When it comes to food, fresher is usually always better. However, aging food can also bring out different flavors and textures that are just as good. With rice, consumers have the choice to buy either fresh rice or aged rice, both of which come with their own benefits in cooking and taste. Here are the important differences you should know about.
New rice has a higher moisture content than aged rice, so it actually requires less water when cooking. When it comes out, it’s moister, softer, and clumps together. Grain types like jasmine and japonica taste best when fresh, and their stickier texture is preferred in countries like Japan and Korea where chopsticks are used and rice rolls require something more tacky and malleable.
As rice sits and ages, its cooked texture gets firmer, less sticky, and increasingly more aromatic. Old crop rice has limited water penetration and starch leakage, leading to increased firmness and reduced stickiness in the cooked rice texture. Basmati rice, for example, must be aged for several months before cooking for it to get that fluffy texture when cooked.
The importance of freshness in rice will always depend on its type, what meals you’re cooking, and of course, your own personal preference. East Asian recipes typically call for newer rice for that clumpier texture, and this will benefit you if you use chopsticks or are cooking a meal that requires softer and stickier rice.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for more fragrant rice that separates easily and is fluffy when cooked, rice types like Basmati will work best.