Rice has been a hugely popular grain for many centuries, and yet, the cooking method that will create the perfect batch of rice every time remains elusive. The type of rice and the moisture content at cooking time determine how long it will take to cook properly. Moisture content changes over time. The longer rice is stored, the less moisture it has.

Types of Rice

Long Grain Rice – maintains its long, slender shape and is drier and fluffier when cooked. Examples are brown, white, and basmati. It is used primarily as a bed for sauces, or as a side dish.

Medium Grain Rice – holds its shape a little better than short grain rice, but still becomes sticky when cooked. It is used primarily for risotto and paella.

Short Grain Rice – becomes moist, mushy, and sticky when cooked. Examples are white and arborio. It is used primarily for molded salads and rice pudding.

Cooking Instructions

There are 5 basic steps to cooking rice, not all of them required. They are washing, soaking, measuring, boiling, and resting.

1. Washing

Washing rice is recommended if it is grown outside of the US. Talc used during the milling process may remain on the rice. Rice can be washed in a colander, running water over it until the rinse water runs clear. Rice can also be washed by placing it in a pan with water, stirring, and pouring out the water repeatedly until the rinse water runs clear.

2. Soaking

Soaking is often not necessary, but can help produce fluffier rice if it has been stored for a long time. Soaking can also help basmati rice expand to it’s full length and make it less brittle. Soaking for 30 minutes will be sufficient. Drain it thoroughly.

3. Measuring

In general, 1 cup of uncooked rice will yield 1 ½ to 2 cups of cooked rice. The US Rice Federation provides these guidelines for the amount of water to use for 1 Cup of rice:

White, long grain – 1 3/4 cups
Brown, long grain – 2 1/4 cups
Short or Medium grain – 1 1/2 cups
Parboiled – 2 cups
Basmati or Jasmine – 1 1/2 cups – although these are long-grain rices, they are usually served drier than other rices, so less water is used.
Previously washed or soaked rice – 1 cup

These amounts can vary by 1/3 C depending on the moisture content of the rice at cooking time.

4. Boiling

To prevent sticking, use a heavy-bottomed pot.
1. Combine rice, water, salt (1/2 teaspoon per cup of rice, optional), and butter or oil (1 teaspoon per cup of rice, optional) in a saucepan.
2. Heat to boiling, stirring once or twice.
3. Reduce heat to low and cover with a tightly fitting lid.
4. Simmer according to time specified below. If rice is not tender cook 2 to 4 minutes longer. Excess water can be poured off.

Cooking time (in minutes)
White, long grain 18 – 20
Brown, long grain 40 – 45
Short or Medium grain 20 – 30
Parboiled 25 – 30
Basmati or Jasmine 20 – 25
Jasmine 20 – 25

5. Resting

Allowing the rice to rest for 5 – 30 minutes allows the steam in the pot to finish cooking the rice and helps redistribute any water in the bottom throughout the whole pot.

More information about individual rice characteristics and how they are processed can be found at these links:

US Rice Federation: Rice Types
Producers’ Rice Mill Inc: Rice Types

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