Proper Handling and Storage of Rice


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More than 2 billion people in Asia get 60 to 70 percent of their calories from rice, according to the Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics. Rice is a staple of American kitchens as well. It is an inexpensive food that is sold in short, medium and long grain varieties. Brown and white rice is commonly available in grocery stores. With proper handling and storage, rice can have a long shelf life in your pantry.

Uncooked Rice Storage

Moisture must be kept out of uncooked rice. White rice should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. White rice can be stored for up to two years; however, quality will diminish after one year. Brown rice should be stored in an airtight container as well. Due to its higher oil content, brown rice will keep for only six months at room temperature. This time is increased if brown rice is refrigerated. Once opened, rice should be removed from manufacturer packaging and placed in an airtight container. Label and date the container. Cut the cooking directions from the original packaging and store with the rice to ensure proper preparation.

Cooked Rice Storage

Cooked rice can cause illness if not handled properly. Bacillus cereus can develop and cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea if ingested. The bacteria generally form when cooked rice is left at room temperature for more than two hours. For safety, immediately refrigerate any leftover cooked rice in a tightly sealed container. Cooked rice will keep for one week if refrigerated and for six months if frozen. Any ingredients added to the rice, such as butter, may adjust these times. Rice can be reheated in the microwave, on stove top or in the oven.


Rice should not be washed before storage, before cooking or after cooking as water strips nutrients from the grains.