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Freezing Brown Rice 101

in Prepping Series

Many people have asked more about my freezing brown rice technique.  It’s actually quite simple, but I thought I’d share the details because, of course, anything frozen can quickly become frost-bitten and gross if you don’t do it just so.

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Here’s the deets on freezing brown rice (or any type of grain, for that matter):

 

WHY

Why freeze brown rice?  Well, brown rice takes for-ev-er to cook.  And during the week, that’s a pain in the butt come dinnertime.

Seriously. For-ev-er.

But when you pre-cook and freeze brown rice, all you have to do is re-heat it for dinner.  It’s a real sanity- and time-saver.  And it tastes virtually the same.

 

HOW

Again – it’s a pretty easy process.  Step 1:  Measure out your rice and water.  You’ll want about 1.5 cups of water for every 1 cup of dry brown rice.  I make about 4 cups dry at a time.  Step 2:  Combine rice and water in a large pot, cover, and turn to high heat.   Bring to boil.  Step 3:  Turn to medium-low, remove cover, and let simmer for about 20 – 25 minutes.  Step 4:  Once most of the water is gone (you should only see a bit of water in the bottom of the pot when you move the rice around with a spoon), turn off heat, give the rice a stir, and let stand for 5 minutes. 

 

Step 6 is very important.  Spread the still-hot rice on a cookie sheet or casserole dish so it can FULLY cool off and any remaining moisture can evaporate.  I usually let it sit out for an hour or so.  Then, scoop into tightly sealable tupperware or plastic freezer bags and place in freezer.  Edited to add:  I forgot to mention that you should freeze the brown rice in the amounts you want to reheat it or it becomes a big chunk of ricey goodness.

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REHEATING

Now, of course, comes the important part: reheating the frozen brown rice.

 

I’ve found that the method that works best is to place the frozen brown rice in a wok, turn the heat to medium, add a bit of olive oil or butter and a few tablespoons of water, and stir-fry.   You could also microwave but the texture wouldn’t be quite the same.

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What healthy cooking timesavers do you use? 

{ 56 comments }

 

Leave a Comment

  • Heather @ Bake, Run, Live November 6, 2011, 5:46 pm

    Have someone else make it :)
    I plan the menu and my boyfriend cooks dinner- so it’s ready (or almost ready) when I walk in the door at night. It’s wonderful!
    If we are having chili or soup, then I will make it on Sunday (while he watches football), so all he has to do is re-heat it or add the finishing touches when we have it during the week. Works out well.

    Reply
    • Caitlin November 6, 2011, 7:03 pm

      I need chili. STAT.

      Reply
      • AmandaonMaui November 6, 2011, 7:23 pm

        I really love the chilis in The Gluten Free Vegan cookbook. It’s one of the best cookbooks I’ve bought.

        Reply
  • Amanda (modernation) November 6, 2011, 5:55 pm

    I really should do this. I buy the frozen brown rice from Trader Joes or Costco, but this would save a lot of money.

    Reply
    • Caitlin November 6, 2011, 7:02 pm

      The TJ’s frozen brown rice is so good, though. Love the texture.

      Reply
  • Luv What You Do November 6, 2011, 5:57 pm

    Excellent idea. That is much cheaper than buying the frozen type.

    Reply
  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) November 6, 2011, 6:00 pm

    I love freezing my brown rice. Definitely a huge time saver. I cook bags of dried beans in my pressure cooker (don’t be scared) and freeze them so I can use them in soups and stews quickly. Besides, I can control the sodium too!

    Reply
    • AmandaonMaui November 6, 2011, 7:24 pm

      I love my pressure cooker for beans too. The newer models of pressure cookers don’t rattle, and are completely safe. The lid on mine slides under the rim, so there’s no way it can blow off.

      Reply
  • Abby @ Abz 'n' Oats November 6, 2011, 6:05 pm

    I like to make quinoa ahead of time and have it on hand in the fridge.

    Reply
  • Evan Thomas November 6, 2011, 6:10 pm

    This is a great idea. I’ll have to try it with quinoa next time I make a big batch. I go through it fast but there’s always some that I need to throw away at the end of the week.

    Reply
  • Angela November 6, 2011, 6:11 pm

    I love my stash of frozen brown rice. I’m apparently incapable of cooking it on the stove so use this oven method instead:

    http://kitchen-parade-veggieventure.blogspot.com/2006/03/by-request-cooks-illustrateds.html

    Take a bit longer but always works.

    Reply
    • Caitlin November 6, 2011, 7:02 pm

      That sounds awesome. Especially those giant pads of butter.

      Reply
  • kathleen @ the daily crumb November 6, 2011, 6:12 pm

    i actually never even thought to freeze brown rice… this is a great tip, though because we always end up with so much extra post-takout.

    my winter timesaver is the slow cooker — soup, chili, stew… all make tons of leftovers and easy to freeze.

    Reply
  • Courtney @ The Petite AthlEAT November 6, 2011, 6:14 pm

    This is ingenious!!!! Thank you for sharing. :)

    Reply
    • Caitlin November 6, 2011, 7:01 pm

      You’re welcome!

      Reply
  • Lindsey November 6, 2011, 6:43 pm

    On the weekends I make a double batch of quinoa to use throughout the week – for breakfasts, lunches or as a supper side! Saves lots of time :)

    Reply
    • Caitlin November 6, 2011, 7:01 pm

      There can never been too much quinoa!

      Reply
  • Briana November 6, 2011, 6:57 pm

    Extremely helpful! Thanks Caitlin!

    Reply
  • Amanda November 6, 2011, 6:58 pm

    I don’t usually do this with brown rice (although it’s a great idea!), but I’ll generally cook huge batches of dried beans and store them in the fridge or freezer for quick week-night meals. Saves a ton of time and $$ since I’m not using the canned beans.

    Reply
  • chelsey @ clean eating chelsey November 6, 2011, 7:02 pm

    I’ve actually never done this before and I don’t know why! Such a great idea!

    Reply
  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat November 6, 2011, 7:09 pm

    Great tip Caitlin! I like to cook up a big batch of grains at the beginning of the week (like quinoa, rice, wheatberries etc – or sometimes a mix of everything) and toss it with veggies or whatever I feel like having in my lunch. I never get tired of grain-based salads when I can mix in different proteins and dressings each day.

    Reply
  • Amanda November 6, 2011, 7:12 pm

    Thanks for posting about this, I see you talk about freezing rice a lot but never knew how to do that. Such a time saver!

    Reply
  • AmandaonMaui November 6, 2011, 7:21 pm

    Hahaha! I love that part of that movie. Whenever I say it my boyfriend doesn’t really get it. For-ever, for-ever, for-ever…

    It’s interesting that you use 1.5:1 ratio. Most brown rice recipes I’ve seen use a 2:1 ratio and cook for about 40-45 minutes. That’s short grain brown rice.

    You could also freeze it in plastic bags in the freezer. Just make sure they’re sealed well and are freezer bags. Check out this rice freezing tutorial on Just Bento.

    http://justbento.com/handbook/bento-basics/how-freezing-preportioned-rice

    You can also utilize her other tip of using a long chopstick or ruler to create break points for easy portioning.

    We always make extra food and freeze it in those glasslock containers so we can quickly heat up lunches. That way in the middle of a busy day we don’t have to worry about cooking something or eating something unhealthful.

    Reply
  • Tracy November 6, 2011, 7:32 pm

    My favorite healthy time-saver without a doubt is the crockpot! I break it out almost every weekend. Love!

    Reply
  • Theresa November 6, 2011, 7:38 pm

    If you microwave it, you need to cover it with a moist paper towel. It will come out perfectly! This goes for leftover refrigerated brown/white rice also. A little Asian trick for ya ;)

    Reply
  • Julia H. @ The Petite Spiel November 6, 2011, 7:42 pm

    Somehow I never thought of making a big brown rice batch & freezing it, but that makes so much sense! I’ll definitely try this out. Until then, though, I’ll keep using those 10-minute brown rice boil-in-bags :)

    Reply
  • Karolina November 6, 2011, 8:17 pm

    I try to cut up veggies on Sunday night that will last at least half the week. I too cook rice in advance, or make lots of extra servings of dinners and freeze so it’s easy to make during the week. I cook the most on the weekends, and pretty much just reheat during the week!

    Reply
  • Jess @JessCantCook November 6, 2011, 8:18 pm

    I’d never even thought about trying this! Definitely a time and money saver, thank you for posting!

    Reply
  • Rachel @ Balance and Blueberries November 6, 2011, 8:50 pm

    This is amazing. I freeze berries and veggies when they are in season/on sale, but I never thought about doing the same thing with grains. Thanks for the idea and the how to!

    Reply
  • sonia the mexigarian November 6, 2011, 9:28 pm

    the sandlot has to be one of the best movies ever. :D have time managment issues… but i do like making batches of beans ahead of ime and freezing them .

    Reply
  • Dana November 6, 2011, 9:34 pm

    A rice cooker. Emily on Daily Garnish raved about them so I finally bought a cheap one. Now I don’t know how I lived without it. Brown rice, millet, quinoa, kale… you just come in from work, throw it in the rice cooker, and flip the switch. Then you could do anything! Work out, take a nap, clean the house, read a book, whatever and then dinner’s ready!

    Reply
  • Maria @ Beautiful Busy Bee November 6, 2011, 9:38 pm

    Thats so convenient!! I like to make brown rice in the oven and freeze bread and cookies. :) Also, frozen edamame is a really easy protein source for salads and soups and such!

    Reply
  • maria @ Chasing the Now November 6, 2011, 9:45 pm

    I find brown rice can reheat well in the microwave, but the trick is to use a bowl with a lid that you can just barely leave open to allow some moisture to stay in the container. It won’t come out dry this way.

    Reply
  • Marla November 6, 2011, 10:19 pm

    A while back I recommended freezing brown rice in your comments in the post where you were using a precooked
    Lundsberg prepared brown rice),
    Wondering if you took my advice, if so I would feel flattered you took my tip :)

    Reply
    • Caitlin November 6, 2011, 10:21 pm

      I can’t remember what was the impetus! It might’ve been your awesome suggestion :) I started doing this when I was writing the HTP book and researching ways to save time in the kitch and LOVE IT. You def know your cooking stuff.

      Reply
      • Marla November 6, 2011, 11:01 pm

        Sounds like many of us are freezing brown rice,
        as it seems to be a long time practise for so many!
        I find having single portions ready to go so
        awesome.
        I often just throw my rice into the dish I am making to reheat it(like spicy kale with beans)
        and needed no water or frying this way.I will confess I have microwaved it a few times in a pinch and worked great too….
        I cool my rice a bit too, but not for an hour as
        I hear it’s not good re food safety but i could be wrong?

        Reply
  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife November 6, 2011, 10:28 pm

    Very cool. Thanks for the tips!

    My healthy cooking time saver is making double/triple quantities of some dinners and freezing them <—aka mexican enchiladas, lasagna, pizzas. SO fast and my husband loves this!

    Reply
  • marisa November 6, 2011, 11:18 pm

    hey Caitlin, you could try steaming to heat it up. makes the rice moist and fluffy!

    Reply
  • Jenn November 7, 2011, 12:05 am

    Have you ever used chicken or vegetable broth in making your rice? Gives it tons of flavor… though not so good if you want to use your rice for a breakfast dish….

    Reply
  • Amber K November 7, 2011, 12:37 am

    I haven’t actually frozen brown rice yet. I do make it ahead of time in my rice cooker and then keep it in the fridge for eating on throughout the week. It never seems to make it past a week so I haven’t thought about freezing. But it’s such a pain to remember to make, I should!

    Reply
  • Tasha - The Clean Eating Mama November 7, 2011, 12:58 am

    Thank you so much for this post! This will be such a time saver!!!
    XxOo

    Reply
  • Khushboo November 7, 2011, 1:29 am

    Wow I actually never thought you could freeze brown rice, especially after hearing that leaving it in the refrigerator for a few days can foster bacteria! Thanks for this!

    Reply
  • Kristin @ STUFT Mama November 7, 2011, 1:53 am

    OH, I love this! I usually buy the bags from Costco of frozen brown rice. Now I need to make my own. I freeze everything!!! I may have a bit of a problem! :)

    Reply
  • Katie November 7, 2011, 2:32 am

    I freeze brown rice all the time – only I read it’s super important that you freeze the rice while it is still piping hot! Then you can microwave it to reheat and you wouldn’t know it from fluffy fresh cooked rice! Funny how the *critical* points in both are the opposite :)

    Reply
  • Sarah@The Flying ONION November 7, 2011, 7:13 am

    I always freeze brown rice too! Such a time saver. :D

    I freeze a lot of different things. One of my favorites is basil. In the summer, I toss dry, whole leaves of basil into a container. When I want to use it in a sauce, I crumble them right in, no chopping required. Couldn’t be easier. :D

    Reply
  • Dana @ the Big Fat Skinny November 7, 2011, 7:31 am

    I like the brown rice tip, but CANNOT believe that only ONE person other than myself commented on the Sandlot Clip! One of the best movies ever!

    Reply
  • Emily November 7, 2011, 8:35 am

    That is really helpful. Especially for those nights when I don’t have as much time to make our dinner. Plus buying the frozen bags from TJs can get expensive!

    Reply
  • Lauren November 7, 2011, 8:49 am

    I’ve been wondering if I could freeze brown rice! The hubs just realized he likes it too! It’s such a pain to wait while it cooks, I usually turn the heat way up to save time and end up with less than stellar results. I can’t wait to make a big batch!

    Reply
  • Becky @ Fit Chick on the Fly November 7, 2011, 8:51 am

    This is super helpful! Thank you!! I suck at cooking brown rice, I usually try to make it in my rice cooker, and it never comes out as good as the white Jasmine rice that I love!

    Reply
  • Jessica November 7, 2011, 10:31 am

    I read somewhere (I can’t remember where), that you can boil rice like you boil pasta- just add the rice to boiling water and let it go until it’s the right texture. I tried it and it TOTALLY works! I’ve never been able to get cooking rice quite right (either too much water left, not enough water, didn’t cook long enough, etc), so this really works well for me. It’s so much easier for me, I don’t think I can go back to the traditional way of cooking rice!

    Reply
  • Laura November 7, 2011, 4:35 pm

    I’ve never been able to cook brown rice in only 25 minutes and have it be done. It’s usually takes 50 minutes +, 25 doesn’t sound very bad (most meals I make take about an hour to make, so 25 minutes is entirely doable).

    Reply
    • Caitlin November 7, 2011, 4:53 pm

      I wonder if its the type of brown rice I get? I think its short grain?

      Reply
  • Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) November 7, 2011, 7:48 pm

    Cool – I have never thought to freeze brown rice. We always make a big batch at the start of the week, because it is such a pain and takes forever to cook.

    Reply
  • Dominique November 9, 2011, 10:50 pm

    The BF (or rather, fiancé) and I just moved in together and since he gets home earlier than me, he gets things ready and I finish the meal when I get home. Sometimes he texts to ask what I want and then has dinner ready for me when I get home. It’s quite nice. I clean up afterwards so it’s a nice switch–whoever cooks doesn’t have go clean.

    Reply

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