Buying, Storing, and Cooking Rice

Brown rice, white rice, wild rice, short grain rice, instant rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice, long grain rice… There are so many options so how do you pick one?


What is the best rice to buy?

There are actually over 8000 varieties of rice. Although there are no hard and fast rules about which type of rice to use in a particular recipe, each type has unique characteristics that make it ideal for different uses.

One thing to consider is grain length:

  • Short grain rice has a high amylopectin (starch) content so it is stickier when cooked, making it great for sushi. It can also work well in creamy dishes such as desserts or risotto.
  • Long grain rice is lighter and cooks to a drier, fluffier texture. The grains tend to remain separate when cooked, making long grain rice great for pilafs.
  • Medium grain rice has characteristics between short grain and long grain.

Another consideration is degree of processing:

  • Brown rice is also called whole grain rice because it contains the bran and germ in addition to the inner layer which is called the endosperm. Because the outer layers are left intact, it has more fiber, takes longer to cook, and has a tougher texture and more nutty flavor than white rice.
  • White rice has the bran and germ removed leaving only the soft endosperm. All of the fiber and most of the B vitamins and iron are also eliminated in the processing of white rice but some of this is replaced through enrichment.
  • Instant rice is rice that has been cooked and then dehydrated so it takes only a few minutes to prepare.

Fancy pants tip: Instead of buying instant rice, cook a big pot of rice on the weekend, refrigerate it immediately, and reheat it when you’re ready to eat/cook with it. 

Here are a few kinds of rice commonly found in North America that you might want to try:

  • Arborio:  A short to medium grain rice often used to make creamy risotto or rice pudding.
  • Basmati: A long grain rice that has a nutty aroma but delicate flavor and light texture. It is great for stir fries, curries, and many rice based side dishes.
  • Brown: A whole grain that can be substituted for white rice in most recipes. I use short grain brown rice to make sushi.
  • Forbidden: Also referred to as forbidden or purple rice because it turns purple when cooked. It has a sweet taste and sticky texture so it would be good for desserts.
  • Jasmine: A long grain rice with a distinctive floral aroma that is available in both brown and white varieties. It is often used with Mediterranean dishes.
  • Red: A whole grain rice with a nutty, chewy texture that works well in rice bowls, pilafs, and rice based sides.
  • Wild: Not an actual rice, but it does go well with rice and has twice the protein and more B vitamins than white rice.

How should I store my rice?

Store white rice tightly covered in your pantry and it will last almost forever.

Because whole grain rice contains natural oils that can go rancid, it can stay fresh in the pantry for only about six months. You can also choose to refrigerate of freeze it for a longer life.

Fancy pants tip: store whole grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils in the refrigerator to prevent rancidity and increase their shelf life.

How do I cook rice?

Not much to say here. Different types of rice require different cooking directions so just check the package directions for best results.

However, do NOT rinse your rice before or after cooking. Why? Because all of those awesome B-vitamins are water-soluble, meaning they can be washed away.

What can I make with my rice?

When I asked friends to share their favorite black bean recipes on twitter, here’s what I heard:

Nom nom indeed!

I’ve also just stared a board on Pinterest for rice recipes so I’d love to see any you’ve got to share!

Pinterest Rice Board

Please share you favorite rice recipe in the comments.
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