Whether you’re making fried rice, Spanish rice, or rice pudding, rice is one of the most versatile foods, but what is the shelf life of rice?
Most households consume rice as a staple due to its high caloric value, versatility, and low-cost nutritional qualities. When uncooked, it can last for a long time compared to other foods. However, buying and storing a lot of rice can leave you wondering whether rice goes bad.
The shelf life of rice when stored under the right conditions is 30 years when sealed without oxygen. White rice like basmati and Jasmin has 4-5 years of shelf life in-store packaging. Black, brown, and purple rice have a shelflife in-store packaging of about 3-6 months.
While most uncooked rice has an indefinite shelf life, the wrong storage methods can quickly make your rice go bad. Read on to learn more about how long common types of rice last, storage methods to prolong shelf life, and signs of spoilage for both cooked and uncooked rice.
Having done our research from authoritative sources like the United States Department of Agriculture and FDA and sourcing information from renowned food safety sites.
What is the Shelf Life of Rice?
The period rice lasts on its storage, packaging, type of rice, and whether it’s raw or cooked.
However, when properly stored, the shelf life of white rice is approximately four to five years, while oxygen-free white rice can last for up to 30 years.
Additionally, cooked white rice can last for seven days in the refrigerator and up to eight months in the freezer.
Raw brown rice lasts for six to eight months, and you can also toss it in the refrigerator for up to 12 months. Brown-cooked rice lasts for five days in the fridge and up to eight months in the freezer. Wild rice also lasts the same time as brown rice.
In general, Brown rice or whole grain rice has oil in the bran layer, shortening its shelf life as the oils oxidize and spoil the rice. Freezer or refrigerator storage helps prolong its shelf life. If you’re thinking of getting rice for long-term storage, white rice is a better option as it doesn’t have husks that could spoil.
Wild rice is semi-aquatic long-grain rice that grows on tidal rivers and shallow lakes. It has inedible and hard husks, which makes it challenging to process. Research done by the University of Minnesota reveals that although wild rice has a long shelf life, it’s not something most people would consider buying for storage.
When purchasing rice, it’s best to look for high-quality rice. Avoid any broken rice and opt for long or short-grain varieties.
How Can You Store Rice for Long-Term?
Rice should be stored in a cool, dry place in a tight plastic bag or closed container. The trick to storing rice is to ensure it’s in a dry place away from bugs and other contaminants.
You can also store rice in the freezer, but you’ll need to transfer it to a freezer resealable bag or an airtight container. Ensure the bags don’t have air, leading to freezer burn.
Storing cooked rice isn’t difficult. The idea is to allow it to cool down before putting it into the fridge. You can set the cooked rice in a freezer bag if you're considering long-term storage. Remember to remove any excess air from the bags and seal them before placing them in the freezer.
Another way to extend the cooked rice shelf life is to wash it before cooking. Washing removes the excess starch and ensures your rice doesn’t get sticky or clump, making it spoil faster. Also, using a lot of water when cooking rice only makes it soggy and could lead to spoilage.
You can defrost frozen rice by thawing it in the refrigerator, placing it on low heat on a non-stick pan, or using the microwave.
Does Rice Expire?
Whether you’re buying white, brown, or another rice variety, you’ll notice that each label has a date. The date is not an expiration date, but best-by.
That means that the date shows the food quality, unlike the expiration date, which is more about food safety.
When shopping for white rice, ensure that the date is reasonable. It should be okay to purchase for months and years past the date indicated. Brown rice should be fine for a couple of extra months, but you need to be careful as it can go rancid past the eighth month.
However, you should be careful as uncooked rice can also get spoiled.
How Can You Tell if Rice Has Gone Bad?
There are different signs that your rice is spoiled. Here are some ways to tell if dry rice is unsafe to eat.
Changes in Color
When you notice a change in the rice color or any discoloration, you need to discard the rice. You may also see a texture change. The rice will get dry and crumbly. It can also get clumpy and stick together when exposed to high humidity.
Presence of Mold
Another sign that your dry rice has gone bad is the presence of mold. Throw it away immediately. Check if the package has water or dampness, which could also trigger mold growth.
Bugs in the package
If you notice that the rice package has pantry bugs or pests, it’s time to discard the rice. Check if other food products have also been infested as pantry pests quickly spread to other foods.
Rice weevils and meal moths feed on these grains and can lay eggs in the rice, making it unsafe to consume. One common sign of insect infestation is that rice will turn dusty.
If your rice has a moldy or off smell, that indicates that your rice has gone bad. Rancid rice smells like old paint or chemicals and should also be discarded.
It’s also possible to tell if cooked rice is spoiled. If you’ve stored it for a long time, that’s past five days; it’s not safe to reheat and consume. Rotten rice will also have a weird smell and may have signs of mold or discoloration on top.
About THE AUTHOR
I have over a decade of experience in food and beverage management, including a ServSafe food safety qualification. As part of this qualification, I have been professionally trained in safe food storage.Read More About Mark Walker