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Reviving rice. February 6, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, wit and wisdom.
Tags: , , , , ,

Silence Dogood here. How do you keep takeout rice—or leftover home-cooked rice, for that matter—plump and moist, instead of the rock-hard, crunchy/gluey block you tend to find stored in the fridge with your leftovers the next day? Leftover rice is so convenient, since you can warm it up with your leftover Chinese or Indian or Thai or whatever. But eeewww, who wants to eat rice like that?

I think the key is to take a tip from storing homemade rice. I find storing cooked brown rice easiest; it seems to stay moist and plump forever. If I make extra white rice with the intention of refrigerating some for later meals, I tend to deliberately add just a touch more water while I’m cooking it—just a tablespoon or two, not enough to make it mushy, but a precaution against drying out. Brown or white, I store leftover rice in a Pyrex glass dish with a tight-fitting lid. I think this is the actual secret to keeping leftover rice soft and moist, even in the fridge. Then, warm it up, covered (with a glass lid or aluminum foil), in a 250-degree oven, and eat it as soon as it’s heated through.

So, what to do about takeout rice? First, the instant you’ve served up the first helping, get the leftovers out of those paper boxes and into your Pyrex dish, break up the block with a fork and distribute the rice evenly in the container, then make sure the lid is tightly on. Leave it on the counter, preferably under a dishtowel to retain heat, until you’re sure nobody wants more. Then open the lid, sprinkle on a tablespoon or two of water, shake gently, replace the lid tightly, and, once the rice is room temperature, put your container in the fridge. When you want to reheat the rice, use the oven at 250, just as with homemade leftover rice.

Could you nuke refrigerated leftover rice and restore its original softness and texture? You tell me; I don’t have a microwave.

Could you leave it out on the counter rather than putting it in the fridge and maintain the original texture? I haven’t tried this, and would never consider trying it with anything but plain white rice in a very cold winter kitchen (such as ours); other rices have too much oil to leave out, and a hot or even warm kitchen could become a breeding ground for bacteria. If you’ve tried this, I’d like to hear from you as well.

If you open your fridge and confront the dreaded block of rice, you can salvage some of it (after removing the dry, crunchy parts from the outside of the block) to add to soups or bean-and-rice dishes. But how much better to be able to use your plump, soft, leftover rice anyway you want, and for as many days as you want. (Within reason, obviously, but who wants to eat rice every single day? Actually, now that I think of it, that doesn’t sound so bad…)

Final tip: I love my rice cooker. These inexpensive (as in $19) kitchen essentials turn out perfectly cooked rice, white, brown, or any exotic combination, effortlessly every time. It’s a real workhorse in my kitchen.

‘Til next time,




1. quarteracrehome - February 6, 2014

I just rinse my rice in warm water, strain, and microwave for 20-40 seconds. This brings back most any rice.

Thanks, quarteracrehome!

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