Make Do-It-Yourself Instant “Minute” Rice
Use your dehydrator to convert your favorite cooked rice (Basmati, Jasmine, Parboiled, White, Brown, Black, Arborio, etc.) to “instant” rice. Commercial Instant rice is made by using several methods. In the most common method, the rice is blanched in hot water, steamed, and rinsed. It is then placed in large ovens for dehydration until the moisture content reaches about twelve percent or less.
The basic principle involves increasing moisture of the milled white rice by using steam or water to form cracks or holes in the kernels. The fast cooking properties come from the fact that, when re-cooked, water can penetrate into the cracked grain much more quickly.
Precooking and dehydrating rice is a great way to make flavorful and fast cooking rice for convenience mixes. Boxed instant rice adds very little nutrition or flavor to meals and regular rice takes too long to cook for a fast, convenience meal. So when I fix a big meal that includes a pot of rice, I dehydrate the leftovers and use this for my convenience meals. It really comes in handy in the following instances:
- Because dehydrated rice is already cooked and allows you to it to make instant rice that is rehydrated in minutes instead of cooking for +20 minutes every time you make a rice dish, you have major time-savings,
- Shelf stable storage of cooked rice as opposed to freezing bags,
- No waste of dinner leftovers,
- Less expensive, more flavorful instant rice than what you can buy in instant rice,
- Making dry packs for camping/backpacking, or pantry storage,
- Having rice side dishes and meals that rehydrate/cook in a matter of minutes,
- Unlike commercial “instant” rice, you keep more of the nutrients and original flavor of the rice itself without any added “stuff” you don’t want in your food,
- You have all the different varieties of rice at your disposal for your convenience mixes instead of just the few instant rice selections on the shelf of your local grocery store.
I started dehydrating my leftover rice into instant rice in April, 2015. It worked wonderfully but one of the members of the dehydrating group from the UK brought up the issue of food poisoning from reheated rice. He was kind enough to supply me with the information. I took that information and researched further.
Uncooked rice can contain spores of Bacillus cereus, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning. When the rice is cooked, the spores can survive. If the rice is left standing at room temperature, the spores can grow into bacteria. These bacteria will multiply and may produce toxins (poisons) that cause vomiting or diarrhea. The longer cooked rice is left at room temperature, the more likely it is that the bacteria or toxins could make the rice unsafe to eat.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and the National Food Processors Association (NFPA), the suggestions below are good examples of how to destroy B. cereus:
- Steaming under pressure, roasting, frying, and grilling foods can destroy the vegetative cells and spores of Bacillus cereus.
- Foods infested with the diarrheal toxin is inactivated by heating for 5 minutes at 133°F.
- Foods infested with the emetic toxin needs heat to 259°F for more than 90 minutes. Reheating foods until they’re steaming is not enough to kill the emetic toxin.
To keep a safe temperature level for dehydrating rice, my research told me that the rice must be kept above 140°F/60°C. Spores are activated by heat and or improper handling; the US 2001 Food Code recommends that hot foods be maintained at a temperature of 140°F or above. I have run a few experiments at 145°F/65°C in a preheated dehydrator, using hot, pressure-cooked rice to support temperatures. This is the ticket for safely dehydrating rice.
I have communicated, at length, with the National Center for Home Food Preservation. They will neither “confirm nor deny” that if we dehydrate at a temperature above 140°F/60°C that our rice will be safe from activating the Bacillus cereus spores found in all rice products. So, I will preface these instructions with this warning. If you feel that this is not for you or have health issues that are compromised by this process, do not attempt processing dehydrated rice for yourself and your family. It is important that you feel SAFE.
Preparing the Rice
I usually rinse my rice in a few changes of cold water. Some mills outside the U.S. use talc as a milling aid, so it’s an important step for imported rice. It will rinse off any dusty starch on the surface of the rice along with any leftover chaff or stray particles as well. The rinsing also removes loose starch, making the rice less sticky. Some rice has a more starchy coating than others, and can stick badly when dehydrating, so performing this preparation step is ideal to removing the starch. Soaking makes the grains less brittle and prone to breakage and is also traditional for basmati rice, as it helps the rice expand to maximum length.
- Empty rice into a strainer or colander, then put your strainer into cool water to soak the rice. Soak it for 10 minutes, then thoroughly rinse the rice.
- Repeat step 1 until the water is clear.
- Drain the rice. Be sure to drain your rice thoroughly or you’ll be using more water in cooking than you intended.
Cooking the Rice
- Boil your water for the rice for 10 minutes. This allows for purity of the water to add to your rice.
- Measure the amount of rice specified on the package into a saucepan. Pour in the amount of boiling water called for. Do NOT add oil or fat of any kind to the rice. Stir once.
- Turn the heat all the way down and cover the pan tightly with a lid.
- Cook on the lowest heat possible for the time specified by the rice instructions (anywhere from 15-45 minutes depending on the type of rice) without uncovering the pan.
- Use a fork to fluff up the cooked rice.
Pressure Cooking Rice (Safest Method)
Since the NIH specified pressure cooking kills the spores, I have been pressure cooking my rice. Since this also drastically cuts the cooking time, it is a win-win situation. I use my pressure canner/cooker to do this, but you could use any pressure cooker or Instant Pot to make the same results. Follow manufacturer directions.
- Position the cooking rack in the bottom of the pressure cooker and pour in 1/2 cup boiling water.
- Put the rice and water specified by the package directions in a stainless steel bowl that fits inside the pressure cooker.
- Use handles made out of aluminum foil under the insert to help place and remove the bowl from the cooker.
- Lock the lid in place and bring to 15 psi, reduce the heat to the lowest setting that will just keep up that pressure.
- Cook for the time specified by the chart below.. Remove from heat and let the pressure drop naturally.
- Open the lid and remove the bowl from the cooker, and fluff rice with a fork before serving.
Pressure Cooking Times Chart
InstaPot Pressure Cooking instructions coming soon!
- Preheat your dehydrator at 145°F/65°C.
- Immediately upon completion of rice cooking, load trays using a gloved hands and a spatula in an even layer as flat as possible. I recommend lining your trays with a removable mesh liner or parchment paper.
- Put them into PREHEATED dehydrator for 8-24 hours depending on the variety of rice and dehydrating conditions. Rice will look translucent and not sticky when it is completely dry.
- Use gloves to unload trays and package up rice.
♦ Store white rice in a Mason jar for up to 2 years.
♦ Whole-grain brown, red, or black rice deteriorates faster than white rice because of the oils in its natural bran layer which can turn rancid. When stored in an airtight container, whole-grain rice has a shelf life of 6 months. To make it last longer, stash it in the refrigerator or freezer.
♦ Vacuum sealing the jars for long-term storage will give you a shelf life of 4-5 years if stored properly.
- To reconstitute your rice, a ratio of 1 part water to 1 part rice is usually enough.
- Boil water for the rice for 3-5 minutes.
- Add rice grains and cover.
- After 5 minutes your rice should be sufficiently rehydrated. Fluff with a fork.
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