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Bug in My Basmati!

I keep my basmati rice in its original bag, with a clip holding it shut, inside a ziplock bag. I used up the last of the rice today. When I was rinsing it, I noticed that one grain of rice was black and immediately floated to the surface. It turns out this was not a grain of rice at all, but a miniscule (dead) beetle! It must have been packaged with the rice, because it certainly didn't come from around here. Is this normal? I can't bring myself to prepare that rice and will have to open a new bag (and get a new Ziplock bag). Am I over-reacting?

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  1. I can see one through the plastic of my unopened bag too! I just bought it two hours ago! Is this some kind of Indian seasoning secret?

    1. I don't think you're overreacting. The same thing happened to me with a container of Basmati and I took it back to the store and got another. I couldn't stomach it.

      1. Insects in stored grain are ugly but completely harmless. Wash the rice before cooking, cook, eat, enjoy.

        1. Rice is a plant. Plants have bugs. Rinse thoroughly. Brought home a head of organic broccoli from the farmers' market yesterday. Took it out of the bag and a humungous spider scurried out. Par for the course with naturally-raised produce.

          6 Replies
          1. re: pikawicca

            I have a really bad case of arachnophobia... I am supposed to take medication for it but as it would mean taking meds for the rest of my life I won't take them. If that happened to me I think I'd be off food forever!

            1. re: pikawicca

              I live in SW FL...bugs are the natives and we are NOT...so I keep my rice in the fridge, all rice, brown, basmati and long-grain white rice and it works for me.

              1. re: Val

                I live in Calgary, where we're two weeks away from summer but it still snowed almost all day yesterday. I never see bugs around here- and I live across from a playing field and beside a farm.

                1. re: Val

                  Same here - along with polenta, flour and cornmeal (thank God I have an extra fridge!). Not only bugs, but humidity.

                2. re: pikawicca

                  Somehow the spider in the broccoli thing is totally different for me. I expect my food from the farmers market to have bugs on it (if it didn't, I'd wonder what they were using). I don't expect my sealed, unopened rice to have an ugly brown bug of unrecognizable species in it.

                  1. re: MrsCheese

                    Really? I'm totally opposite- if it's alive, like pika's, that broccoli is now one big, disgusting spidey-town (I mean really, it probably laid a gazillion baby spiders in there!!! no, no, no!!)
                    A dried up bug? Pluck it out and keep going. It may skeeve me for a few minutes but I'll get over it...

                3. Three of the last four bags of basmati I’ve purchased over the past year came with extra protein. All were quality brands from a good store. Two were better than average rice and given the rice shortage, I wasn’t about to trash them.

                  I put each bag in the freezer for a week and then let the bag come back up to room temperature. I then spread the rice out on a clean surface and sorted out all of the foreigners. The rice was then rebagged in a quality zip-up bag. I have not noticed any re-infestation in last 8 months but I do go through any rice I’m using like I would dry beans looking for anything I may have missed.

                  Just remember to wash it off. As Madhur Jaffrey said in one of her articles, “You must remember that aged basmati has lain on a floor for a couple of years with the local Indians walking barefoot through it with a rake to stir it up”.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: OnkleWillie

                    Aged basmati???? Why? Aromatic rices like basmati are best consumed as close to milling after drying as possible.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      I think you have said this before, yet basmati (in South Asia) IS aged to accentuate its characteristics. Basmati is a strange beast among rices Here is an explanation on a commercial site as to why its aged - I didnt have time to locate any research sources.


                      1. re: jen kalb

                        Not sure what is going on with that. All rice is dried to 14% prior to husking and milling. Too wet or too dry and you get a lot of broken grain. By the time the whole grain registers 14%, what ends up as milled rice is already drier.

                        In India, the best tasting and most aromatic basmati was always the "freshest" after normal drying, husking, and milling.

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          I wonder whether you will find Indian culinary experts taking that view.. The things I have read are all consistent with the link I sent you. Basmati is a very dry rice (preferentially) and the length of the rice grain is key in the aesthetics of the food.Id beinterested in any more into you find.

                  2. I understand, but I figure that's why I'm rinsing and examining the rice, so I would use the cleaned rice anyhow (and have done so).

                    1. I hate to break it to you, but absolutely every grain you've ever eaten that you didn't produce yourself was siloed with bugs at some point in its delivery to your house. Modern production methods usually filter them out, but it's not uncommon to find one.

                      I've had a problem with LIVE bugs in dried noodles a time or two, always made in China or Korea. Once, they created quite the colony in my cabinet, spreading to a box of Italian penne. Talk about ick.

                      But, you know, you eat peanut butter, I bet. It's really true that (minuscule) bits of critter get ground up in that product.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: dmd_kc

                        Re: Peanut Butter

                        But... but... but... I'm a vegetarian!

                        1. re: Jetgirly

                          I was, too, for 17 years.

                          Ignorance is bliss.

                          Trust. You'll survive.

                        2. re: dmd_kc

                          No, modern rice production doesn't include filtering. Rice is dried to 14% moisture, husked and milled in one operation and bagged. There are generally no stoage weevils in the processed rice. Insects can enter into the bagged milled rice - but pose no real problem other than aesthetic.

                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                            I read somehere they come from eggs that are already present. I've had the same thing happen to corn meal and flour, plus jasmine rice that comes from Thailand.

                            1. re: James Cristinian

                              Insect eggs mixed in with unhusked rice do not survive milling. Insects might enter if the milled rice is stored in bulk - but they prefer rice before milling. Thai rice processing is state of the art - no reason their rices should be associated with any contamination.

                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                We got one bag from a place we usually don't shop, and a brand we usually don't buy. I persuaded my wife to buy one from a close by Korean market instead of going to Houston's sprawling, prosperous, "Chinatown," which is really a mixture of everything Asian. She'd been buying this rice for years since before we got married. I hadn't been there in quite awhile, and couldn't believe the size of it. People may not think of Houston and Asian, but we are there, very much a huge plus for our city.

                              2. re: James Cristinian

                                me too. flour beetles manage to get in there somehow - Ive opened new jasmine rice and every other kind of rice and flour bags and there they are.

                          2. To be honest, I'd be surprised if a bag of rice didn't come with at least a couple of bugs (and a couple of pebbles and some weed seeds) in it. Not to frighten you, but it's just something I have come to expect.

                            1. My desire for rice was stronger than my fear of miniscule beetles. Just. So I ate the rice from the new bag. I tried to re-find the little bug I'd seen, but I couldn't. I'll be extra-cautious as I eat my way through the bag. I usually get my basmati from the bulk bins at the health food store and haven't noticed this problem before. I just moved close to an Indian grocer and both the bags I've bought there have had bugs. Alas.

                              As an aside, I don't think it would be such a big deal if I didn't have such a bad case of arachnophobia (as well as other random bugs, with no discernible pattern as to what will make me freak out). When I see a spider I break into a cold sweat and start hyperventilating. In bad cases (big spider, nobody else around to deal with it) I will vomit and/or lose vision. I'm a pretty brave person (I hiked through the jungle in Honduras barefoot! I've fought off two attackers!) but bugs are "my thing".

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Jetgirly

                                -this is an easy context for desensitization since these bugs dont DO anything. These particular bugs (Im assuming they are black and skinny) are also found in flour dont do any particular damage to the rice and are not going to crawl out on you. There are two ways to reduce the number. One is to sieve the rice. That will reduce dust and debris, and bugs. The second is to wash the rice. I always wash my rice in several waters before using. I dont stop washing til the water becomes clear and there are no more bugs. Basmati likes being washed -soaked before cooking anyway.

                              2. I guess now is a bad time to tell you every loaf of bread has at least some milled insect in it.

                                1. Get over it.

                                  Or get over never eating rice again.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    "Or get over never eating rice again." Or anything else.

                                  2. Get over the beetle thing.
                                    You're probably eating more beetles than you think. "Natural" red dye is made from ground up beetles and is in many everyday foods and costmetics like the red lipstick you wear.

                                    1. I live in Florida, where a bug is our state bird!

                                      We're at that time of year where we expect to see small outbreaks of bettles in things like flour and rice.

                                      The worst I've ever seen are in bags of dried chili's, and once, an entire can of smoked paprika was 3/4 full of beetles.

                                      We have to very vigilant about inspecting the pantry.

                                      1. Growing up, mom would always store the rice in an airtight pail of sorts (a true 'fan toung') for fear of bugs and mice getting in. This is my method for never having bugs in rice:
                                        Upon picking up a bag of store bought rice, make sure you get a dry and black-speckled free one. Empty the entire bag into a separate container and get rid of the packaging (has probably been through many a warehouse, plane, or crate which has many points of contamination). And the packaging normally freaks me out - would rather the rice be in a sterile container. At the same time I inspect it to see if I really need to return the rice to the store. I also use a pet food container that's perfectly sealed (they advertise ant-free) it's perfect.

                                        3 Replies
                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                            Since you're boiling the rice, anything live in there is going to die, anyway, right? :)

                                            When we lived in Arizona we had those little black bugs worm their way into everything - rice, flour, sugar... no matter what I did. But I always saw them in the rice, so I don't think I ever accidentally ate them.

                                            Anyhow, my mother-in-law (who lives in India) showed me how to make Basmati - it involves soaking the rice a bit, then putting it in a sieve and running a lot of water through it to wash it, and THEN boiling it. I'm pretty sure any germs or bugs will be washed away and killed during that process.

                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                              aww mei toung, you got it right - it's technically mei before fan, eh? my chinglish is failing me....