Rice is a poor man’s best friend. It’s inexpensive, filling, a blank slate for flavor, and can be added to almost any meal to bulk it out. But guess what? When I come home after a long day at work and I’m hungry, like now, I don’t always want to take the time to make rice.
That’s where a having a freezer stash of cooked rice comes in handy. Frozen cooked rice reheats quickly in the microwave and makes getting dinner on the table (or just into your belly) twice as fast. Plus, if you live alone and often want just one serving of rice at a time, this trick solves that problem. Use your frozen rice for a quick stir fry or fried rice, to soak up the sauce from a yummy stew, or as a bed for some beans, salsa, and cheese. The possibilities for fast meals are endless.
There isn’t much to freezing rice, so this is more of a “Why to: Freeze Rice” rather than “How to: Freeze Rice,” but, you know, consistency. I’m also going to provide some resources below for help with cooking rice for those who haven’t mastered it yet (and you definitely should master it at some point).
So, let’s go.
How to: Freeze Rice
Step 1: Cook the Rice
The next time you cook rice for a recipe, cook double with the intent of freezing half. Or, cook a big pot on the weekend and freeze it for use later in the week (or weeks to come).
Step 2: Cool the Rice
It’s important to let the rice cool quickly and completely in the refrigerator before freezing. This will help keep the grains separate instead of freezing in one sticky clump. Properly cooling your rice is also an important step to maintain food safety. Either divide the rice into smaller portions, or spread it out onto something like a baking sheet so that it has more surface area and cools faster. Always cool the rice in the refrigerator, not at room temperature, which will increase the risk of food poisoning (for more information about leftover rice and food safety, click here).
Step 3: Portion and Freeze
It’s a good idea to freeze the rice in portions that you would normally use for one or two meals. I freeze my rice in two cup portions, which will supply me with two meals worth of rice. If you have a family of four, you may consider freezing in 4-6 cup portions, so that you can just thaw the amount needed for one dinner.
I like to freeze in quart-sized freezer bags, and gallon-sized for larger portions. I find that their minimal shape helps me fit more in the freezer. Resealable plastic containers (like this) are also great because they’re reusable and many are BPA free.
Step 4: Reheat the Rice
To reheat the rice, I simply tear away the freezer bag and dump the rice in a bowl, or open up the resealable plastic container and microwave until it’s heated through. I like to place a lid loosely over top of whatever container I’m using while reheating to help keep moisture in. And, as always with microwaving, it’s a good idea to stir a couple times in the middle of reheating to make sure everything heats evenly.
I know some people don’t like to use microwaves, but I haven’t experimented with other methods of reheating frozen rice yet. If you routinely freeze and reheat your rice using another method, please share with the rest of us in the comments below!
Help with Cooking Rice
I thought about doing a step by step rice cooking tutorial, but so many others have already done so and done such a good job of it. There are two main methods of cooking rice on a stovetop. The immersion method (let the water boil before adding the rice) and the steaming method (add rice and water to pot, then bring to a boil). I prefer the steam method, but they both work great.
- Here is a great tutorial with pictures from the folks over at thekitchn.com for the immersion method.
- And a simple 1-2-3 tutorial from Martha Stewart.
- I like to use this method as described in detail by Fine Cooking.
I’ve found that the single most important factor when cooking rice is using a good pot with a thick bottom. When I use my thinner pots it sticks or burns to the bottom every time. When I use my heavy pots I get perfect, fluffy rice. The thicker pots distribute the heat better and will simply give you better results. I’ve had a set like this for the past ten years, and they’re fantastic.
And, of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using a rice cooker. They make perfect rice every time, aren’t very expensive, and you’ll definitely get a lot of use out of it! So, if you haven’t been able to master cooking rice on the stove, give some thought to investing in a rice cooker. Check out how inexpensive these small, medium, and extra large rice cookers are!
Plus, according to thekitchn.com, you can do a LOT more than just cook rice in one of those things… Sounds like a small apartment dweller’s best friend!
So there you have it! Rice! What’s not to love! :D