Can you freeze uncooked rice?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you freeze uncooked rice?”, and how to freeze uncooked rice?

Can you freeze uncooked rice?

Yes, you can freeze uncooked rice. It is a great option if you bought rice in bulk and want to save them for a prolonged period. 

According to FAO statistics, 755,473,800.00 tonnes of paddy rice were produced in 2019. If we examine the production share of paddy rice by region (average, 1994–2019) we see that Asia produced 90.6% followed, at a great distance, by the Americas (5.2%), Africa (3.5%), Europe (0.6%), and Oceania (0.1%) (1).

Freezing extends the shelf-life of the White rice, Jasmine, and Basmati rice up to 30 years (4). If stored correctly, frozen brown rice can last as long as 8 monthslong 8 months  (5).as 18 years. The shelf life of brown rice is shorter than white rice at room temperature because of oxidation phenomena of lipids present in the germ and bran layers (1).

Lipase hydrolyzes fat in rice grains to fatty acid. When the activity level of lipase in rice grains is high, the amount of free fat acidity increases during storage. This increase in the amount of free fat acidity causes deterioration of the quality of rice (rancid rice) during storage. A study showed that during storage of rice for 4 years, the free fat acidity of rice stored at temperatures below 5°C was almost the same as that at the beginning of storage. However, the free fat acidity of rice stored at 25°C dramatically increased during storage (3).

The shelf-life of rice 

The following table shows an estimated shelf-life of different types of rice under different storage conditions (4, 5).

Type of riceAt room temperature In the freezer 
White rice 5 years Up to 30 years
Jasmine and Basmati rice4-5 years Up to 30 years 
Brown rice 43-6 months Up to 18 months 

How to freeze uncooked rice?

If the original package of rice is unopened, you need to simply repackage it in an air-tight container or freezer bag before freezing. To freeze the leftovers from an open package of rice, follow the instructions below (3).

  1. Transfer the rice into an air-tight freezer bag or container. Make sure the container or bag is completely dry.
  2. The seal of the air-tight container should be tight to block air, moisture, and entry of bugs. If you opt for a freezer bag, make sure to squeeze out as much air s possible.
  3. Label the bag or container before freezing. This helps in identifying the frozen product and helps keep track of its shelf-life.

How to store rice to prevent bugs?

In general, the moisture content of rice should be approximately 13% for storage to minimize respiration rates and mold growth, as well as to inhibit fungi and insect growth (7).

Bug eggs are not visible to the naked eye. And you are never sure if the rice contains bugs or not. Just to be on the safe side, freeze the rice below 0 degrees for a week to kill the bug eggs if there are any. Then you can keep them for prolonged storage. 

According to studies, refrigeration systems are frequently used to achieve temperatures of less than 18ºC which significantly reduces insect activity (8). 

You can accidentally introduce bugs into your eggs during storage. Therefore, safe storage is the key to bug-free stored rice. To make sure no bugs get into the rice during storage, follow the tips below.

  1. Whether glass, plastic, or steel, use air-tight containers with a tight lid to store rice. A flimsy lid will destroy rice quality by exposing it to moisture, air, and bugs.
  2. Bay leaves act as a natural insect deterrent. Just pop in a few bays leaves into your rice before you keep them for prolonged storage.
  3. To deter the insects, place chili around the area you store rice. Alternatively, you can place cloth-wrapped chili inside your rice containers.
  4. Store the rice in a clean and dry pantry.

What is the best way to store rice long-term?

Rice last longer if they are kept at a steady temperature of 40 °F (4 °C) or lower. If this temperature seems unachievable, you can also keep the rice at 70 °F (21°C). 

However, you need to aid this temperature by using oxygen absorbers to protect the rice from spoilage. Whether white or brown, freezing is a great way to extend the shelf-life of rice. The use of oxygen absorbers in a storage system has been related to retard the oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids (6).

A study showed that dry rice grains did not freeze even at a temperature of –80°C. There was therefore no need for concern about the freezing of rice stored at a temperature below ice point. Temperatures below -5°C (23°F) preserve the quality of rice at a much higher level than at higher temperatures (2).

What to do with frozen uncooked rice?

Saving your electronics 

Submerging your electronics in a tub of frozen uncooked rice may help save the device. The uncooked rice, due to its remarkable absorbent properties, removes the excess moisture from your waterlogged electronic device.

Hot/Cold compress

A makeshift compress with a sock full of rice can be used to relieve sore muscles or bruised skin. You can control the temperature of the sock by either freezing or microwaving it, depending upon what caters best to your needs.

Salsa rice

Grab a cup of salsa and about one cup of uncooked rice. Fill a pot with water. Then stir in the uncooked rice and salsa. Add as much or as little salsa as your taste buds like. 

Toss in chopped veggies at this point if you like. Bring everything to a boil. Remove from the heat when the rice is cooked. Salsa Rice is incredibly flavored and makes for a great burrito filling. You can also use them for making taco salad.

Stir fry 

Ingredients 

  • 1-2 cups of rice (depending on how many portions you are looking to make)
  • 1-2 cups of your preferred protein (chicken, tofu, beef, etc.)
  • 1 cup of chopped vegetables (fresh or frozen)
  • One teaspoon of sesame seed oil
  • One tablespoon of soy sauce

Instructions 

  1. Fill a pot with water and stir in the uncooked rice. Bring the water to a boil and cook until the rice is soft.
  2. Grease a skillet with some oil and cook the veggies and meat. Add some sesame oil, soy sauce, and another seasoning that you like.
  3. Cook the veggies and meat until thoroughly cooked.
  4. Serve with boiled rice and enjoy.

Other FAQs about Rice that you may be interested in.

How much water for half a cup of rice?

How to cook rice in the microwave for a single serving?

How to preserve rice

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question “Can you freeze uncooked rice?”, and how to freeze uncooked rice?

References

  1. Carcea, Marina. Value of wholegrain rice in a healthy human nutrition. Agriculture, 2021, 11, 720. 
  2. Kawamura, Shuso, Kazuhiro Takekura, and Kazuhiko Itoh. Rice Storage Controlled at Temperature below Ice Point for Preserving High Quality. IFAC Proceed Vol, 2001, 34, 101-106.
  3. Kawamura, Shuso, Kazuhiro Takekura, and Mio Yokoe. Freezing Temperature and Freezing Injury of Rough Rice, and Quality of Rough Rice Stored at Temperatures between–50° C and 25° C for Four Years. 2005 ASAE Ann Meet. Am Soc Agric Biol Eng, 2005.  
  4. Nummer, B and Darrington J. Storing white rice. Utah State University.
  5. Marrs, B. Storing Whole Grains. 2015. Iowa State University.
  6. Mir, Shabir Ahmad, et al. A review on nutritional properties, shelf life, health aspects, and consumption of brown rice in comparison with white rice. Cereal Chem, 2020, 97, 895-903.
  7. Tong, Chuan, et al. Impact of postharvest operations on rice grain quality: A review. Comprehen rev food sci food safe, 2019, 18, 626-640.  
  8. Barbosa, A., et al. Non-chemical alternative in rice storage: the use of refrigeration for insect control and quality maintenance of paddy rice. Proceedings of the Tenth International Working Conference on Stored Product Protection. 2010.