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For lightweight camping food it would be nice to have rice that cooks quickly without using much stove fuel. Dried instant rice is available (example) but has some downsides: The flavours aren't great (and I find them unpleasantly salty); it's being displaced in the shops by microwavable rice which is much heavier as you're transporting water (it can be heated on a stove).

So I'd like to make my own dried instant rice - perhaps with some dried veg or spices mixed in. But rice is one of the worst foods for breeding nasties so I very much doubt you could just cook it and then put it in a dehydrator. The few ideas I've seen searching online are basically just freezing cooked rice, not dehydrating it at all.

Is there a sensible way to produce dehydrated instant rice at home?

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You can indeed dehydrate cooked rice. It is a lack of water activity that is one factor which increases the safety of foods, so no problem there. Rice is no more problematic than other foods. As you probably know, dehydrated foods are a staple for camping and backpacking. So, cook your rice at home, then place in a food dehydrator. Once on the trail, a 5 minute pre-soak, bring to a boil, cook for a minute, rest for a few minutes...you are good to go.

Edit: With a potential concern for the growth of B. cereus in cooked rice, I would be more comfortable raising the temperature of the dehydrator to at least 60C/140F. Higher temps for rice in your dehydrator are not a problem, it will just proceed more quickly. Reference here.

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  • I see a temperature there - I'm guessing that this is F rather than C as the author is pictured on the Appalachian trail. Note: 125 F is ~52 C.
    – bob1
    Feb 21, 2019 at 22:56
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    I'm surprised they dehydrate so cool when Bacillus cereus (the main food poisoning worry with rice) can grow at 50°C and dehydrators are neither controlled enough nor uniform enough for 2°C to be any margin at all.
    – Chris H
    Feb 22, 2019 at 6:57
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    @ChrisH See:ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2130471/pdf/jhyg00075-0104.pdf. I would agree with you, now having this information, that 50C falls into an area of concern...however, it is well beyond the range of optimal germination of B. cereus. Furthermore, the removal of water during the dehydration process is probably helpful in this case, further reducing the optimal conditions for growth. If it were me, I would simply raise the temp to 60C/140F, and feel more than comfortable. I will edit my answer above to reflect this new information.
    – moscafj
    Feb 22, 2019 at 11:31
  • Don't follow this advice. The big threat is enterotoxins generated after spores are activated by Temps >75C. Activated spores are vulnerable to heat but their generated toxins are heat stable. You have to control the cooking Temps AND the deltas between them to avoid generating toxins. It's not worth the gamble. Purchase dry Minute Rice (one ingredient, no salt) especially to eat alone in the woods. The US sees over 60k cases of b.cereus poisoning every year because the standard recommendations seem excessive and the mechanisms are counter-intuitive... Don't be one of them.
    – ChefAndy
    Sep 18, 2022 at 6:19
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Typically dehydrated foods of this sort are freeze-dried rather than dehydrated by heating. This is a process of sublimation of the water out of the food in a controlled manner under very low temperature conditions. This is generally not practical at home due to the nature of the equipment needed.

However, it seems that the instant rice is dehydrated in ovens. I suspect that you could do it with quite a bit of experimentation by spreading rice out in a thin layer on some baking sheets and heating to around 60 Celsius until dried. This should be hot enough to prevent most bacteria from growing successfully. As you have used the commercially prepared versions before, you already know the texture and how you would prepare it after drying, so you could play around and see.

Personally I like to use instant couscous when hiking - it rapidly (1-2 min) hydrates on addition of just boiled water, and like rice is readily available, easily measured out into aliquots for pre-packaged meals, and can be transported in a package with salt and other dried ingredients for a rapid and filling meal.

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