The Right Way to Store Brown Rice

updated May 1, 2019
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Brown rice seems like any other dry good, right? Buy a big bag and throw it on a shelf in your pantry, and it will last for what often feels like an eternity.

Well, not exactly.

What makes brown rice not only more nutritious than white rice, but also extra nutty and flavorful, is that its bran and germ are still attached, which contain oils that are full of good, unsaturated fats. While that’s great from a health and taste perspective, those oils unfortunately go rancid pretty quickly.

So that heavy bag in the back of your pantry might actually be quite rancid — and no one wants to eat stale, sometimes even bitter, rice. Here are a few smart tips to avoid it altogether.

Start By Shopping Smart

First, the most important way to avoid rancid brown rice is to get it fresh from the start. While it may seem like a good idea to buy from the bulk bin at your grocery store, it actually could already be stale since it’s unknown just how long the rice has been sitting in the bin.

Instead, buy in bags, and try not to be tempted by those giant bags — your best best is to buy in smaller amounts to risk wasting any rice.

Reach for the Right Container

Transfer brown rice to an airtight container after bringing it home, whether it’s a mason jar or just a tightly lidded plastic container. Exposing the oils to oxygen is a major reason they start to deteriorate and spoil.

Try to Bypass the Pantry

The ideal condition for brown rice is a cool, dark space. If stored in an airtight container and your pantry happens to be both cool and dark, the rice can keep for about six months.

Unfortunately, however, the kitchen cupboard or pantry is often susceptible to changes in temperature and light. This means you’re better off stashing it in the freezer, where the rice can keep for up to two years. If you don’t have space in the freezer, the refrigerator is also a good choice — it will keep for 12 to 16 months there.

Our Favorite Brown Rice Recipes