you may realize you have a little trouble cooking it. Here are a few tips for you. A rice cooker can be helpful, but you will not be able to use it in a powerless emergency. Julie shares her secret to cooking perfect rice over on this blog post. Another great tool to use is a pressure cooker. We recommend getting a pressure cooker over a rice cooker since you can use it for SOOOO many other things. You can check out our favorite electric pressure cooker at this link. It won’t be useful in a powerless emergency but is great to practice on and helps you rotate through your rice easily.

  • emorra

    I have two fail proof methods to cook rice, always remember that it is 2 parts water to one part rice:

    1) Bake 2 parts water/1 part rice in a covered casserole dish (pyrex works super) for 30-35 minutes at 350F. Some varieties like Jasmine may take up to 45 minutes, brown rice usually takes up to twice as long. This method is a no-brainer if you are already baking the other part of your meal.

    2) Place 2 parts water/1 part rice in a pot on the stove. Bring to boil, turn down to minimum and cover with lid once pot won’t boil over. Leave it for 15 minutes for perfect fluffy white rice–this works for white or parboiled rice. Brown rice takes 30-35 minutes with this method.

    Once you’ve cooked a particular type of rice once or twice you should have the timing down just right :)