What is the Shelf Life of Brown Rice?


Brown rice is one of the most common food items in most homes across the globe. If you look into the pantry of most home cooks or those who live a healthy lifestyle, you’re likely to find a big bag of brown rice. 

While a lot of us are aware that white rice can last for a while, especially when stored properly, you may be wondering about the shelf life of brown rice. Does brown rice go bad? You may even ask, how long does brown rice last? Find out the answer in this article.

Does Uncooked Brown Rice Go Bad?

Many people buy rice in bulk as it is cheaper this way rather than taking a trip to the store every time they run out. With proper storage, white rice can last for a long time. But what about brown rice?

Brown rice grains are different from white grains in the way that they still have the bran and germ intact and have more nutritional benefits. You may be wondering, does this make a difference when it comes to the shelf life of uncooked brown rice? The answer is yes, it does.

Brown rice lasts significantly less than white grains because of the higher oil content in the bran. Brown rice only has a shelf life of six to eight months in the pantry. Any longer than that, especially if brown rice is not properly stored, can result in odd discolorations, bacteria growth, and more.

How Long Will Sealed Brown Rice Last?

How long does brown rice last in its original packaging, you ask? It depends on the manufacturer as each uses different materials for packaging and can also have different instructions when it comes to shelf life. In general though, one can safely assume that sealed brown rice can last between 12 to 24 months. 

The shelf life of sealed brown rice is reflected in the “best by” or “best before” date on the package. This is not an expiration date; rather, it only informs you how long the rice should be at peak quality. It won’t go bad beyond that date. If you have a sealed package and it’s already past the best-before date, it should be safe to consume.

What Is the Shelf Life of Cooked Brown Rice?

Many sources suggest that if cooked food sits at room temperature for longer than 2 hours, it should be discarded for safety reasons. Like most cooked foods, cooked brown rice has a drastically short shelf life. Storing cooked rice at room temperature places the rice in the danger zone where bacteria growth can prosper. If you left your cooked brown rice on the table for more than 2 hours at room temperature, it’s best to not consume it anymore.

If you plan to store the cooked rice to eat for later, you should transfer it to the refrigerator or freezer. Let it cool completely after cooking, then transfer it to an airtight container and put it in the refrigerator. If you want it to last a week or two, freezing it with other food products in meal-prep containers is perfectly fine. 

Can Brown Rice Be Stored Long Term?

The wrong storage method can make your rice go bad faster than intended. Want to know how long does brown rice last if properly stored? Brown rice grains in an airtight container can generally stay at their best quality for 3 to 6 months. Place it in a cool, dark place like the pantry or cupboard, and make sure that it is sealed at all times. 

Another way to keep brown rice fresh for a long time is to put an oxygen absorber inside the tightly-sealed container. This will suffocate any eggs, insects, or mold, and will reduce the likelihood of spoilage.

If you want to keep brown rice for longer than 6 to 8 months, your best bet is to put it in the freezer. Storing brown rice in the freezer can increase its life by up to two years. Transfer it into freezer bags and remove the excess air before freezing. This way, you can avoid freezer burn. For storing rice in the refrigerator, freezer bags are the way to go.

Signs of Spoilage

It’s very easy to determine whether your brown rice has gone bad or not. It can be as simple as smelling the rice. Fresh brown rice doesn’t have any smell at all but rancid brown rice will have a strong, unpleasant odor. If you somehow miss the off-smell spoiled rice, you will likely experience bad-tasting rice and some digestive discomfort once you consume it. 

Another way to tell if brown rice and other grains are already spoiled is if they’re infested by insects. Meal moths and weevils are two types of insects that commonly infest grains once they become spoiled. If you see insects in your brown rice, this is a clear sign that they’re infested and should not be consumed any longer. You would not want to end up eating any eggs that the insects laid. 

If you store brown rice improperly, you may risk exposing it to high amounts of moisture and triggering mold growth. This is why it’s crucial to keep grains in an airtight container, especially if it’s already cooked and you’re putting it into the fridge. If you see mold forming on the grains, it’s best to not consume it and discard it instead.

Final Note

“How long does brown rice last?” is a question that people who are new to consuming brown grains ask. Compared to its white counterpart, the brown variety contains more oil and has a shorter storage life. Generally, it lasts for 6 months as long as it is stored appropriately in the pantry or cupboard. For more long-term storage, you can keep the uncooked rice in the freezer or store it in the fridge using a tightly-sealed container.

You can easily tell if brown rice is spoiled by its foul odor. Other signs of rancid rice include discoloration, the appearance of insects, and mold. Once you notice these signs, it’s best to not eat the rice anymore and throw it away instead.