What Does Rinsing Rice Actually Do?

You've probably seen it on every bag of white rice, "rinse rice before cooking". In school and working in professional kitchens, I learned that taking that extra step to rinse your rice always helped keep the rice grains separated and prevented the rice from getting gummy. However, while at home I set the step aside, chalking it up as unnecessary and adding an extra dish to my kitchen sink.

But I have recently realized that cutting that small corner could make or break my dish. And now every time I am cooking rice at home, I always rinse it in a strainer under cold water before cooking.

What does rinsing rice do?

According to America's Test Kitchen, washing rice (like long-grain rice, basmati, and even short-grain sushi rice) reduces the excess starch that would normally cause the individual grains of rice to stick together and become gummy when you cook rice. It is also a great way to make sure there is nothing like a pebble in your rice grains before adding it into the pot.

The best way to wash rice is to add it to a fine-mesh strainer and hold it under cold water until the rice water begins to run clear. Then continue to cook your pot of rice normally. You should always wash your rice in a colander no matter the cooking method. Whether it's on the stovetop or a rice cooker, this first step is crucial to fluffy rice.

Do You Need to Rinse Brown Rice?

Unlike white rice, brown rice doesn't have any surface starch that needs to be removed. You can cook this rice without having to rinse or wash it. The cooking process is longer than white rice as well.

When To Rinse Rice

Depending on what you are cooking, most likely you will be washing your rice. Rice recipes like rice pilaf, steamed rice, and rice salad benefit from a quick rinse. But if you are looking to make risotto with arborio rice,  congee, porridge, or rice pudding, where you want your rice to be creamy, washing or soaking rice will alter the texture of your grain rice and turn it mushy.

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