All About Rice: Tips, terms, and how to cook perfect brown rice

by Emily from Frugal Living NW on May 2, 2013

All About Rice: Everything you need to know about rice, including how to cook rice perfectly every time!

Welcome to our All About Rice series! Find more rice cooking tips, buying suggestions, and recipes here.

For as long as I can remember, I have always read the last few pages of a book first. I can’t help it. I like to know what to expect. It saves so much time and emotional energy. Oh, what’s that? The main character, who I am undoubtedly going to get attached to over the next 268 pages, dies? Well, I am now left with two choices: I can either ditch the book before wasting another minute or I can relax and read it, knowing I’m not going to be rocked by any major surprises.

My husband thinks this is cheating. I just think it is smart. And I hate to break it to him (not really), but science is on my side. Research show that “spoilers” (what an awful term) actually enhance one’s enjoyment of a book.

What’s that? You are wondering where I’m going with all of this? Well, it occurred to me as I spent the last 4 weeks sharing my favorite rice bowl recipes with you that I kind of skipped to the ending. I jumped to the last pages without talking about what each bowl had in common: THE RICE! So now that you know it has a happy ending (read all four Rice Bowl recipes for yourself), let’s get back to the first chapter and dive into the world of rice.

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Rice is inexpensive, delicious and split into three different sizes: short, medium, and long. Are you still with me? Good, because now that we have established that, let’s move to the exciting part. All the different varieties! Throughout the world, there are more than 40,000 different varieties of rice. For fear of losing you around #36,753, I’m just going to define some of the most common types and terms you’ll find in your local grocery store:

Arborio - This is an Italian short-grain rice with a high starch content, commonly used to make risotto because of its creamy texture and ability to absorb other flavors.

Basmati – A long-grain fragrant rice, originally from India, it is aged to increase aroma and decrease moisture. The dry, fluffy grains are light and separate, not sticky.

Black - This is an unusual whole grain rice that is black when dry, purple when cooked. It might also be referred to as “forbidden rice,” referring to when it was once reserved for Chinese emperors.

Brown – Rice where the hull has been removed, but the germ and bran layer are left intact. It can be eaten or milled into white rice. Brown rice takes longer to cook and has a shorter shelf life than white. It has a nutty flavor and chewy texture. The color is caused by the bran, which is high in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals.

Calrose (California Rose) – This medium-grain rice was originally developed in California. The rice is soft and sticky, making it popular for sushi.

Converted – This rice is steamed and dried before being hulled so some of the nutrients are absorbed into the rice grains. It somewhat balances the loss of the germ and bran from the milling process.

Instant – This rice has been pre-cooked and dehydrated before packaging. As the name implies, instant rice cooks much faster than traditional rice.

Jasmine - A long-grain rice originally from Thailand, it has a shorter grain and stickier texture than basmati.

Red – This is a beautiful, short-grain rice from Bhutan.

:: White - The most common form of rice, these varieties have had the outer husk removed and the bran layers milled (“polished”) until the grain is white. It has a milder flavor and lower nutritional value than brown rice.

And as if that wasn’t enough, I’m going to leave you with a fool-proof recipe for cooking brown rice. At least it passes the test for this fool. White, I can handle, but my brown rice never turned out quite right (aka crunchy on top, burned on the bottom) before I discovered this recipe.

Search high and low for perfect brown rice, and you’ll eventually click your way over to Saveur’s method. And for good reason. It is easy, and it works. The only change I made was to increase the amount of rice and decrease the amount of water. I have also read rave reviews about Alton Brown’s method for Baked Brown Rice. It looks just as simple and would be another great option. Has anyone tried this?

With either method, leftovers are a good thing. Cooked rice freezes beautifully for a future meal.

How to cook brown rice perfectly every single time -- totally foolproof instructions!

How to Cook Perfect Brown Rice

Adapted from a Saveur technique
Makes 4 cups of cooked rice

Ingredients

2 c. short, medium, or long-grain brown rice
12 c. water
salt, to taste

  1. Rinse the rice in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds. In a large, lidded pot, bring 12 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, stir it once, and boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Pour the rice into a strainer over the sink.
  2. Let the rice drain for 10 seconds, then return it to the pot, off the heat. Cover the pot and set it aside to allow the rice to steam for 10 minutes. Uncover the rice, fluff with a fork, and season with salt. Eat immediately or cool and freeze in bags or containers.

cook

Truth be told, though, I have my heart set on a digital rice cooker. And this is coming from someone who really hates collecting appliances. I prefer simple tools over monstrous pieces of equipment that only have one use. However, I know enough people who use their rice cookers regularly and love them. I think I would, too. Amazon carries rice cookers in a variety of styles with a wide range of prices. This Aroma Rice Cooker and Food Steamer is under $30.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Carrie @ My Favorite Finds May 29, 2013 at 9:21 am

Very helpful! Thanks for sharing at Pinworthy Projects.

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Miz Helen May 26, 2013 at 9:50 am

Wishing you a peaceful Memorial Day Weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
Come Back Soon!
Miz Helen

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Skye May 9, 2013 at 2:51 pm

Thanks for the comments. I do cook white, bown, and jasmine (my fav) in the microwave. I use a tupperware steamer but not crazy about that due to possible BPA. I also want to cook for my three dogs. I try to be healthy but every day it is something else….arsenic, bpa, etc Can make a person crazy!

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Laurie May 6, 2013 at 4:42 pm

I have the exact same rice cooker you have pictured here and absolutely love it! I don’t cook rice on the stove any more. I cook brown rice in it and don’t have to worry about it sticking to the pan. Comes out nice and fluffly every time. I purchased mine on sale at Target for $28.00.

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Eliza May 5, 2013 at 7:28 pm

The Pampered Chef sells a microwave rice cooker that I love for white rice (not so much for brown). Skye – no teflon there!

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Karen S. May 3, 2013 at 7:08 am

I cook any type of brown rice in the microwave in a covered, large casserole dish (large is best to reduce sticky boil-over). One part rice to two parts cold water, then cook for 10 minutes. Check how close the rice is to being done, then cook a few more minutes as needed. It often boils over, but it always cooks perfectly, never burned or crunchy. I make extra for the freezer.

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Emilie May 2, 2013 at 8:24 pm

I love love love Alton Brown’s baked brown rice recipe!!! A no-fail way to create awesome brown rice that totally reheats well!

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charolyn May 2, 2013 at 6:24 pm

I am not a fancy cook-but have perfected cooking 1/2 brown-1/2 white rice mixture in a rice cooker (developed because my husband and son love white-but do fine with the mixture-so I have at least improved their diet-I myself love brown & would do it 100%):
start the brown first-twice as much water as rice-cook for maybe 15-20 min-I just look when the water starts to absorb-but still is plenty left.
Then I gradually add the water for the white rice (just a little more than even with the amount of rice)-so it is boiling-or at least hot-isn’t an exact science-then stir in the white, so it mixes.
Then I just let it go until the rice cooker is done. Really quite easy. The only problem can be if you forget & the brown is nearly done before you add the white. One time I added the white first-that doesn’t work well (old distracted brain :-)

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charolyn May 2, 2013 at 6:25 pm

For the white-we use the calrose rice-great in the cooker.

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Jen S May 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm

I make my rice in the oven so I don’t have to babysit the stove.

3 c boiling water
1 1/2 c long-grain white rice – can use brown rice**
1 1/2 tea salt

Stir into a casserole (I use non-stick spray), cover tightly with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 min. Fluff and serve.

**bake brown rice for 40-45 min.

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Ruth P May 2, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I have a small rice cooker–bought at uwajamiya in Beaverton–they have lots of models and sizes. Mine has a steaming basket so you can cook rice and veggies at the same time. I love it–especially for brown rices.

I buy my rices at Winco. They have lots of kinds and so I can sample and get just as much as I want.

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Lorilyn Tarr May 2, 2013 at 2:14 pm

I read somewhere to soak the rice overnight like you do beans. I admit, I don’t always have time for that, but when I DO take the time……….tender wonderful results!! Apparently the germination process makes the rice release more phytochemicals and thus makes it more nutritious? Not sure, but I do think everyone should try it at least once to see if they can taste the difference!! :-)

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Leanne May 2, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Skip the rice cooker…The method you described above, is how I now prepare all of my rice. I am a celiac – no gluten, so I eat a lot of rice. I have read a few articles on high levels of arsenic in rice… I think one is from consumer reports??? It made suggestions on how much rice one person should eat in a week (because of arsenic levels). Rice chex, rice cakes, rice bowl, rice with dinner – it can add up in a week. One article said if you add a lot of extra water (as in your method) and pour it off you can eliminate 30% of the arsenic levels tested in your rice. Just sharing this information so that those people interested can research this.

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charolyn May 2, 2013 at 6:20 pm

Where does the arsenic come from ?

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jen May 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm

It’s naturally occurring arsenic from the ground/water patties used to grow rice.

Dr Oz has done segments on it too.

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tia May 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Definately go with the rice cooker! I had only ever made instant rice successfully before I got mine. Now we have rice at least once a week and it always turns out perfectly!

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Cheryl May 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm

We got a rice cooker as a white elephant gift. It isnt digital. You add stuff in odd amounts and seem to wait forever. I have never waited for it to “pop up” and say it is done. I guess when you buy cheap, you get cheap. If I ever talk myself into buying another I will buy something fancier.

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Skye May 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Anyone know of a rice cooker that doesn’t have teflon interior? Thanks.

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SWinWA May 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Hello Skye,

I too have been wanting a rice cooker with a stainless steel insert as I don’t cook in anything with Teflon. I went to Amazon and typed in Stainless Steel Rice Cookers and they carry a few different brands with different sizes, options, prices, etc.

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