Rice is one of the most mass-produced, versatile food in the world. When it comes to everyday meal staples that most people love, it can be hard to top rice. It is an immensely popular food and is consumed in majority of households.
Global consumption of rice has seen a slight increase over the last several years. About 509.87 million metric tons of rice was consumed worldwide, with Americans consuming 4.6 million metric tons of rice in the 2021-2022 fiscal year 1.
Each country enjoys this low-cost starchy grain as a signature rice dish in one form or the other. These special rice dishes represent the regional flavors and spices: Be it commonly loved Peas rice in India, Biryani that originated from Persia – now relished all over the world, Risotto in Italy, Paella in Spain, Jambalaya in the southern U.S., Rice and Beans in Mexico, Sweet Sticky Rice in Thailand and luscious creamy Rice Pudding from Asia. Although the cooking techniques differ, we can all agree that rice is invariably enjoyable.
You might be wondering why you need to wash your rice before cooking it. After all it is just a grain of rice and how dirty can it really be? The truth is rice can be quite dirty. It is often grown in fields that are full of pests and other unwanted critters. And once it is harvested, it can be stored in dirty warehouses or contaminated in other ways. Washing your rice before cooking it helps to remove any dirt, debris, or contaminants that may be on it. This ensures that you are getting the cleanest, safest, and most delicious rice possible.
DO NOT BE CONFUSED ABOUT WASHING VS SOAKING
You are probably aware of soaking rice before cooking it. But washing and soaking have different functions and cannot be used interchangeably. Both washing & soaking are distinct in their purposes and are necessary.
Washing removes dirt and excessive starch, whereas soaking reduces the total cooking time. According to the Food and Drug Administration, rice absorbs more arsenic than other grains during farming. So, washing helps us in getting rid of arsenic in considerable amount.
It is advised to soak rice for at least 30 minutes in water after washing the grains as stated above. Throw away the water and continue cooking the rice as usual after 30 minutes.
6 REASONS TO WASH RICE
When cooking rice, people often indulge in a debate, i.e., whether they should wash rice before cooking or not. Many people do wash the rice before cooking. And if you find it weird and wonder, why do you need to wash rice before cooking? We have 6 simple facts that will compel you to start washing them if you do not already!
1. Gives you fluffier rice
Uncooked rice has a layer of starch that makes the rice sticky and gummy. Sometimes you might want mushy rice with a sticky texture, but it is not always the case. So, if you want the cooked rice to be fluffy and every grain to be apart, wash the rice a couple of times. It will give you fluffier rice with a less gummy texture.
2. Removes impurities
Washing rice is a wonderful way to remove impurities from the rice. You can get rid of debris, dried husk, etc.
3. Removes chemicals
Packed and refined rice is usually treated with chemicals to prolong its shelf life. Rice is also a carrier of a major naturally occurring toxin in the form of arsenic. It is a water-soluble toxin that has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
As rice is cultivated in water-flooded fields, where irrigation water and the soil may be contaminated with arsenic, this leads to arsenic getting accumulated in rice 10 times more than it does in other cereals. Arsenic is rapidly absorbed by rice grains into their roots through water. Rice’s arsenic content varies significantly between varieties and by the location where it is produced.
You can avoid high amounts of arsenic by choosing white rice. Why? Because most of the arsenic is stored in rice bran. White rice is produced by removing the bran; therefore, it has a lower arsenic content than brown rice and it is also simpler to digest. It is also recommended to pick rice varieties that are organic. While rice cultivated organically won’t always contain less arsenic, it will have a lot fewer chemical residues.
4. Improves the flavor and aroma
Washing rice also improves the flavor and aroma of the rice because it removes the stick coating called skin bran. As a result, you can enjoy the flavor and aroma.
5. Hydrates the rice
Washing rice helps hydrate it. As a result, it gets plumper and fluffier.
6. Easy for digestive system to break down
Anti-nutrients like phytic acid (a powerful blocker of mineral absorption in the gut) and lectins (particularly in brown rice varieties), are reduced by washing the grains. This aids in easier digestion of this starchy grain.
HOW TO WASH RICE EFFECTIVELY?
The most commonly advocated process of washing rice directs us to place it in a colander first and then run it under cold water. As the water pours over, you gently agitate the rice grains using your hands so that the water wets every single grain. Rinse the rice until you can see clear water dripping.
But I find this method to be ill-advised. Mainly because you end up wasting more water than required for such a simple task. Whatever happened to saving our natural resources, right?!!
So, the most effective method is to wash rice by putting them in a bowl and pouring water over the top, as shown in the above video. Gently agitate the rice and dump the water. Repeat the process twice or thrice, till the water runs clear.
When it comes to food prep, it’s customary to wash fruits and vegetables before cooking and eating them.
So why the indifference towards rice!
Please take 5 minutes & share with our readers if you do or do not wash your rice and why!
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