Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to Store Rice

As many rice varieties as there are, when it comes to food storage they can be boiled down (Sorry. Bad joke.) to two basic kinds: white rice and brown rice. Cooking and storing them are very similar, but there are some important differences that should be noted.

About Rice

As a cereal grain, rice is one of the most important staple foods for a large part of the world. It is second highest in worldwide grain production, right after corn. Most corn isn't grown for human consumption though, so, as far as humans are concerned, rice is a big deal.

As the seeds of the rice plant are first milled, removing the touch outer husks, we are left with what we think of as brown rice. Further milling to remove the bran, bran residue, and cereal germ, leaving only the endosperm, gives us white rice.

Nutritionally, brown rice packs more punch than white because of the fiber and other nutrients found in the bran and germ. There is also a small amount of fat in the germ, meaning that brown rice can spoil more easily than white rice. For this reason white rice is favored by most long-term food storage experts.

White rice is sometimes buffed and/or treated with glucose, flour, or talc to improve it's appearance. It can also be enriched with various compounds to improve it's nutritional content. Many of those methods involve dusting it with powders that wash right off when you rinse the rice to clean it so, I don't think it's worth bothering with.

Rice is a good source of protein, but it is not a complete protein. It needs to be combined with other protein sources such as beans, soy, nuts or seeds to complete the essential amino acid profiles as found in meat. Classic beans and rice, without the meat added, is an excellent vegetarian protein source.

Storing Rice

All rice is best stored hermetically sealed, with the oxygen removed, in a cool, dry place. Simple oxygen absorption packs can be used when storing, but I don't know that they are especially needed with white rice, unless you plan on keeping it for a very long time. I believe in rotating my food storage, eating what we store, so when we do it right, it never lasts more than one year.

Cool means around 70 degrees Fahrenheit or less. Even under those conditions, brown rice will start to go rancid in about 6 months. Storing brown rice below 60 degrees, or even freezing it, will extend the shelf life considerably. White rice will last between one and two years, without freezing.


Miner Mischief said...

How long do you suppose white rice will last, vacuum sealed, in a windowless store room under sub 60-degree (year round) conditions? I may freeze in a large chest freezer w/ some other items.

I'm doing a lot of stocking of our lake house, so just am finding your blog to be interesting as I build out shopping & prep lists.


John Newman said...

From what I've been able to find out, if rice is vacuum sealed and kept below 70 degrees F, it can last 8 to 10 years.