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How to preserve rice: FAQs

Discover all the essential information you need to know about how to preserve rice, cooked or uncooked, in a safe and correct way.


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Written by Eunice Samson

pantry storage rice

Key steps

  • Store your uncooked rice in a sealed container somewhere cool and dry.

  • Once you've washed your rice, cook it straight away.

  • You can freeze cooked rice for up to 6 months.

  • Aim to wash your rice before cooking as unwashed rice has been shown to spoil faster.

Brown rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice – more than likely rice is a daily ingredient in your home cooking, but it can sometimes be a source for concern. If kept under the wrong conditions, rice can be unsafe to eat. To help make sure your rice is in the best condition, we've put together the answers to frequently asked questions about how to preserve rice, whether cooked or uncooked.

Never reheat rice twice and make sure that you store it in the fridge as soon as it has cooled down after being cooked.

How long can you store rice for?

For uncooked rice, most types of rice can be stored indefinitely. However, for brown rice, the normal shelf life is around 6 to 12 months. If your uncooked brown rice seems oily and has an off smell, throw the whole packet away. 

The best place to store rice that is uncooked is in a cool and dry area. Once the pack has been opened, make sure you place it in an airtight container or tightly reseal it in its original packaging.

How to store washed rice

Washing rice helps to remove any dirt and excess starch that turns rice gluey when cooked. However, you should only wash rice just before you plan to cook it.

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In other words, if you've washed your rice you should aim to cook it as soon as you can to prevent it from getting moldy:

  1. Leave your washed rice to drain in a sieve.

  2. Spread the rice on a paper towel and pat it dry using other paper towels.

  3. Use this rice for cooking as soon as possible.

Washed riced is different from soaked rice. Wild and wholegrain rice always need to be soaked overnight before cooking if you want a fluffy end result. But remember to drain the water completely before cooking. 

How long can rice be stored in the fridge?

Knowing how to store cooked rice is extremely important as bacteria on rice can lead to food poisoning. Leaving cooked rice for a long time at room temperature means that the spores of a bacterium called Bacillus cereus, which causes food poisoning, will grow quickly. For this reason, the rice should be thrown away if left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

Before placing the rice in the fridge, cool it quickly and properly. Put it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for 4-6 days. Reheat rice only once, and make sure that when you reheat it, the whole pot is steaming. 

How long does cooked rice last in the freezer?

Cooked rice, if kept in a sealed bag or airtight container in the freezer at 0 degrees, will last safely for 6 months. 

With this essential rice storage advice and information, you can now enjoy your delicious home-cooked rice safely and worry-free.

Frequently asked questions on preserving rice

Can you soak rice for too long?

If you place rice into the fridge soaking in 100% pure water you can leave it for up to 48 hours. Generally, food at room temperature should not be left for more than 2 hours due to the risk of bacteria growing and causing a hazard to health, so be sure to place it in to soak immediately.

Does reheating rice kill bacteria?

Reheating rice will not kill off any bacteria which has already been produced. If your rice has been left at room temperature it can have bacteria grow on it which will reproduce and can cause food poisoning if ingested.

How do you drain rice without a sieve?

There are a number of answers to how to drain rice without sieve. If you have coffee filters, paper towels or a cheese cloth, these will all work in lieu of a sieve. The easiest way to drain your rice without a sieve, however, is to use the lid or a large spoon and carefully pour the water away while holding the rice inside your saucepan.

Does rinsing rice remove nutrients?

Definitely not! This is a myth that you should quickly banish from your mind as rinsing rice is actually a great way to achieve a better result when cooking it. The rinsing process washes away surface starches which helps prevent clumping and offers you clean, fresh tasting rice as a result.

Originally published