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Mar 19, 2010 07:40 AM

Are nutrients lost when you rinse or drain BROWN rice?

Hi everyone - I'm trying to maximize both health and flavor when cooking at home and brown rice is a staple for me. I'm trying to experiment with different ways of cooking brown rice, and typically, I never throw away the cooking liquid (this is sometimes a question when I par-cook the brown rice to use in more traditional white-rice dishes like paella).

I've found a couple references that suggest treating brown rice like pasta where you boil it in a larger quantity of salted liquid for a period of time, and then drain over the sink. and

When I cooked with white rice before, I had heard rinsing or draining the liquid would rid the rice of a lot of vitamins and nutrients. If I use one of the described methods above, am I similarly losing nutrients?

Thanks in advance, I'm always curious about some of the smaller science details with cooking and was wondering about this :-)

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  1. I'll leave the definitive answer for the rice experts, but I believe the prohibition against rinsing rice is only relevant when you're talking about enriched rice. To enrich rice, the packer coats the grains with a mixture of vitamins and minerals. Because the "enrichment" is on the rice rather than in it, rinsing can wash it away.

    Edited to Add: Just checked your profile - always good to see another Sacramento hound. I see you've been on the boards for a couple of months, but nevertheless, a belated Welcome!

    2 Replies
    1. re: alanbarnes

      w00t Sacramento!

      Have you tried the Massa Organics brown rice they sell at the Sunday Farmers Market? I grew up eating rice 6 out of 7 days of the week, and now after tasting this brown rice after recently moving here, I'm hooked!

      Thank for the tips!

      1. re: nasv

        I haven't braved the big farmer's market in quite a while, but may need to check it out again. We eat a LOT of white rice in my house, and subbing brown rice at least some of the time is probably a good idea. I'll definitely keep my eye out for the stuff from Massa.

    2. You're going to lose some nutrients when you rinse (what exactly is lost I'm not sure).

      That said, the minimal amount of nutrients or "stuff" that is thrown out with the proverbial bath water when you rinse rice won't make a significant impact on your diet, unless you are severely deficient in all aspects of minerals, vitamins, etc. and you need every last bit you can get from food just to meet minimal standards of survival. Most of us -- and hopefully you -- are not in the situation.

      The reason for rinsing rice is to make better rice. It produces a cleaner tasting rice and prevents clumping.

      So, yeah, rinse away and if you're paranoid about losing minerals and vitamins in the rice water, reserve it and use it for soup and stocks, or steaming your veggies.


      1. I often wonder what the reasoning is behind the instruction to cook rice, of any sort, in oceans of water. All my life I've cooked the white rices in a ratio of 1 cup rice to 2 cups water and brown rice with slightly more water and time at the simmer. All the water is absorbed by the rice and the finished product is cooked to fluffy perfection.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Gio

          Gio, the methods I cited above are totally new to me too, and thought they might be worth a try.

          Typically, I never used more than 2:1 ratio, water:rice. With my medium and short grain brown rice, I'm beginning to use less to let it steam do some of the cooking and prevent the rice from being mushy.

          I also really enjoy the brown rice cooked in open-vessel styles like for paella, delicious! I'm just trying to figure out the science now to effectively par-cook the brown rice so that when I add it to the other ingredients, the other ingredients don't over-cook. The good thing with this approach is that some of the extra boiling liquid that I would use in the par-cooking could then be the broth used in the paella (pan) or the cazuela.


          1. re: nasv

            Nico, thank you for your reply! I just read through your Feb. thread on making paella, etc., and now understand what it is you're trying to accomplish. Frankly, I think anything is worth a try to achieve the result you envision. And, brown rice is so very nutritious. I usually alternate between white rices and brown just to vary the meals but substituting brown for white rice probably will be my next venture. I'll be sure to keep close watch on this thread....

            Edited to add: Massa Organics has a great website plus instructions with reader comments on how to cook brown rice:

            1. re: Gio

              Yeah, the Massa site is cool! I actually made my first brown rice paella last night in a terra-cotta cazuela. WOW!!!!!!!!! It was amazing. The cooking duration did take a little longer than I had hoped, but the flavor was definitely there. I need to figure out the par-cooking a little better so that the timing works out.

              Thanks for the comments!

          2. re: Gio

            I do recall reading an article where they tried different methods for cooking brown rice. And they found that cooking it like pasta worked the best. I'm sorry, I don't remember where the article was. I cook other rices with the 2:1 ratio, but I find the 'pasta' method works better for brown.

            1. re: Gio

              If you boil the rice in lots of water, then drain off the extra water, the individual grains of rice will be more separate and less bound together by starch. Boiling is also very quick, so I sometimes use this method for basmati rice when making a quick indian meal. There's also a whole category of italian rice dishes that involve boiling arborio rice in lots of water (or stock), then draining and mixing with flavorings. The result is similar to risotto but the grains of rice remain separate rather than bound together in a creamy emulsion. I love arborio rice cooked this way! Especially with spring vegetables -- the light and fluffy texture of the boiled rice really works with spring flavors like lemon, peas and asparagus. I think there is one recipe of this type in Hazan's Essentials, but of course the concept is infinitely adaptable.

            2. Nasv, if you bake the brown rice, there's no water to discard. Alton Brown has a great baked brown rice recipe in case you are interested in this method, which I adore. The rice comes out fluffy every time for me.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Val

                Thanks Val, I am familiar (and I a huge AB fan)!

                I like that method for cooking the rice from start to finsh, and I like some of my stove-top methods as well. I'm now just experimenting a little with the brown rice :-)

              2. I would think, like vegetables, that if you boil it and rinse away the water, you'd lose some of the nutrients in the water (water your plants with it, at least) but, one reason I eat brown rice, is for the fiber and protein and those would remain in the grains. So, you'd probably lose some of the vitamin B's, manganese, etc (can't remember what else there is). But, if you're only rinsing, I don't think you'd need to worry about the loss.

                1 Reply
                1. re: chowser

                  Cool, this was my thought too (and I think that the broth or water ends up with some flavor details too!), and so I think I may do the boil-with-extra-liquid method when I can then re-use the broth... hello paella :-)