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Rinse the rice?

Several cook books I own say that rinsing rice (brown or white) reduces stickiness. The Mahatma rice bag and other cook books say NEVER rinse. Is there a consensus of opinion here?

Also, what is sauteeing the rice supposed to do for the final dish?



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  1. I rinse the rice sometimes, some say it takes out the minerals and some feel it's better to clean it. Honestly for me it depends on the type of rice I am cooking. If I am using uncle Bens from the box, I do not rinse it. For some reason I feel the need to wash bagged rice?? when you saute the rice I believe it is to make it less sticky.

    1. Every Chinese cook I am related to rinses her rice every time. I'm not sure about stickiness, but I do know that when you store fairly large quantities of rice (I store mine in a several-gallon plastic wastebasket with lid - I buy at least 10 lb at a time), it can get dusty or even buggy. Rinsing helps rid your rice of those potential contaminants.

      I believe some of the new thinking is that rinsing takes the "fortified" vitamins off the rice. I don't buy fortified rices, but I'm pretty sure the vitamins are simply sprayed onto the rice during processing, so it makes sense not to rinse them back off (after all, you pay extra for that processing).

      I think sauteeing adds flavor and a little color to your finished dish.

      1. Agree with kd. Asian cooks always rinse their rice to get rid of the excess starch on the outside of the rice. Also, rice processing sometimes allows twiggy bits or little stones which would be iimportant to remove.

        I'm aware rice is sometimes fortified but does that only apply to North American grown rice? Brand name (eg. Uncle Ben's) type rice? I've only bought rice in large qty bags imported from asia and I've never seen a label or mention of vitamins added.

        1. My experience is that recipes where the desired final product is separate, individual grains of rice instead of a clumpy mass (a rice salad, for example, or the Mexican rice recipe from Cooks Illustrated) tell you to rinse the rice before cooking to reduce the starch. It does make a difference, I find.

          And sauteeing the rice both browns it (because Maillard reactions are yummy) and further increases the separateness of the grains.

          1. We always rinse both basmati and jasmine rice because after the milling process the rice may be "polished" with glucose or talc powder. In fact Madhur Jaffrey recommends soaking the rice for 1/2 hour before using it.

            Rice is usually not sauteed as such but after the oil is heated, and the shallots and garlic are golden the rice is added and becomes coated with the oil and other flavors.

            1. In the olden days talc was used in rice processing, rinsing rice removed the talc. The label of current brand of rice (from California) I am buying, reads, "no rinsing required". I still rinse, I also soak for 2-4 hours.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Alan408

                Hah! You tellin' me I'm old?
                Most of the time we buy the rice at TJ's or Wild Oats, soon to be Whole Foods.
                I don't recall the exact product label but the instructions read "rinse in several changes of water."

              2. Whatever side of the fence you fall on, save the rinse water.

                Your vegetable or herb garden will thank you for it.

                3 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  what a great idea! we don't have an actual garden but do have a container garden of sorts.

                  1. re: fudisgud

                    Rinse to wash excess starch, dust and any bugs.

                    Sauteeing the rice adds a nuttiness to the rice. It absorbs some oil and flavors it and helps to keep from sticking. This is the difference between rice pilaf and plain rice.

                  2. re: ipsedixit

                    I never found that rinsing the rice has any appreciable effect on stickiness. There are recipes, however, that do call for rice [rinse] water as an ingredient. Apparently it's also good for plants?

                  3. I'm Dominican and we always rinse the rice several times until the water runs clear. We prefer our rice to be separate and in the DR gummy rice is the sign of a bad cook....ah the pressure!

                    1. It's kind of a pain, but I've been converted to rinsing because I definitely find that the rice comes out less gloppy and sticky that way. It also prevents the pot from boiling over while it simmers, which had been an annoyance for me.

                      I rinse a few times, till the water runs clear.

                      Sauteeing is good for making pilau rice, but I don't really see the point unless you mean to flavor the rice. For instance, to make pilau rice, I saute shallots in some oil till they go golden, add some clove and maybe some cumin, then add the rice (I always add it dry in this case, so usually don't wash). Once the rice is well blended with the oil, I add the liquid. But if I just want plain white rice, I don't really see the need for the extra step.

                      1. Strangely, there is no distinction being made between white refined(polished) rice and Brown Unpolished Rice in washing, etc.

                        White REFINED or POLISHED rice has the outside bran removed, where all the protein, vitamins and minerals are. The Bran is generally used in animal feed. The remainder, that humans seem to prefer to eat is the white inner core of STARCH, hence empty calories. A strange example of humans getting the least desirable nutrition, while the hogs are getting all the nutritients! Rice bran has a protein content similiar to flesh foods like meats. Many say, when questioned why do they eat the less nutritiious white rice, when Brown Unpolished Rice is healthier. Their response is usually the taste, which puzzles me, since white rice has little taste. So they must be referring to the taste of the sauces they put on it.

                        Washing can not remove any of the starch except what might be some powder left over from the milling process. White rice is ALL starch. Talc was used to keep the grains seperate should moisture be a problem in shipping from the Orient in the old days before rice was grown in the States. Rinsing was recommended to flush the talc. Do you remember when you could see the white powder floating on the top of the wter, when cooking white rice? Talc.
                        White rice could be used as a glue like for the old scrap books, since it is all starch. lol
                        Brown Unpolishe Rice with the harder outer bran does not need or have talc as far as I can see. It stores and travels well. The water remains clear while simmering.

                        Rinsing a cup of Unpolished rice in a wire mesh strainer consists of using the kitchen sink faucet/sprayer for a few seconds to remove any dust, etc. It doesn't reduce the starch or improve the cooking. I also don't see how it could keep white rice from getting sticky. Stickiness would be more related to length of cooking too long or using too much water. Nor do I see a need to soak rice, especially white rice which cooks so quickly, anyway. Soaking would cause swelling and maybe a mushy finished rice.

                        To loose weight switch too UNREFINED Short Grain Brown rice, and skip the refined white rice which is merely carbohydrates/starch, that deposits as fat, when there are excess calories. By the way, there are no minerals in white rice to remove by rinsing! The minerals and vitamins are in the outer Bran layer, which is long gone. :(
                        This is one time that Organic grown Unpolished rice will be more nutritious and better tasting for a few pennies more. :)

                        I have recommended a cleansing diet of Brown Unpolished Short Grain Rice and vegetables like kale, chards, green beans, zucchini, etc, And it works wonders with blood sugar control and weight loss.

                        I hope this helps clear things up.
                        Now we will hear from the other side of the aisle. ;)

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: nutrition

                          Yes, rinsing was to remove the talc that used to coat rice. it also was good for finding any stray bugs, stones or whatever else might have gotten into the rice, just as sifting did with flour.

                          And yes, hulling and polishing the rice does remove virtually all the minerals and vitamins from the rice. As with all grains, it also makes it easier to store for long periods of time without having it turn bad from the oils in the hull and kernel going rancid. They didn't go to all that trouble just to make it pretty.

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            When you say storing it for long periods , I assume you mean years in burlap bags in grainerys , since I have not seen Unpolished rice turn rancid with reasonable storage in modern kitchens. Of course, rice oils are healthy. Grains of hundreds to thousands of years in archelogy digs can still be very viable.

                          2. re: nutrition

                            You assume that, for recipes that call for rinsing white rice, we're doing it for "a few seconds." In fact, the Cook's Illustrated Mexican rice recipe I referenced above calls specifically for rinsing the rice in a fine mesh strainer for 2-3 minutes. Big difference.

                          3. Brands of rice that include instructions saying do NOT rinse probably parboil their processed rice for quick cooking, so one shouldn't rinse or soak otherwise one will end up with mushy rice.

                            I don't like these quick cook brands of rice and I avoid them and opt for good quality aged brands of rice (ageing is important) which require rinsing and soaking. I like Tilda for basmati, Kokuho Rose for Korean and Japanese cooking, Sunrice California brand short grain for Arabic, and Elephant Brand for Thai and Vietnamese. I am a rice fiend and have done a lot of experimenting...

                            I like love my rice cooker, too.

                            I agree with others that sauteeing imparts nuttiness if it is properly toasted. I have a problem though, since the types of rice I use all require soaking, they don't toast well.

                            1. i usually make basmati at home and i rinse it many times... like four or 5. i usually rinse until the water is pretty clear. i used to just rinse once and never figured out why the texture of my rice wasn't as nice as my mom's. then i started rinsing more and it's much better now. i find that you don't get the benefit unless you rinse and rinse and rinse. soaking before cooking for half an hour also helps you get good texture. all this is for basmati rice. i imagine it's very different when talking about other kinds of rice.

                              1. Forgive my ignorance, but why would Asians want reduce the stickiness of their rice? If it's separate and fluffy, one can't pick it up with chopsticks. As far as I know, rinsing rice is standard procedure throughout Asia, even in the Orient where chopsticks and sticky rice go hand-in-hand.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: JungMann

                                  My family is Chinese, and our rice is always fluffy ... well, with the residual natural stickiness it has. I would observe that the Japanese, however, eat shorter grained rice that is naturally much more sticky than anything that would pass muster in Chinese households. Also, we don't always literally pick up the rice. We are often "shoveling" it from bowl straight to mouth. You don't need sticky rice to accomplish that! In fact, that might make it stay in the bowl, rather than down the gullet! LOL

                                  1. re: k_d

                                    You are right. Japanese rice is shorter and more sticky, but too much water can make it gummy. We like it fluffy but the grains do stick together. Also, some brands of Japanese rice are just more starchy. I like Kagayaki for sushi rice. And I have always rinsed rice and let it soak for 30 minutes. I make jasmine and basmati rice the same way, but since it is different rice the taste and texture is different.

                                  1. re: cee

                                    Gosh, I hope they 'rinse' the pavement or 'highway' before they dry the rice.
                                    Rinsing for several minutes should be mandatory under these conditions unless there is a shortage of water!

                                    I would be surprised if Lundberg treated their rice like this!


                                  2. Just bought 10 lbs of Tilda and noticed it says to "rinse for best results."

                                    1. Always rinse until the water runs clear. The only rice I never rinse is risotto rice (arborio, etc.).

                                      Sautéing helps the grains maintain their integrity. If you let the rice brown, it also adds a nutty flavour.

                                      1. Rinsing: depends on the rice used (if bulk I will always rinse) and the desired result (if I want sticky or creamy, I won't rinse).

                                        Sauteeing: EXCELLENT question. I always thought it kept the grains separate too, but reading this post I thought about making risotto, and how I always saute the rice until translucent before adding stock, so I guess I do it for flavour. But I'm not browning it, so what kind of flavour am I getting... is this something I do for no good reason?

                                        Carswell, by "integrity" do you mean preserve the texture of individual grains so you don't get mushy rice? Or are you referring to keeping them separate?

                                        1. Today, rinsing or washing will get rid of any starch generated by the natural rubbing together of the grains, allowing for a very slightly less sticky cooked product.

                                          Washing was more important than we knew when the fine powders used to coat and protect milled rice included asbestos. The washing practice comes from the need to get rid of protective coatings--no longer an issue.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            I looked in my pantry last night and the basmati rice we have is the Lundberg Brown Jasmine.....therefore I recant my statement of *always* rinsing the rice. Obviously, this does not need to be rinsed.

                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka


                                              Why is it that they don't see the need to coat the rice any more? Was it one of those holdover things that should have been given up years (or decades) before? Growing up in CA we only ate long grain - I don't remember ever rinsing that.

                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                Rice talc was used as a preservative for shipped polished rice (back then on slow boats) and to enhance shine, supposedly attrative to consumers. Talc is less used possibly because of more rapid shipping (speculation on my part), less demand for shiny rice (also speculation), and because of ties to cancer--definitely for talcs containing asbestos, but for all rice talcs as well.

                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                  asbestos on food... boggles the mind, but then much of the 60's and 70's is confounding, wonder what the future will make of the first years of this millenium. Thanks for the info Sam (and most food still gets to Hawaii by slow boat - 4 days from the west coast, although more and more is flown in.)

                                            2. After reading Barmy's post regarding CIs comments about rinsing rice and remembering how a classmate rinsed rice, I decided to post the way I rinse rice.

                                              Washing rice is probably more correct. I do not put rice in a container, then put water in the container, then dump that water and repeat until the water is clear. That is how a classmate and several in this thread are "rinsing", it works but is a waste of water.

                                              I put rice in a container, add water to almost cover, then using my hand I swirl the rice until the water has a chalky appearance, I continue this for a minute or two, then I change the water. I may have to swirl again. My method doesn't generate enough water to water plants.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Alan408

                                                This is what we doo too, but the rice goes into a large sieve and then into the bowl of water. This way we only have to lift the rice out of the water after shooshing around several times.

                                              2. It depends on how sticky you want the final product to be. The dry grains rubbing together give off some of the starch, producing a stickier rice. If that's what you want, cool.

                                                Rice for sushi is rinsed first in order to kepp the grains somewhat separate, although short grain is used to get them to stick together. It's a balancing act, and rinsing makes for a more predictable outcome.

                                                Sauteeing the rice, as others have noted, helps the rice absorb some of the flavor.
                                                Heating the dry rice in a pan and adding the very hot rice to boiling liquid will produce a very light, fluffy, product. (Be sure to use a large pot because it will boil up a lot as you add the rice.) BTW, this can be used for any grain; kasha works wonderfully this way. The "pan roasting" can be used to add some nuttiness as well.

                                                1. Soak, rinse and cook.. that's what I do and it makes perfect rice. I tried it once without rinsing and it was starchy.. I prefer the grains to remain delicate and individual than them all clumping because of excess starchiness.

                                                  1. Thanks for this thread- very interesting reading.

                                                    My question, should you rinse brown rice or just white?

                                                    I like rice a bit dry and separate. I am thinking I should probably should switch to brown because it is healthier and am wondering if it needs rinsing. I know it takes longer to cook.


                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: madeliner

                                                      I do it for all sorts of rice (including brown rice) because I never see how they pack it. Would it be dusty, and contain some bugs...If that's organic, it's good for bugs too.

                                                      But i don't really see the point . The bran layer and the germ of brown rice can prevent from losing anything when you only rinse it for a while.

                                                    2. When I was a kid, there was a new brand of rices claiming that you don't need to rinse it.

                                                      When I brought it , no one could stand the idea of not rinsing it, so we still keep our practices and the brand vanished soon. I think everyone likes to rinse it. ( just like the fact that i rinse everything I got from the wet market)

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: goute

                                                        Here is the skinny on all of this discussion.

                                                        American long grain rice Riceland Rice is enriched with vitamins and therefore, you should not rinse this rice. Any other rice in a bag, unless stated on the package, is not enriched with vitamins after milling and therefore should be rinsed mulitple times. These other rices have talc added so they don't stick and to keep the rice dry. Whether you rinse or not, when you add the proper amounts of water, you should swirl the mix and check for foreign debris (such as rice husks and bugs or bug parts) which will float. Of course, this foreign debris should be removed by hand or strainer if the rice is enriched. Remove this foreign debris by normal rice rinsing methods if the rice is not enriched. Besides foreign debris, there is also the starches from milling and the added talc (talc added to keep the rice dry and to ensure that it doesn't stick) that needs to be removed by rinsing. This is the substance that makes the water milky white. Keep rinsing until the water is almost clear. Procedure for rinsing is place the rice that you plan to cook in a pot, fill with water, swirl, pour off water and repeat until the water is almost clear. Then emty water and fill with correct amount of water for the amount of rice you are cooking.

                                                        Rice that comes in a box like Uncle Bens does not have to be rinsed, nor does prepackaged meals with rice like Rice Roni, Uncle Bens, Zatarains, etc. Instant rice in a box also does not have to be rinsed.

                                                        There is Extra Fancy Premium Sushi Rice (medium grain rice) that comes in bags that states "No Talc". This rice should be rinsed and you still need to check for foreign matter (but there most likely won't be any foreign matter in this rice. The difference with no talc rice is that you won't have to rince it as many times as the lower grades of medium grain rice.

                                                        Furthermore....besides rinsing the rice for foreign matter, rinsing it of starch and talc makes the rice cook more evenly and talc has some after taste.

                                                        Hope this answers all questions.