Is It Okay to Cook Unwashed Rice? (It Depends)

Rice is a staple food that is is consumed in almost every household which is why it is so popular.

People employ different cooking methods, and you might be wondering if it is the best idea to wash the rice before cooking.

So, Is It Okay to Cook Unwashed Rice?

Yes, you can cook unwashed rice. It is almost an unconscious act for most people to wash every raw food before cooking. For most people, rice is no exception when it comes to washing. While some people may prefer to wash the rice before cooking, others will be comfortable cooking it unwashed. Well, it depends on the type of rice that you are preparing. Let’s begin here; all rice grains have starch. Washing the rice flushes away excess starch attached to the surface of the grain. However, not all rice needs to be washed, as we will find out later.

Rice grains are a great source of nutrients.

Therefore, the preparation method should seek to preserve the nutrients while attempting to maintain the culinary taste.

Each rice grain contains very important nutrients such as dietary fiber, group of vitamin Bs such as thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin which are important for normal cell biology.

Rice is also rich in carbohydrates.

What Happens When You Cook Your Rice Unwashed?

Now, every rice grain contains starch (amylose and amylopectin) and other nutritional elements such as proteins and lipids.

We are interested in starch because it is soluble in water.

Rice variety with more amylopectin than amylose is sticky and tends to be stickier when cooked.

To understand this better, let’s break it down as follows:

1. Sticky Rice

This type has almost 0% of amylose. Examples include Thai glutinous rice.

2. Short Grain Or Waxy Rice

This type contains about 1% of amylose. Examples include arborio.

3. Long Grain Rice

Basmati and jasmine rice  are examples and are rich in amylose.

Amylose forms a gel with the cooking water and crystallizes after cooling.

So, the higher the amylose content, the firmer and dryer the cooled rice.

This is why unwashed rice is sticky.

Unwashed rice produces a lot of bubbles when cooking, and once cooked, it comes out with big, sticky clumps.

Benefits Of Cooking Unwashed Rice

When you cook unwashed rice, you preserve most of the nutrients in the rice grains.

This is so true for rice varieties like risotto.

When white rice is milled, the naked grain is exposed.

So, if you wash your rice before cooking, most water-soluble nutrients such as starch are lost. To preserve these nutrients, cook your rice unwashed.

Some governments, such as the US, require processors to fortify rice before releasing it to the market for consumption.

This enriches the rice with vitamins and other vital nutrients, which usually appear as a dusty layer on rice grains. So, if you want to preserve these nutrients, do not wash the rice.

According to the US Rice Federation, US-produced rice, regardless of the type, does not need to be washed before cooking.

Therefore, if your rice is produced and packaged in the US, you are assured of the safety of your rice. This will save you time and water.

However, if you are consuming rice produced and processed outside of the US, it may be appropriate to wash it before cooking.

Effects Of Unwashed Rice

During the production and processing, rice is prone to contamination with metals and chemicals—water-soluble contaminants such as arsenic lead and cadmium (leading to health issues).

Studies have shown that washing rice can greatly reduce the number of heavy metals.

Reasons To Wash Your Rice

Washing your rise will rinse away debris like dirt, stones, and small bugs that usually hide in the grains.

Through the various processes of handling the rice, such as processing, packaging, travel, and storage, rice is exposed to contamination.

To reduce the starch levels.

The surface starch from rice grains can make them gummy or sticky as they cook.

And if you are keen on the texture of rice, washing can achieve an even texture.

If you cook unwashed rice, the residual starch on the grains will gelatinize and make the cooked rice stick.

To ensure proper washing, for four to seven cups of rice, wash three times.

You should wash and rinse until there is no cloudiness in the water. You should be able to see rice grains through the water.

It is also important to note that soaking the rice is different from rinsing.

Soaking before cooking usually takes about 30 minutes, and it gives rise to a head start on cooking.

Soaking shortens the cooking time as the rice grains absorb water.

The result will be evenly cooked rice and yield a better texture.

Tips For Cooking Exceptional Rice

If you are preparing to cook your rice, you can improve culinary by following the following steps:

  1. Sift through the rice grains and remove any grit you can pick.
  2. Place the rice in a mesh strainer and rinse it until the water runoff is no longer cloudy.
  3. Do not be forceful in rubbing the rice with your hands.
  4. Then soak the rice for about 30 minutes at room temperature.
  5. If soaked overnight, the cooking time will be significantly reduced.
  6. You can now drain the excess water.
  7. Finally, cook (don’t overcook) the rice in fresh water.

Final Thoughts

It is okay to cook unwashed rice.

Cooking unwashed rice simplifies the cooking process. And again, you get maximum nutrients such as starch.

So, after you have cooked your rice, you should consume it while it is still hot.

If you leave it out for more than an hour, you are exposing yourself to food poisoning.