Save Money, Be Healthy – Store Brown Rice
Today let’s talk about how to store brown rice. We all know it’s good for us and that we need to incorporate it into our meal plans. The thing about brown rice is this – it quickly goes rancid if not stored properly.
That means that all the time, effort, and money that you put into this healthy food may be wasted it you don’t keep it fresh. How long has the rice on your grocer shelf been stored before you purchase it? Who knows!
Once you get a package of brown rice home you should immediately think about repackaging it using these guidelines.
Why is Brown Rice different?
The process that produces brown rice removes only the outermost layer, the hull, of the rice kernel and is the least damaging to its nutritional value. Unlike white rice, brown rice still has the bran and germ layer intact giving it a nutty flavor and rich texture. That’s the nutritious part.
The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids.
That high oil content of brown rice cause it to spoil pretty quickly in the pantry and is not recommended unless the entire package is going to be used within a couple of months. Most experts suggest that you can store it in your pantry for 3 to 6 months before you need to be concerned about rancidity.
To get the most from it you should store brown rice in a dry area in an airtight container. Your storage area should be out of bright light and kept at room temperature or cooler. I use my FoodSaver attachment and seal up canning jars.
This “working supply” of brown rice gets a date added to the side of the container and goes into the dark pantry.
If you have the space, the refrigerator is the best place to store brown rice and other high fat grains. You can expect it to keep fresh from 6 to 12 months. Some websites even go as far as suggesting a total of 16 months before spoilage.
The refrigerator’s cool temperatures and dark interior of your fridge prevent the oil in the bran layer from going rancid. You should transfer it to an airtight container and place it at the back of the fridge. The door, subject to constant opening and closing, allows for too many temperature changes.
You might consider using Mylar bags (This is where I get my Mylar bags), FoodSaver bags (Amazon), zip top plastic freezer bags, canning jars, or even recycled pickle jars (cleaned of course!) for this storage method. Just get as much air out of the container as possible.
Many people would like to purchase brown rice in bulk to save money, but they have trouble eating all the rice before it goes bad. A freezer is the best way to keep from wasting your big bag of rice and, because I have the space, the option I most often choose.
I like to make it easier to use by separating the freezer bags of rice into portion sizes. You can make each bag be the amount you would normally cook for a meal or you can make each bag a month’s worth of meals. Kept in the freezer, brown rice can be stored for up to 2 years.
Signs of Rancidity
Brown rice will become oily and may impart an off odor, both are signs of rancidity.
Rancidity is easily identified, and the nose provides the best early warning system. Both the aroma and flavor of rancidness are best described as acrid – sharp, bitter, stinging and irritating to nose and palate. Heat light and oxygen hasten rancidity, and susceptible foods should be stored in the refrigerator in tightly shut, opaque containers.
Rancidity is a form of spoilage that occurs in fats and oils and, therefore, in all foods that contains fats and oils. Rancid foods are unpleasant and not healthful, not only because they sicken the stomach, but also because they destroy the body’s own supply of vitamins B and E. These are the very nutrients many rancid-susceptible foods such as wheat germ and brown rice supply so generously when fresh. (source) Lawrence Journal World Feb 27, 1983.
The Bottom Line on Storing Brown Rice
Under the best of conditions, with cool temperatures below 70 degrees, vacuum packed, brown rice only has a pantry shelf life of 3 to 6 months.
- Repackage it as soon as you bring it home by putting it into the pantry in an airtight container in the.
- Extend the storage time by placing brown rice in an airtight bag in the refrigerator for up to 12 months
- Freezing brown rice in a sealed airtight container (like a FoodSaver bag or mylar bag) will extend the life for up to 2 years.
- You might want to portion the rice into smaller containers (like quart jars or something suitable) and freeze them until they can be used.
If you want your brown rice to last years, it will need to be packaged in the best method possible. The grocery store packaging doesn’t meet the criteria for long term storage. Strive for cool temperatures, very little light, almost no oxygen, and the proper storage containers. You can rest assured that the money and effort you’ve put into purchasing and packaging a bulk bag of brown rice will not go to waste.