7 Tips for Storing Rice


Rice is a food staple that is a part of many meals. From casseroles, sushi, burritos, and more, numerous cultures and cuisines have a way to make use of rice. Rice is especially cheap when bought in bulk amounts, making it a great food item to include in long-term food storage.

However, buying a bag of rice and storing it as is in the pantry will cause it to spoil and become unusable. One has to take a couple of measures to ensure that rice can last long without sacrificing its texture or flavor. In this article, we’ll be giving you tips for storing rice properly without worrying about losing it to food waste.

How Do You Preserve a Bag of Rice?

We buy rice in bulk often and when stored properly, it can last for months. If you don’t store rice correctly, you may end up with nothing to use or eat. There are several factors that you need to consider when storing rice: temperature, moisture, oxygen, and pests.

It’s important to plan your rice storage location. Whether you intend to store rice long-term or short-term, it’s necessary to ensure that your rice storage space has a cool environment. Many people believe that rice should be stored at normal temperatures however, this is incorrect. Under normal temperature conditions and without proper management, rice can be exposed to direct sunlight or water, leading to the growth of mold. 

Next, the quality of your rice dispenser or container matters as well. Storing dry rice in a container with a tight seal can stop the air from getting in. If you store rice in a container without a seal, your rice will oxidize quickly and will lose its freshness. Properly stored rice in a sealed container will not absorb moisture nor oxidize quickly, prolonging its shelf life.

When rice is not stored properly, it can be infested with bugs known as weevils. Rice weevils, also known as flour bugs or long-snout bugs, can infest dry goods stored in the pantry. Weevils are one of the most common reasons for rice spoilage. The presence of weevils in grains can cause the grains to lose their nutritional value and taste. To prevent weevils from infesting grains, it is best to store rice properly in a sealed container.

How Long Can You Store Uncooked Rice?

Dry rice that is uncooked has a shelf life of up to 2 years. Uncooked brown rice can have a shelf life of up to 6 months due to its natural oils.

Tips for Storing Uncooked Rice

Preserving uncooked rice in a proper manner can give it an almost indefinite shelf life. Keeping moisture and heat away, minimizing the amount of oxygen around the bulk rice, and having a sealed rice storage container can make a huge difference. Here are some tips and tricks that you can do to store rice long-term.

Use Airtight Bags

A great way to store dry rice is to use an airtight bag. It’s recommended to buy airtight bags that are at least five millimeters thick. Using thin bags is discouraged as they are at risk of getting punctured easily. Aside from airtight bags, you’ll also need an oxygen absorber. As mentioned earlier, oxygen can spoil rice. By using oxygen absorbers, you can preserve rice quality and protect from insect infestation. 

You may also use a Mylar bag to store bulk rice. The thick, foil-laminated layers of Mylar bags provide protection from moisture, light, and odor, making them ideal for long-term storage. Plus, Mylar bags are equipped with an airtight sealing. 

To store rice in a Mylar bag or an airtight bag, first, divide your bulk rice into smaller amounts. Dividing rice and putting them into smaller bags is ideal as too much rice in one bag can degrade its storage quality in the long run. How much rice you store in the bag depends on the size of your bag, but don’t let the rice fill more than 3/4 of the bag. 

Use a clean cup to pour rice into the bag. Make sure that the rice is not wet during the transfer process. Next, put two oxygen absorbers inside each bag. Squeeze out as much air as you can when closing the bag. You may use a vacuum sealer to ensure that the bags are properly sealed. Lastly, load the bags in a container that also has a seal. This ensures that the rice will always retain its freshness. Don’t forget to label and date the container to remember when you bought and transferred them.

How Long Can You Store Rice in an Airtight Container?

Uncooked rice stored in an airtight container kept in a cool environment can last one to two years. However, it’s best to cook the rice within the first year for the best flavor and texture. The quality and texture may slightly deteriorate after a year but it is acceptable to eat as long as there is no mold.

Use Food-Grade Buckets

Another way to store rice is to use a food-grade bucket with a lid. Usually, bakeries use food-grade buckets to store frosting, but they can also be used to keep bulk rice or other dry food items. To use food-grade buckets as food storage, it’s important to thoroughly wash and dry them first. Afterward, you can fill them up with rice.

Use Glass Jars

Glass jars are airtight and non-reactive, making them another ideal way to store grains. Simply put rice into a jar and add an oxygen absorber before closing it shut. You can screw the ring for extra protection. You can also use a freeze dryer to vacuum seal the jars.

Freeze Rice

Your freezer isn’t just for meats and other frozen items, you can definitely freeze rice as well. If you have fairly large freezer space, you can clear out the bottom section to fit in a bulk-sized bag. If you live in a climate with a cold winter, you can save freezer space by putting rice in an airtight container and placing it outside for a few days before bringing it in.

Additionally, if bugs manage to infest your rice, you can place it in a deep freezer for a week to kill the bugs and eggs. Frozen rice is safe to use right away, you don’t have to thaw it before cooking.

Cool Storage Location

Rice should be stored away from heat, especially if you’re aiming for long-term storage. Ideally, you can keep your sealed rice containers in the basement or a root cellar. As mentioned, the freezer works well too.

Tips for Storing Cooked Rice

Storing cooked rice is a little different from keeping uncooked rice. Proper storage is vital when it comes to cooked rice. If you don’t store cooked rice safely, it may lead to food poisoning. 

Should Cooked Rice Be Stored in the Fridge?

Cooked rice should be stored in the fridge to avoid bacteria from developing. If cooked rice is left at room temperature for too long, bacteria can develop and release toxins that can cause food poisoning. 

To store cooked rice, you’ll need a baking sheet or tray, parchment paper, and zip-top bags or airtight containers. First, line your baking sheet with parchment paper. Then, spoon and spread out the cooked rice in a thin layer on a baking sheet so it cools rapidly. Once cold, you can store cooked rice in a container with a cover and chill in the fridge. 

Can You Store Instant Rice?

Instant rice is just like any other regular rice and yes, you can definitely store it. Simply place the instant rice into a sealed container and store it in the fridge or a freezer to prolong its shelf life.

Final Note

Rice is a staple that lends itself to multitudes of dishes all over the world. It’s often bought in bulk and can be stored for a long time if done correctly. Uncooked rice should be stored in airtight containers under dry and cool conditions. On the other hand, cooked rice should be stored in the fridge once it cools down. Preserving rice properly for long-term storage will retain its freshness and flavor. 

Do you cook rice often and are you running out of ideas? Check out our rice recipes for your new mealtime menu.