Jul 6, 2023
Anybody who has cooked rice knows it takes about 30-45 minutes to cook. It would be convenient to cook up a huge but, but it’s only good in the fridge for a few days. Also, other perishable items need cold storage space. So, here’s how to freeze dry rice, store it on your cool shelf, and have it ready for dinner in just 5 minutes.
Cooking the grain is both a science and an art. First, you have to measure the grains and water for consistency. But sometimes, even if you have the most accurate measurement method on the planet, it doesn’t come out the way you want it. Especially if you’re cooking it on the stovetop.
To make your life easier, use a rice cooker. It’s a lifesaver, especially if you’re going to cook a ton of it. But there are also cute little rice cookers that are good for 2-3 people tops.
When you use a rice cooker, use the cup that goes with it. Sure some packed grains have instructions, but you still need to measure the grains. The cup is designed exactly for that rice cooker. If you notice, some rice cookers have different-sized cups. Some have slightly smaller ones, and some have bigger ones. If you’re going to use a different cup, your water measurement’s going to be off.
Washing the grains is important because this helps take out excess starch that makes it gloopy. It also cleans the grains of any debris left from the milling process. To wash the rice, pour water until all the grains are fully submerged. Water should cover the grains up to 2 inches from the top.
Mix it around with your hand to encourage dirt and start to come out. Pour out the water, carefully straining to keep it from spilling out. Some prefer to wash their grains twice, and some three times. For us, that will depend on how white and starchy the grain is.
Long and short grains of rice need different water levels. Which is sometimes a challenge to get depending on how long the grains sat in storage or how dry the weather is. If you’re unsure how much water to use, add a little less. To measure the water, use the graduations inside the cooking pot. Then pour water until you get to a millimeter or two below the line.
For example, you measured 6 cups of grains. Add water until you’re a touch below the #6 level in the rice cooker pot. We do this because it’s easier to fix dry rice than a wet one. You can add more water if the rice is a bit dry, then let it cook a bit more. It’s hard to dry out wet rice because it forms a crust at the bottom the longer you cook it. If you mix it around too much, you’ll end up with an unappetizing pudding.
It’s okay to reconstitute fully cooked grain that’s a bit dry. But rice cooked with too much water turns mush when you reconstitute it.
If you don’t want to do the guesswork, use the Instant Pot. It’s a fully automated cooker that pressure cooks your rice, so you get the same consistency every time.
Cooking time depends on the type of rice as well. Short-grain ones cook faster than long-grains, but they can cook in 30-45 minutes in a standard rice cooker. Glutinous rice and brown rice often need twice the cooking time, which makes it smart to use the Instant Pot. The pressure lessens the cooking time considerably, so you have a healthier meal in minutes instead of two hours.
Pre-freezing is an option, but this can help shorten your freeze-drying time. When you put frozen food in the freeze dryer, you help maintain a steady, consistent temperature. If you put room-temperature food and trays in the freeze dryer, the unit will take longer to come to a freezing temperature.
To pre-freeze, fluff the grains first after cooking. This cools the grain faster and gives you more surface area. Place it on your freeze dryer trays but don’t pack it like you’re doing a sushi bake. Use a fork to spread it across the tray to keep it as loose as possible.
The process can take about 24-36 hours, depending on how you cook your rice. It’s one of the easiest food you can freeze dry and doesn’t require much effort.
Freeze-dried, it should be crispy, airy, and light, almost like rice crispies. If you feel any soft, wet, or cold grains, put the trays back for additional 2-5 hours of drying time.
Think of reconstituting as like cooking the grain. Don’t add too much water at the beginning. If you’re reconstituting a cup of rice, use 3/4 of a cup or 4/5. It’s better to add little than more when it comes to rice unless you want it wet and a bit soupy. Just like with cooking, adding more water is easier than removing extra.
If you have a microwave handy, you can pop your cooked grains in for 2-4 minutes. This, of course, will also cook the rice while heating so it might turn into mush. If you’re in a situation where a microwave or power isn’t available, let the freeze-dried grains steep for 5-10 minutes using hot or warm water.
Freeze-dried rice isn’t only for emergencies. It can help you prepare a satisfying meal in no time when you need it. For example, when you’re too tired or weak to cook or have unexpected guests who are crazy over it.
What’s your longest time cooking rice? Let us know in the comment section.
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