Do you have to soak or rinse rice before cooking??

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I HATE soaking rice before I cook it; yet, I know it is a necessary step to making the perfect basmati rice and other long grain rices. Soaking rice has been done for thousands of years in both Asian and Mediterranean cultures. I remember “the soaking rice” in both my mother and grandmother’s kitchens. But, I really never researched WHY it is done until now and decided to share it with all of you.

Rinsing and soaking are two completely different processes for rice cooking.

Rinsing is traditionally used for “cleaning” the rice. It is best used when the rice contains impurities such as talc, dirt, bugs, and polishing powders. Depending upon the country of origin, the rice may have heaps to no impurities. Some people rinse the rice in place of soaking, but many experts argue that rinsing is not a substitute for soaking.

Soaking rice is part of the actual cooking process. Some recipes and certain types of rice MUST be soaked. Soaking the rice reduces phytic acid (a naturally occurring chemical that may affect mineral absorption in people who eat rice). Phytic acid is sometimes referred to as an “anti-nutrient” because it may actually bind to certain minerals that you eat at the same time with the rice such as iron, calcium, copper and zinc. Phytic acid prevents their absorption.  Soaking the rice can increase the bioavailability of the minerals in the rice and what you are eating with it. Soaking rice also makes it lighter in texture, and reduces cooking time. Finally, soaking helps remove impurities that may have been absorbed onto the surface layer of rice during processing, transportation, and/or storage.

But is it worth the extra work and trouble to soak your rice??  Nutrition-wise I would say maybe…but from a cooking perspective I would say definitely yes!!! Rice is probably not your primary source of calcium, iron, copper and zinc in general. You can obtain all of those minerals from dairy products or vegetables. Mineral deficiencies from excess phytic acid are more common in people from developing countries and in people who eat a very large amount of beans, nuts and unprocessed grains every meal (and avoid meat and dairy). However, in terms of cooking, if you would like the perfect, fluffy long grain rice….soaking it is the way to go!!

Finally, the type of rice definitely plays a role, and enriched white rice should NOT be rinsed or soaked. That is because the rice grains are dusted with a nutrient rich powder which is easily washed away with rinsing or soaking. About 70% of the rice used in the US is enriched so be sure to check the label.

I am still going to continue the tradition of soaking my rice before I cook it. Do you soak your rice?? If not, would you be interested in trying it?


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16 Responses to “Do you have to soak or rinse rice before cooking??”

  1. JenNo Gravatar Says:

    I had no idea why rice needed to be soaked. Thank you for informing me! I will start to soak my rice every time I eat it from now on (unless I eat enriched white rice).
    jenwellnessforlife.blogspot.com

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  2. MaryNo Gravatar Says:

    I’ve not heard of this before, and my Italian grandma never soaked her riso. Will have to try it, though!

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  3. Natalie @ will jog for foodNo Gravatar Says:

    I’ve never soaked rice, just rinsed…thanks for the tip!!

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  4. MomNo Gravatar Says:

    I always wash and soak my rice. I mainly use short grain rice (Egyptian rice). I soak it in boiled water from 15 minutes to an hour or so and I believe soaking it is part of the cooking processes. My rice is always fluffy and delicious. I read once that basmati rice should not be soaked otherwise the grains will break, so I only wash basmati rice before cooking it.

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  5. Wendy IreneNo Gravatar Says:

    I had no idea you were supposed to soak rice first! Thanks for letting me know. How long do you soak it for? I’m going to share this on my Facebook page. Thank you for your sweet comments on my blog. I really appreciate them :) Have a great night!

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  6. Gerry SpeirsNo Gravatar Says:

    Very interesting regarding the treatment of rice. Love the site and all your doing.

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  7. MicheleNo Gravatar Says:

    Thanks for stoppin by my website! Let me know how the chocolate cake turns out! :)

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  8. Magic of SpiceNo Gravatar Says:

    Great article, and very informative!

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  9. eatlovedrinkNo Gravatar Says:

    Maybe that’s why my basmati never has quite the right texture…

    How long do you soak it for?

    Thanks for the tip!

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    Suzy EatsNo Gravatar Reply:

    I usually soak for about 30 minutes. Hope that helps :-)

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  10. Karen PeekNo Gravatar Says:

    Have you ever made sticky rice? I went to Thailand and loved theirs and want to make it but it is sooo time consuming. If you have made it, do you know of any easy way of making it?

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    Suzy EatsNo Gravatar Reply:

    Hi Karen, I have never made sticky rice on its own but I have made it for sushi. I usually buy short grain or medium short grain. I definitely do not soak it because the starch helps it stay sticky. I use about 1 cup of rice with 1.5 cups of water and cook it like other rice. I think put 1/4 cup rice vinegar and 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt and cook that separately. Once the rice is cooked I let it sit for about 10 minutes and then fold in the rice vinegar/sugar mixture. It is definitely sticky for the sushi….Let me know if you try it….not sure if it will taste the same tho :-)

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    Karen PeekNo Gravatar Reply:

    Thank you so much. I will try this.

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  11. Marlyne McClellandNo Gravatar Says:

    This was a great post! Looking forward to more of your other posts.

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  12. MikeKNo Gravatar Says:

    Brown rice should be soaked for at least 1 hour and white rice should be soaked for at least 30 minutes.

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  13. JayNo Gravatar Says:

    This is a great article. Another benefit of soaking rice is that it cooks quicker. My mother told me that when she was a little girl, her mother would soak rice for hours to minimize the gas used when cooking, back when every minute counts!

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