Do you cook brown rice with confidence for your family and friends? Or, like many of us, could you use some help figuring out how to make sure it turns out right every time? Rice has been known to intimidate many of us at first, but we have tested every imaginable way to cook brown rice. Now, we’re ready to share our favorite tips and tricks for getting the texture you are looking for with various kinds of recipes.
Brown rice, in particular, can be tricky. You probably know it takes longer to cook, but with so many different types of brown rice there is a lot to consider. It’s time to become more confident cooking rice. Read on for our secrets to master cooking nutritious, 100% whole grain brown rice.
BROWN RICE FACTS
Before you can cook the perfect brown rice, you’ll need to understand its characteristics—its personality even—because each variety can act differently!
Let’s start with the basics: every grain of rice is harvested in its whole grain form, which is usually brown, but could also be black, red or purple. White rice is just a whole grain of rice that has the outer “bran” layer milled away to show the lighter, usually white, layer below. The natural, not to mention nutritious, oils in the bran layer make it more difficult for brown rice to absorb water. This is why it takes whole grain brown rice longer to cook.
That being said, not all brown rice cooks the same. There are different varieties of brown rice including long grain, medium grain Calrose, jasmine, and basmati. Although they all have the brown bran layer intact, they cook up quite differently. Medium grain Calrose brown and brown jasmine rice are softer than traditional, nutty-tasting long grain brown or brown basmati rice. This is because the shorter, fatter grains have a more sticky starch called amylopectin, while the skinnier, longer grains have a non-sticky starch called amylose that keeps the grains separated when cooked.
Not sure which variety of rice has the texture you are looking for? Here’s a little help:
BROWN RICE COOKING CHECKLIST
To start, watch this very informative video from America’s Test Kitchen to understand how water absorption works with brown rice. You don’t actually have to use more water when cooking brown rice, as long as you give it enough time to absorb through the bran layer. If the water gets steamed off too fast, you can end up with crunchy or even burnt rice. The key is to have just enough water to last through the absorption process. This can vary depending on the size of your pan, the strength of your burner, and the variety of brown rice you choose to cook.
- Rinse rice in water until it runs clear.
- Add suggested water and rice ratios to the pan (e.g., 3 cups water to 2 cups rice). You may need to test this out a couple times with the same pan, burner and variety of brown rice to get it just right. You can add ¼ cup more liquid and steam for 10 minutes longer or ¼ cup less liquid and steam for about the same time to see how that changes the texture.
- Stir rice well in water to distribute evenly in the bottom of the pan.
- Cover with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a slow boil, then immediately turn heat to low and let simmer 40 – 50 minutes.
- Do not remove the lid while steaming! If you are a “peeker,” use a pan with a glass lid so you can check on the rice without lifting the lid. Removing the lid reduces the amount of water the rice will absorb.
- When all the water has steamed off, remove the pan from the burner and let stand (without removing the lid) for 10 minutes. This helps the rice absorb any remaining moisture and set up without getting mushy.
- Now you can take off the lid! Use a fork to gently fluff the rice so it doesn’t stick into one big mound.
Here is where it gets tricky though, each variety of brown rice has its own quirks. Consider these differences for each type of brown rice to help ensure you get perfectly cooked rice!
COOKING MEDIUM GRAIN CALROSE BROWN RICE
Don’t skip the step of rinsing medium grain Calrose brown rice before cooking it. This takes away residual bran so the grains absorb the water more evenly. In addition, be sure to soak the rice in water for at least 15, but preferably 30, minutes before steaming. This is the most important step to avoid sticky rice that becomes too mushy and clumpy.
Here are a few recipe ideas that are great with Hinode Calrose brown rice:
COOKING LONG GRAIN BROWN RICE
Rinse, but do not soak, jasmine, basmati, or extra long grain brown rice before cooking. Instead, we recommend simply simmering these brown rice varieties for at least 40 minutes on the lowest possible setting, and giving them ample time to absorb without lifting the lid. Alternately, (to save time and patience) you can boil these brown grains like pasta with a full pot of boiling water until it gets to the texture you desire, and then drain. Just like pasta, everyone has their own preference for how “al dente” they like their rice.
Get more comfortable with cooking Hinode extra long brown rice by trying a couple of these recipes:
If you’re ready to get a little more exotic with your long grain brown rice, jasmine and basmati varieties add an aromatic quality to dishes. Hinode offers convenient microwavable pre-cooked Jasmine Thai Hom Mali brown rice if you want to experiment with fragrant brown rice. You can enjoy this nutritious whole grain rice any night of the week in seconds to liven up meals without any hassle!
Here are a couple brown jasmine rice recipes to start with:
BROWN RICE TIPS
Now that you have the facts and know how to treat different varieties, let’s give you a few extra tips!
- Avoid cooking just one cup of brown rice. It is very difficult to manage the water ratio in a small 1-quart pan on a small burner. If you want to cook just one cup of brown rice, stick with long grain, jasmine or basmati rice varieties, and boil it like pasta until it is just right. That way, the pan won’t run out of water and burn the bottom of the rice.
- If you are using a rice cooker, learn the different settings. Does it soak the rice before steaming? Does it have an option for brown rice? If not, you may want to cook your brown rice on the stove top instead, so you can control these variables.
- Make life easier and match your cups to quarts. Use a 2-quart pan when cooking two cups of rice or a 3-quart pan for cooking three cups of rice. This helps with creating the optimal conditions for steaming.