If you are someone that cooks rice often, you may have not encountered the problems with storing it. However, for people who want to store rice long-term without encountering such issues as bugs or humidity, doing it can be a real challenge.
So can you freeze uncooked rice? Freezing uncooked is the best way to extend the shelf life of rice and make sure that it stays bug-free. The key is storing it in airtight and dry packaging. All types of rice will last up to 30 years in the freezer except for brown rice, which will last up to 18 months in cold storage.
Continue reading to learn how to freeze uncooked rice and effectively store bulk rice so that it keeps well for decades.
Does Rice Go Bad?
While many sources will tell you that rice keeps for decades, which is true, the secret of making rice last that long is storing it in the right way.
No matter where you store it, the key things to remember when storing rice is that you should keep it somewhere dry and cool. Humidity will cause the rice to mold. Rice should also be stored somewhere with minimal light and oxygen,
Other ‘contributors’ to the spoilage of uncooked rice are rodents and bugs. Depending on where you live, rodents may not be something to worry about. Bugs, on the other hand, are always something to keep an eye on.
How to Store Rice to Prevent Bugs
You never know when there are bugs in your rice. Bug eggs may be in the rice before you bring it home or after you have bought it. Unlike the actual bugs, you can’t see their eggs.
To make sure those eggs don’t grow into something worse, simply put the rice in the freezer for a week before you store it anywhere else. Temperature below zero will kill the eggs in the rice if there are any.
Unfortunately, bugs in many cases can get into the rice after you bring it home. There are a few measures you can take to prevent them from destroying your product.
- Use airtight containers and seal them tightly. All glass, steel, and plastic containers will work so long as they have tight, sealable lids, and are food-safe.
- Put a couple of bay leaves in the rice containers to prevent bugs.
- Put dried chili peppers on the shelves where you keep rice. Alternatively, you can wrap them with a cloth and put it directly into the rice container.
- Keep the pantry clean and dry.
What Is the Best Way to Store Rice Long-Term?
If you want to store rice long-term, it is essential to provide the right conditions. The first thing to watch out for is the temperature. The recommended temperature to store rice is 40 °F (4 °C) or lower.
If you can’t provide a low temperature in the storage space for rice, you can keep it somewhere where the temperature is 70 °F (21°C). In this case, however, you will need oxygen absorbers to prevent the rice from deterioration.
So the best and probably the easiest way of storing rice long-term, be it white or brown rice, is putting it in the freezer.
Here is why freezing uncooked rice is recommended:
- Freezing will ensure that the rice is bug-free.
- You don’t have to worry about maintaining the right room temperature.
- You will prevent the rice from dust.
How to Freeze Uncooked Rice
Freezing rice is easy, especially if you bought it in an unopened box. Simply put the box in an airtight plastic bag and freeze.
If you have already used some of the rice or feel like you need to freeze a certain amount for later use, here is how to freeze the rest of your uncooked rice:
- Pour the rice into an airtight container or sealable plastic bag. Make sure the container or bag you are using is dry.
- If you are using a container, make sure the lid closes tightly. When using a plastic bag, remove as much air as possible.
- Label the container with the date. This is especially important when freezing brown rice as its shelf life is not as long as that of white rice.
- When using freezer bags, lay them flat in the freezer to facilitate the defrosting process later on.
How to Defrost Frozen Uncooked Rice
Unlike other products that require hours of thawing, defrosting rice is effortless. In fact, you don’t even need to do it if you are in a hurry to make your dinner.
However, if you do have time, it is always good to take the rice out of the freezer and let it sit on the counter for a while. This way, you will not have to cook with icy rice.
How Long Does Uncooked Rice Last?
Storage practices are the same for all rice varieties. You should keep rice away from humidity, too much light, and pests. If you provide the right conditions, rice will safely keep for up to three decades.
The only exception is brown rice. Its shelf life is considerably shorter compared to other rice varieties.
Here’s how long the most common types of rice will last depending on where you store them:
White rice will last for up to 5 years at room temperature and for up to a decade in the fridge. The freezer will extend the shelf-life of white rice for up to 30 years.
Jasmine and Basmati Rice
Jasmine and basmati rice are some of the most widely used rice varieties.
You can store jasmine, basmati, and a few other varieties in the fridge for a longer shelf life. However, providing the right storage conditions is enough for these rice varieties to keep for 4 to 5 years.
Similar to white rice, jasmine and basmati rice will also last for around 30 years in the freezer.
The shelf life of brown rice is shorter compared to other rice varieties. The reason for this is the oil in the bran layer of brown rice.
Stored at room temperature, brown rice will keep well for 3 to 6 months. If you want to extend its shelf life to up a year, keep it in the fridge.
Storing brown rice in the freezer is the best way of making sure that it will be good to eat for up to 18 months.
How to Store Bulk Rice
If you are wondering why anyone would want to store rice in bulk, here are a few reasons:
Firstly, it is easy to store and when stored in the right way, you can keep rice for years.
Secondly, it is good emergency food. Being high in carbs and pairing well with many foods, rice is very satiating. Last but not least, rice is generally quite affordable which makes it a great option to stock up on.
The only rice variety you should never rely on for emergency food is brown rice as it has a shorter shelf life.
There are a few ways you can store bulk rice. However, if you have bought rice in bulk for emergency food storage as well as everyday use, it is more convenient to set some of it aside for your daily cooking needs.
If you have a large freezer, it is best to divide bulk rice into smaller portions and store it in the freezer. To freeze a large amount of rice in smaller portions you can use plastic bags. It is best to use plastic bags that you can permanently seal with a special device or iron and foil.
If your freezer space is not enough, you will have to store rice at room temperature.
There are multiple methods of storing rice so that it keeps longer. From airtight plastic bags to pickling jars and soda bottles, you may come across numerous ways of doing it.
But here is a tried-and-true way of storing bulk rice using mylar bags:
How to Store Rice in Mylar Bags
- Divide the rice into portions. Fill mylar bags (foil pouches) with rice leaving a few inches from the top of the bag. We really like these mylar bags.
- Use oxygen absorbers to make sure you preserve the quality of the rice long-term. Put at least a pack of these in every pouch. For every kilogram of rice use around 3 to 5 100-cc oxygen absorbers. The number with ‘cc’ indicates how much oxygen each pack will absorb.
- Seal mylar bags using an iron or a special heat sealer for mylar bags. While sealing, try to push out as much air from the bag as possible.
- Put the bags with rice in a food-safe container. Make sure the container is clean and dry.
- Close the lid of the container and store it in a dry place where the temperature is consistent and around 68°F at all times. It is recommended not to put the bucket with rice directly on the floor.
- Label the container with the date.
If done correctly, rice stored in mylar bags will keep for around 30 years.