Freezing cooked brown rice in imitation of Trader Joe's product
I have been buying a lot of precooked, frozen brown rice from Trader Joe's for weeknight meals when I don't have an hour to wait for the rice to cook. The product is pretty good, but it got me thinking that I should just do this myself on a weekend and freeze it in batches. There is a brown rice farmer at my farmers' market so I thought I'd give it a try. Looks to me like I just cook the rice and lay it on a cookie sheet in the freezer to "IQF" the grains, and then pack it up into freezer bags. Any advice, tips or tricks? Am I missing something?
I make brown rice in the oven. Saw it on Good Eats (Alton Brown rules) and it comes out perfect every time:
1 1/2 cups brown rice, medium or short grain
2 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the rice into an 8-inch square glass baking dish that has been sprayed with no-stick spray. Bring the water, butter, and salt just to a boil in a kettle or covered saucepan. Once the water boils, pour it over the rice, stir to combine, and cover the dish tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Cover with lid. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove cover and fluff the rice with a fork.
I have never tried it, but I'm sure you could double the recipe and just use a larger dish.
Yep, as others have noted, freezing rice can work perfectly well. I personally prefer individual servings wrapped in saran, but after I've wrapped them I flatten them slightly to make "discs". If you're making it in a rice cooker and don't want to do the whole batch on a cookie sheet, you can also just be sure to leave the rice cooker open for a little while to let some of the excess moisture from steaming evaporate. (Otherwise, re-steaming when you nuke it can make it mushy)
This is so easy you will be kicking yourself for giving TJ your money all this time.
I cook an entire bag of rice at once - about 2 pounds. Spread it on a rimmed baking sheet to cool quickly. Scoop it into a large heavy zipper freezer bag and freeze it in a flat layer. Don't worry if it's a solid mass. When you're ready to use some smack it on the counter a few times and some will break off or it will all break into chunks. Don't worry about breaking it into individual grains. When you put it into the micowave, it will steam apart just fine. You don't need to add any liquid. I don't even cover it.
Don't bother freezing it in individual portions. Wastes bags and you never really know how much you'll need for each meal anyway.
Frankly, I think the frozen rice is often better than fresh. The little bit of additional steaming separates the grains perfectly and it's never ever sticky.
I know someone who freezes brown rice regularly. She cooks it, allows it to cool, then puts it in a gallon-sized zip-top bag. She says it's important to flatten the bag of rice (lay it on the counter and smooth everything out) so that the rice forms a layer no more than 3/4 of an inch deep and there is no air inside.
I've seen her pull it out of the freezer and the rice was a flat thin slab that completely filled the bag. She easily broke off what she needed and gave it a quick zap in the microwave. In my opinion it's not quite as good as freshly made rice, but very acceptable.
Personally I use an electric rice cooker from Japan. Throw the rice, water and salt in, hit the button and walk away for 45 minutes...
Just a thought, but have you thought of getting a preasure cooker? It cooks brown rice in I believe 12 minutes. I use it to cook regular rice all the time and it comes out perfect in about 6 minutes. (Times begin after the cooker comes up to preasure which takes about 5 minutes).
I freeze my brown rice in qt sized glad zipper bags.
I fill the bag with about 2 cups of rice, lay the bag flat on the counter and expell any extra air. Pull the tab closed and freeze flat. They stack nicely.
To reheat I add a tsp. of water or broth to the rice in a pyrex bowl, cover with a plate, and nuke for about 20-30 seconds.
I cook my rice by dropping it slowly into boiling water so the water never comes off the boil. Then cover, drop the heat down to almost nothing, and cook about 30 min and fluff. Nice separate grains, never 'exploded' and mushy. 1 cup rice to 1 1/2 c water.
Would love to but we are in the process of downsizing to a smaller home and I am trying to get rid of things and can't really add more equipment. I haven't had a need for a pressure cooker so unfortunately, I will not be in the market for either a pressure cooker or a rice cooker.