Do You Really Need to Rinse Rice Before Cooking?

Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Suzy Hazelwood

You should rinse and soak rice before cooking — this is the only healthy way to prepare the grain. We’ll look at why you shouldn’t skip washing your rice and what you should pay attention to.

Rice may seem like a very easy thing to cook, but if we take a closer look, it becomes clear that there are a number of things to keep in mind. It’s not just about the consistency and taste of the cooked rice, there’s also the health aspect to take into consideration. Keep reading to find out why you should rinse and soak your rice. 

Rinsing and Soaking Rice: Why It’s Important

rinse rice
Don’t throw your rice water away: use it for watering plants, or for your hair! (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - Jlb_Enjoy)

Some people cook rice without washing it first. Others swear by rinsing the rice grains thoroughly in advance. But very few people remember to soak and rinse the rice beforehand. These steps are crucial because proper preparation can reduce the arsenic content in the rice.

 In recent years, various studies and investigations have repeatedly found arsenic residues in rice. Arsenic is a naturally occurring semi-metal, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies as “carcinogenic to humans“. In 2016 the FDA launched an initiative to limit arsenic in products to 100 parts per billion

Arsenic can also be found in other foods, but rice is more susceptible to contamination. This is because rice fields are flooded during harvest, causing the arsenic to dissolve from the soil.

The FDA also released a guide to help limit arsenic exposure, which included cutting back on rice and rice products. Brown and wild rice contain higher levels of arsenic, however, they also contain more valuable nutrients than white rice.

While you don’t need to give up eating rice, you may want to consider replacing it with other grains and foods — especially for infants and children

However, the way it’s prepared, namely rinsing the rice, plays a major role and can significantly reduce the arsenic content in rice. Based on the findings of a study done by Dr. Merhag, soaking the rice overnight and cooking it in a 5:1 ratio of water to rice eliminates 82% of the arsenic content in rice.

How to Prepare Rice Correctly

soaking rice
The type of rice you cook does make a difference — both in arsenic content and preparation time. (Photo: CC0 PUblic Domain / Pexels - Polina Tankilevitch)

While rice cookers are an incredibly convenient appliance, they aren’t exactly the healthiest. Cooking rice to dry means that any arsenic that has come out in the water is absorbed back into the rice. For the healthiest results, adhere to the following instructions:

  1. Don’t just rinse the rice – soak it overnight.
  2. Pour off the water the following day. 
  3. Wash the rice with water until the waste water is clean and no longer cloudy — this will flush out the arsenic and eliminate extra starch and any impurities. 
  4. Put the rice in a pot with water in a 5:1 ratio.
  5. Turn the heat down to low once the water boils, and let the rice simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Exact cooking time will vary depending on the type of rice.
  6. Drain the rice in a colander and pour off the cooking water, which you can also save and put aside for a rice water hair rinse!

This article has been translated from German by Karen Stankiewicz. You can find the original here: Reis waschen oder einweichen – ist das sinnvoll?

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