29

There are pretty confusing articles on this topic on the internet. Some suggest that we should wash them to remove starch, talc, etc. Some suggest that we should not wash them because they are fortified with minerals.

This also varies according to the type of rice - short grain, Jasmine, Basmati, etc. It would be great to have logical reasons instead of just instructions.

  • My Zojirushi cooker instructions imply that not washing rice is basically barbaric. A South Asian friend told me that washing Basmati is a really good idea, and generally imported Basmati gives off a lot of starch in a few changes of water. – Pointy Jan 15 '17 at 4:23
  • Some rices specifically say on the bag not to wash them. – Casey Oct 13 '17 at 17:06
30

Reasons to wash your rice:

  1. Reduce/Control Starch levels

    • Often when you're cooking rice you want distinct grains of rice and for your rice to have texture. In the case of Chinese fried rice for example, you specifically want your rice grains to not stick to one another. If you're talking white rice especially, there will be a lot more loose starch that will form a thickish paste if if you don't rinse it away.
  2. To clean out impurities

    • I imagine there was a time when there were a lot more impurities (dirt, dust, bugs, etc...). I don't know if that's necessarily the case these days with modern manufacturing. If you're concerned about your source, then this may be a factor for you. There's also the occasional random article that suggest rinsing to reduce levels of something like arsenic (see FDA warning on arsenic in rice)... I think 1. is your bigger factor here though.

Reasons to not wash your rice:

  1. It removes nutrients.

    • This is true for fortified rice. See here for more information on the fortification process. Note, whole grain/brown rices are less often fortified (I want to say they're not fortified, but I actually don't know for sure). So it would depend on what kind of product you're buying and where it came from.
  2. You actually want to keep the extra starch.

    • This is the case for things like risotto where the starch is what gives the dish it's creaminess. Serious Eats has a great article that talks about the process.
  • You might note that washing unfortified rice doesn't do a great deal. Also, debris in rice is still fairly common, so unless the dish specifically calls for the rice not to be rinsed (as with risotto) it probably should be rinsed – Jon Takagi Aug 27 '16 at 12:34
  • 2
    Besides toxic pesticides (some of which are based on arsenic by the way), your rice may have Diatomaceous earth mixed in as a non-toxic pesticide by natural food stores. This naturally-occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock when ground into a white powder dehydrates and slices pests such as moths. While not toxic, you should avoid breathing it and certainly need not consume it. – Basil Bourque Aug 27 '16 at 20:25
  • 3
    @Hack-R: Did you read the link? Arsenic accumulates in rice from the environment. (I'm not saying that's a reliable link, but it explains what people are concerned about.) There are other sources of arsenic than people who are intentionally trying to poison others. It is an element that can pollute water supplies or the soil. – sumelic Aug 28 '16 at 8:45
  • 3
    @sumelic No, I was just responding to the answer, I didn't see the link. Fair point. Let me say that you were right and I now agree with you. I found a better link tho: fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/Metals/ucm319870.htm – Hack-R Aug 28 '16 at 11:38
  • 3
    About arsenic, the FDA says "rinsing rice before cooking has a minimal effect on the arsenic content of the cooked grain. Rinsing does, however, wash off iron, folate, thiamin and niacin from polished and parboiled rice." That link includes tables of reductions of those vitamins and minerals by rinsing, and also by cooking in excess water. Not sure if you'd rather clarify that rinsing doesn't really help with arsenic, or just avoid bringing it up? – Cascabel Aug 29 '16 at 0:13
10

Most white rice produced in the US is thoroughly washed then fortified. So, Americans don't usually wash white rice. It's fine if you do, though. Rice imported from other countries may not be either washed nor fortified. Look at the label for clues.

  • I am in the US and I buy the blue one from Great Value at Walmart. I believe I shouldn't be washing it. But as the other answer suggests, it forms a sticky white paste if I don't wash it. Is there a way to know whether it is fortified or not? – Cool_Coder Aug 27 '16 at 1:40
  • I would read the bag... According to google they sell one that is "enriched" and one that isn't. – talon8 Aug 27 '16 at 5:13
7

For Japanese (like me), our white rice is always thoroughly washed in cold water until the water runs clear. Steamed white rice is at the very core of most of our diets, and we take it really seriously. In fact, the Japanese word for "meal" and for "rice" are the same ("gohan").

American white rice (I think by law) is pre-washed then "fortified" (meaning that a dusting of vitamins is added), which is probably where the argument that "you are washing away nutrients" comes from.

4

We almost always wash rice. Why?

  1. If there's any bugs, it'll float. This is pretty important if you buy rice in bulk of any sort. A quick swish and dump would do here. This is the reason I got told that its done. Bugs icky.

  2. If you don't want your rice clumping together. This is not a measure of stickiness - how sticky rice is depends on the content of a specific protein. I've had rice that was nice and chewey, and came out as a block. "Wash until it runs clear" is basically "Wash until you get all the accidentally created starch from processing out". In theory, I suppose you could pack rice precleaned, I guess.

0

Also, keep in mind that sometimes you DO want your rice to be sticky. For example, when you make sushi rolls, you want the rice to bind together. Search Google for "sticky rice" and you'll see that it's quite an art form just to get the rice to stick, while some other recipes or uses would find this stickiness to be a problem.

  • 4
    "sticky rice" often comes from using different kinds of rice. In Chinese cooking, you're using something that is often labeled as "glutinous" or "sweet" rice. Also, in traditional sushi applications, the rice is in fact rinsed, multiple times in fact. – talon8 Aug 27 '16 at 5:18
  • This seems more like a comment than its own answer - an answer should stand on its own, or else it might get confusing. If you want to improve your post so it is an answer to the question, you can talk about how washing (or not) changes the way rice binds together - although you might want to mention how rice varieties also play a role, as talon8 mentioned. – Megha Aug 27 '16 at 10:01
  • 1
    Sticky rice is /not/ sushi rice, and the of the dish will suffer. Sticky rice is also known as glutinous rice, and is used for making sticky rice in Thai cuisine and mochi in Japanese cooking. Sushi rice is short grain rice, similar to ordinary Japanese rice (specially labeled sushi rice is chosen for its neutral taste and ability to absorb the vinegar mixture that is key to sushi). There is already a question about substitutes for sushi rice. – Jon Takagi Aug 27 '16 at 12:31
  • And sticky rice commonly gets washed, it will still work :) – rackandboneman Aug 29 '16 at 8:12
  • I don't agree with this - I have been taught to thoroughly wash rice, even for making sushi. It doesn't stop it holding together, but does stop it becoming clarty and pasty – canardgras Jan 16 '17 at 14:07
0

Unwashed. Sticky rice. Has more starch. Slightly under cook. Eat. this stays with you. So you can work till noon. Give you more energy Why many in Asia eat it that way. Washed rice. less starch. for light fluffy rice, fried rice. But in 2 hours you are hungry again. Unless oil added.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.