Brown rice is a healthy alternative to the normal white rice. However, it must keep fresh if we hope to reap all those benefits it offers, longer. If you’re looking to learn about the shelf life of brown rice, we’ve got you covered. We will tell you how long brown rice stays good for, things you can do to make it last longer, and how to tell when it’s time to toss it out. Keep reading.
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Does Brown Rice Go Bad?
Yes, unlike white rice, brown rice does go bad. According to the University of Nebraska, the shorter shelf life is attributed to the high oil content in the rice’s bran layer.
Because brown rice doesn’t go through the process of milling or polishing, over time, the oil starts to rancidify, causing the rice to taste sour.
To know how long your rice will last, check the best-by date printed on the label. Proper storage can help the grain stay good for up to a few months past this date. And you can even prolong this shelf life by storing the rice in the refrigerator or freezer. The cold temperatures slow down rancidity, significantly increasing its lifespan.
How Long Does Brown Rice Last?
Different brands of brown rice will provide different instructions when it comes to the shelf life of their product. The date on the package will give you an idea of how long your rice will keep its quality. But ideally, brown rice will keep for between five and six months. Its white counterpart, on the other hand, will have a much longer lifespan, lasting up to two years.
Of course, brown rice will not spoil right after its best-by date. The date is only a guide for how long the rice will stay at top quality. A packet of brown rice should be good for consumption for a relatively long time beyond the printed date.
But this duration will depend on where the rice is stored. Brown rice will last about four months in the pantry, seven months in the refrigerator, and up to a year in the freezer.
When the rice is cooked, it stays good for five to seven days in the refrigerator and between three and five months in the freezer.
Do not store cooked rice on the kitchen counter. Why? Uncooked rice usually contains spores of Bacillus cereus, a food poisoning bacteria that has been found to thrive even after the rice has been cooked. This bacteria will multiply quickly at room temperature and produce toxins and your rice will go bad quite fast. If your cooked rice has been sitting out overnight, discard it.
Here is a summary of the shelf life of brown rice when stored in different environments.
|Uncooked||Best-by date + 4 months||Best-by date + 7 months||Best-by date + 1 year|
|Cooked||Not recommended||5 to 7 days||3 to 5 months|
4 Tips to Tell if Brown Rice Has Gone Bad
The number one reason why rice goes bad is improper storage, but there are a couple more things that can contribute to its spoilage. Below are several easy ways to tell if your brown rice has spoiled.
1. Change in Texture
This is usually evident in cooked brown rice that has been stored for way too long. It will become dry and hard, and depending on the extent of coarseness, sometimes the rice will be unchewable. Also, as cooked rice goes bad, it may start to get slimy and slippery. Such rice should be thrown out.
2. Microbial Growth
If you see any signs of mold or other microbial growth either on uncooked or cooked brown rice, get rid of it right away. Mold on uncooked rice mostly occurs when the rice absorbs moisture from the atmosphere, and when it comes to cooked rice, this phenomenon occurs when the rice is left at room temperature or refrigerator for too long. No matter the type of rice, do not consume it.
3. Insect Activity
Pantry bugs are nothing new to uncooked brown rice, especially in cases where the rice is not handled properly. For example, if you leave the packet unsealed, you will obviously be making it easy for insects to creep in.
If you notice any insect activity such as holes in the package, egg clusters in the rice, or bugs crawling in and out of the packet, it is time to let the rice go.
4. Sour Smell
Good brown rice will not have much of a scent. But when it goes rancid, it will give off a sour odor. If your rice emits a strong, unpleasant odor, there is a good chance that it has spoiled. Should you ignore this sign and eat the rice, you are likely to develop symptoms of food poisoning. Plus the rice will also not taste so good.
3 Tips to Store Brown Rice
Brown rice doesn’t usually last very long but with proper storage, you can help that packet last for an extra couple months. Use the following tips to ensure your rice keeps good for as long as possible.
1. First Things First… Shop Smart
The easiest way to keep your brown rice from going rancid prematurely is to get it fresh right from the word go. Sure, rice from the bulk bin can be cheaper, but really, you don’t know how long it has been sitting out. It could have already started going stale, which could negatively affect its shelf life when you take it home.
Buy the pre-packed rice instead and if possible, avoid buying those big bags. It’s better to buy the rice in smaller amounts so you are not risking wasting it.
2. Store Brown Rice in an Airtight Container
As soon as you bring brown rice home, transfer it into an airtight mason jar. The idea is to keep it properly sealed so that the oils in it are not exposed to oxygen, as that’s the main reason brown rice goes rancid.
3. Avoid the Pantry if You Can
Brown rice should be stored in a cool, dark place. If your rice is properly sealed and your pantry is cool and dark, then the rice will have no problem keeping fresh for an extended time.
Unfortunately, because of the changes in the kitchen’s temperature and light, the pantry will often be susceptible to the same changes as well, making it unsuitable for rice storage. Consider storing the rice in the refrigerator or freezer instead where it can have a much longer lifespan.
To learn more about proper storage of brown rice, watch this video:
The Risk of Consuming Expired Brown Rice
If you accidentally eat brown rice that has gone rancid, you will likely not get sick. However, if you make it a habit, after some time, the rice can have a negative effect on your health.
Rancidity is a result of oxidation, and when foods rancidify, they become antioxidants. Now, any health expert will tell you that you don’t want oxidants in your body. You want the opposite – antioxidants.
When you consume rancid brown rice regularly, you are technically taking in oxidants and this can lead to the production of free radicals. You don’t want these in your body either.
Free radicals can damage your body’s DNA, proteins, and cells, get you aging quickly, and put you at risk of many chronic illnesses such as cancer, heart diseases, and inflammatory disorders. But it is unlikely that things will get to this point because rancid brown rice tastes terrible anyway.
If you have a packet of brown rice that has gone bad, it’s best to get rid of it than consuming it and putting yourself in harm’s way.
Can You Freeze Brown Rice?
Yes, you can. Freezing is the best way to keep your rice at peak condition the longest. Brown rice freezes very well. The process is also pretty straightforward, as you won’t require any fancy equipment. All you need is your rice and airtight containers.
Also, because brown rice takes a little while to prep, you may want to freeze it cooked. And you don’t need to follow a specific procedure; you can cook it however you want. Once done, divide it into small portions. This does not only enable the grain to cool faster; it also ensures you are not thawing more than you need.
Next, let the rice sit at room temperature for about thirty minutes or until it completely cools down, then transfer it into airtight containers or freezer bags. Label the containers if you want, then chuck them into the freezer. Frozen brown rice can keep for up to five months.
Here is a video with more insights on how to freeze brown rice:
Compared to white rice, brown rice goes bad much faster. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to increase its shelf life including storing the rice in the fridge or freezer in an airtight container. If you notice a change in texture or smell or signs of microbial growth, get rid of the rice right away.