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Do You Really Need to Wash Your Rice?

A bowl of white rice sits next to a wooden spoon.
Amarita/Shutterstock.com

There are lots of food prep methods to help your dinners cook and taste better. From toasting your pasta before cooking to something as well-known as marinating your meat, prep is important. Another common piece of advice is to wash your rice, but is it really necessary?

The answer is yes and no, and it all depends on what kind of dish you’re making.

If you’re making a traditional pot of rice where you want individual grains to be individual and fluffy, you should definitely be washing your rice. According to Matt Slem, culinary scientist and rice cooking expert at Lundberg Family Farms, there are two key reasons why.

First, washing helps to remove any leftover dirt or debris that might be on your rice, and regardless of whether you purchased it in a bag or from a bin, it can still get contaminated. The second reason is to remove any excess starch. By eliminating the starch on the outside of the rice, you’ll prevent it from getting gummy or sticky when cooking and have that perfect fluffy texture.

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For other recipes, however, like risotto—which is made using arborio rice—or sticky rice, you want to retain the starch. That’s part of what helps achieve the creamy texture the dish is known for. In that case, some would argue that you should forgo the step.

Nik Sharma, recipe developer and author of The Flavor Equation, however, disagrees with this take and instead says all types of rice should be washed regardless of its intended outcome. Sharma gave the example of sticky rice, a dish that is meant to have a gummy texture, and said that the starch inside of the grain will come out when cooking. Even if the outer layer is washed away, there’s still plenty of starch inside.

If you’ve got a rice-based dinner on the menu, you might want to try washing your rice before cooking. But if you skip the process the next time you make risotto, that’s okay, too.

[Via Martha Stewart]

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »

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