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Reviving rice?

There's a thread on the home cooking board asking what to do with leftover rice. A poster says "The refrigerator is not rice's best friend" SO true.


Is there a way to keep rice a day or two so it doesn't dry out or do I just need to pay attention to the above link to see what to do with my rice that has either dried out or congealed into a ball that I could bounce?

Due to calorie concerns, I don't eat a lot of rice at one sitting. It is a pain to make 1/2 cup of rice.

Will it go bad leaving it on the counter? If I put it in the fridge or freezer, is there something I can do to bring it back to life? Or is there some way of cooking it that keeps it from drying out? Maybe throwing some oil in while cooking?

It would be nice to just make one big batch of rice, throw it in the fridge and use it as the need arises.

Why does rice become so useless so quickly?

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  1. Freezing rice and reheating in the microwave is so successful that I've found it the perfect solution to my problem which is the same as yours. I only want a 1/2 cup or so at a time and it's too much trouble and too time consuming to cook that little.

    I cook the entire bag - 1 or 2 pounds at a time - cool it completely, put it into ziplock bags and freeze. When I need it, I can take out just the amount I want, even if it's a chuck of grains stuck together, and microwave it. The moisture seems to re-steam it.
    I swear it comes out as good as freshly cooked rice. Better than had I refrigerated it and reheated it. That always seems to produce some crunchy grains that dried out in the fridge even after only a day or two. The fridge is not friendly to rice.

    1. I freeze my brown rice regularly in various size portions.
      My silicone muffin tray gets more use as a rice portioner than as a baking too -- I freeze the rice in muffin sized portions then remove to a ziplock.

      To reheat I just zap with the microwave. Though more often than not I'll heat up chili, toss a frozen rice muffin in and come back to a one-dish meal.

      1. Leftover rice doesn't have to be useless. Take note on the above. Feezing little portions in baggies is ideal. You can also invest in a rice cooker which allows you to keep rice warm consistanly over time. Or, take leftover rice and make n.f. rice pudding which is a great breakfast item. Use n.f. 1/2 &1/2 and splenda :)KQ

        1. I keep leftover rice in the fridge or the freezer with equally good results. We usually make rice in the cooker with a meal (always Cal-rose japonica type - different brands, but most often Tamaki Gold or Haiga). Once done, I let the rice cool and put immediately in a ziploc, squish out air, and put in the fridge or freezer, depending on what I anticipate our needs to be for the next week. I take out what I want (1/2 cup or so) in my rice bowl, and nuke for a minute - longer if frozen. Rice comes out nice and hot, just slightly sticky - perfect for lunch. Or I take the whole bag and make chahan to accompany a meal.

          I know many Japanese friends that do the same thing and feel the same way. Perhaps that's because we like our rice somewhat sticky - not super sticky like mochigome or sweet glutinous rice, but with just the right amount of hold. If you're into having rice completely separate - more like the long grain rices (river rice, basmati), then perhaps refridgerating/nuking doesn't work. For Japonica short to medium grain rices, the key is to get it into the ziploc as soon as possible after cooking - leaving it out will definitely dry it out, and then the rice coming out of the fridge/freezer will no longer be sticky at all - just dry, hard, and separate. Even then, sprinkling a little water on (by hand) before nuking can restore it somewhat - although that's pretty desperate - I'll usually make another batch by then.

          1. Make the rice. Eat & enjoy. Then with the cooled leftover rice, form into balls, about fist-sized, wrap them in plastic wrap, then dump them into large freezer bag. When ready to use another day, bring out a rice ball, unwrap, place in traditional Asian indiv.rice bowl, microwave until hot - you get instant 'steamed' rice. (one rice ball per person). it's great. You can use the plastic wrap you covered the rice ball with to cover rice bowl in microwave if you wish.

            1. "Will it go bad leaving it on the counter?"
              "Will it?" Maybe. Can it? Yes, in a very big way - Google around, there's one potential mold toxin that can be very toxic and can appear very quickly.

              "Why does rice become so useless so quickly?"

              Because one of the two main starches in rice (I forget the name, it's either amylose or the other one ;) ) crystallizes at fridge temp and never uncrystallizes thereafter. It will always be harder than when it went into the fridge upon reheating. But that works to advantage for, say, fried rice, where freshly cooked rice invariably turns to mush.

              Curious but relevant food fact: the short shelf life of pre-prepared, cold case sushi is more about the rice getting too hard than the fish going bad!

              Basically, it's one of those things can be used to good effect later, but if you want to be able to freeze or refrigerate it, you'd need the varieties grown and processed for the prepared food industry. Medium and short grain rices seem to be a little less prone to this, if you like those for general purpose eating.

              11 Replies
              1. re: MikeG

                that's really interesting that it's the rice not the fish in sushi that make it short-lived.

                I agree that the type or rice mades a difference. Short-grained brown rice is the all time best & tastiest for freezing and reheating -- it comes out perfectly. Long grained brown rice suffers a little bit. Long grain white rice is the worst.

                1. re: MikeG

                  Amylose: varies from virtually nil (0.5%) to 33% in different rices. More amylose, the harder rices will become.

                  Rices also ary considerably in terms of protein, iron, zinc, calcium, thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    So, what's the healthiest rice?

                    I've been trying different rices lately. I have to think that black rice has a lot of nutriants in it ... tasty stuff ... but the purple color DYED MY MICROWAVE ... I've never had a thing stain a microwave, but I now have a permanent purple spot from this rice (cover before microwaving ... that's my advice). I really like it. Lots more character and flavor than most rice.

                    The sweet brown rice turned out to be surprisingly sticky.

                    1. re: rworange

                      Unfortunately, the differences among rices are not all that significant in terms of human nutrition. I'm working on a project to improve the micronutrient content (vitamini A, zinc, iron) of staple foods (rice, wheat, maize, sweet potato, cassava, beans). The work is important in some areas because of high levels of micronutrient deficiency in children and near exclusive reliance on such crops. In other areas, supporting policies that support traditional dietary variation is more important.

                      Was that one of the colored rices from Thailand?

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        Don't know. Bought them in bulk, so I'm not sure of the country of origin. Well, maybe bulk isn't the word, I bought about a cup of each.

                      2. re: rworange

                        Not sure what is the healthiest rice other than variations of brown rice. But....right now it is "new crop" season. If you go to asian markets, look for the bags with the "new crop" stickers. The rice is so much better when it is "new crop." Many asians stock up at this time of year.

                        1. re: justagthing

                          Thanks. Never heard of that before. Any special way of preparing it?

                          1. re: rworange

                            nope, just plop it into my handy dandy rice cooker, like any other good asian

                        2. re: rworange

                          While new crop rice does make a difference, I've found that the variety and brand is even more important. Given today's vacuum packing and storage, freshness isn't the issue that it once was. If you're used to buying the "standard grade" Japanese cal-rose rice (nishiki, kokuho rose). You should try a small bag of the special premium grades - something more exclusive, like Tamanishiki, Sashanishiki, or Kagayaki -Koshihikari. Several of my friends that I've cooked these for have agreed that they really taste the difference - they're even eye-opening in terms of understanding the true flavor of rice - something that most folks take as being bland and tasteless.

                          There are Japanese stores that have small polishing machines and provide fresh polished rice from rough milled stock. This is kind of like fresh roasting and grinding of coffee beans. It does make a difference, but the issue would be of diminishing returns, especially given the vacuum packing that the specialized rices all use.

                          As far as health goes, I would recommend that you try the Tamaki Haiga rice. It's kind of half-way between white and brown. It has the texture and look of white - it has beem milled, but it has not been fully polished, so it maintains quite a bit of the germ. It is more nutritious than plain white rice, but not so much as brown rice.

                          Here is Tamaki's site with some info on Haiga and their other rices. Note that their Gold brand is another premium rice that is quite good, although I don't think of it as being quite as good as some of the others I mentioned earlier.


                          1. re: applehome

                            This is definitely the best rice and if you can find it, pelase try it. We can't buy it here and it is infinitely frustrating. You won't believe the difference in flavor until you try it.

                            1. re: applehome

                              Try Carolina Gold, an American heritage new crop rice, grown organically in South Carolina's Low Country. Expensive, milled to order, shipped FedEx, and worth every penny.
                              About it: http://www.ansonmills.com/news-page-4...
                              More and how to order: http://www.ansonmills.com/rice.htm
                              When Anson Mills was first able to offer commercial sales, their first customers were Japanese seeking this same rice which had last been available in the 1800s in Japan and had disappeared from cultivation.

                      3. "but if you want to be able to freeze or refrigerate it" < "but if you want to be able to freeze or refrigerate it and have it more or less resemble freshly cooked"

                        1. "that's really interesting that it's the rice not the fish in sushi that make it short-lived."

                          yeah, I thought it so too - being so used to hearing the routine horror stories from the USDA and FDA, I assumed it was the fish, myself. It came up in an interview in the NYT with a manager of one of those fast food sushi chains when he was talking about how often they replaced the stock in the stores. At the time anyway (this was about 10 years ago?), they did it a more often than they'd have had to as far as the fish was concerned, even just in terms of quality, rather than food safety alone. The fish would've been OK all day, but not the rice.

                          1. My family eats rice every single day and left overs from one night's dinner is usually left in the rice cooker, on the counter for the next day. To reheat, sprinkle with water (2 tablespoons or so per cup, depending on how dry it is), cover, microwave for 2-3 minutes. Works everytime - trust me.

                            You can refrigerate it if you want, but it will dry out sooner and will not reheat as well.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: adrienne156

                              If you want simple, rejuvenated plain white rice, microwave your portion adding the water as Adrienne recomments, - thats really key to success..
                              admittedly if you reheat the rice more than once it deteriorates - my husband is guilty of that but its still edible.

                              The rice softens nicely during the course of making fried rice = you actually WANT cold rice for this. heat a few tbst of peanut oil - Slice and fry some onions (thinly sliced cabbage is also gooduntil still crisp then throw in your rice - add whatever other ingredients you want, shrimp, etc - sautee til hot, throw in a few handfuls of beansprouts, chopped green onions - then scramble a few eggs made with a little sesame oil and white pepper in the middle, mix the whole thing around maybe with a handful of cilantro leaves or shredded lettuce, and you have a great fried rice. I dont put in soy because moisture tends to make the beansprouts go limp, .

                            2. Put it in a fridge. Day old rice tends to make the best fried rice.


                              1. Someone said that it makes for good fried rice. You can also just add a ton more water, boil it again and make a rice porridge (jook, congee) or soup.

                                1. I think I was the original "not rice's best friend" poster (!!) and I wholeheartedly agree with the above consensus: freeze individual portions wrapped in plastic, and microwave 1.5-2mins on high, in the plastic, or removed and covered with damp paper towel if you're worried about nuking plastic film. Tamaki gold is my rice of choice too, and this technique works perfectly well with it, also when mixed with brown (I do about 1/3 brown: 2/3 white). If you have a brand that's not quite as nice a texture, try tossing in a small bit of mochi rice in together (helps both with the freshly cooked rice, and also with the texture when you unthaw it)

                                  For a medium grain rice it's important that it's cooked not too wet, too, or it will become mushy. After the rice cooker finishes and has sat for 10-15 mins to finish steaming, I usually open it and leave it open about 5 mins to let some excess steam dissipate (and wipe the inside top of the cooker)

                                  That said, I never bother trying to freeze basmati, which always gets tossed into kheer or custard after dinner if there's some left over. (Or mixed with a bit of spicy south indian pickle and left in a cool spot for lunch the very next day)

                                  Supposedly putting umeboshi in rice onigiri also started as a way to keep it from going bad so quickly. That sounds reasonable and I myself don't worry about rice left out overnight, esp. with umeboshi, but I won't offer an opinion as to whether it really fends off the toxic mold or not. :)

                                  Incidentally, since my in-laws *do* persistently put rice in the refrigerator, I have some experience with that, too: as mentioned above, fried rice is your best option, but first I sprinkle with a very little water, cover with dampened paper towels, and microwave to reheat/resteam. (Once it has been refrigerated, it never seems to break down quite right for jook/congee for me) You could also use this resteamed rice to mix with cheese, herbs, maybe some pine nuts, etc., and fry into rice balls/croquettes where some crunch is anyway expected-- but I'm usually not that ambitious...