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How to Tell if Rice Is Bad

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Rice is one of the essential sources of carbohydrates. This starchy cereal grain is a seed from cereal that can be used in many recipes and turned into various products. Not to mention, rice has become one of the oldest and most popular staple foods in Southeast Asia, India, and China.

However, like most food, rice will turn bad over time. But it’s not like processed or manufactured goods that are readily labeled with expiration dates or shelf-life.

So, how do you tell if rice is bad?

There are a few tell-tale signs that could indicate whether rice is bad or spoiled.

Spoiled cooked rice is easy to spot. You instantly could smell an unpleasant odor coming from it. There are also texture changes such as a loss of moisture that will make the rice turn flakier, rougher, and drier, or excess moisture that would make the rice slimy.

Top view of long grain rice in a wicker basket

You could also do a little bit of tasting and find that spoiled cooked rice will taste sour. And more importantly, if you spot any presence of bluish, greenish, or dark spots in or around the rice, it simply indicates that there is a growth of mold.

Hence, there is no reason for you to keep it any longer.

As for uncooked rice, you can easily look at the expiration date on the package to know whether the rice is still safe to be used or has expired.

On some rare occasions, rice can also turn bad before the expiry date labeled on the pack. So, the safest way to know its condition is to look for a few signs you can find in spoiled cooked rice.

If it is giving off a weird smell, then the rice is bad. If you notice the presence of bugs and mold, then the rice should be discarded. Uncooked rice can also turn slimy if there’s excess moisture which would often change the texture and promote the growth of bacteria and foreign organisms.

Cooked rice that is still good and safe to consume should have a firm texture.

What Does Bad Rice Smell Like?

Bad rice doesn’t smell like your normal or newly packed rice. It produces a sour or pungent smell from the contamination of bacteria or mold.

two scoops of cooked white rice

In some cases, bad rice can also smell like a fish with a musty odor. Any presence of an unpleasant smell is an obvious sign that your rice is spoiled.

Brown rice can also produce an unpleasant nutty smell when it turns bad.

As for uncooked rice, you may notice a rancid smell that comes from the growth of mold and bacteria, especially if they’re exposed to dampness or moisture for too long.

This is one of the main reasons why you should always keep your rice in an airtight container or dry space.

How Long Until Rice Goes Bad?

Depending on the type of rice you have or intend to buy, its longevity or shelf life may vary.

For instance, cooked rice goes bad faster than uncooked rice. On average, cooked rice can last around 4 to 6 days when kept in a fridge.

It is also advisable for you to put extra or leftover cooked rice inside a fridge within 1 to 2 hours after it’s cooked. This is because if you leave it outside or in an open plate or wet container, there is a chance that bacteria can grow and start to produce toxins.

On the other hand, brown rice won’t last as long as white rice due to the presence of oil inside of it.

On average, you can safely keep brown rice inside a fridge for 2 to 5 days after which it may become spoiled.

As for uncooked rice or dry rice, they would often last much longer than cooked rice. Uncooked white rice can last up to 2 years, provided that it is being kept in an airtight or closed container without any contamination and moisture from both inside and outside environments.

Meanwhile, uncooked brown rice can only last for up to 6 months. Therefore, the shelf-life of your rice will depend on the type of rice—cooked or uncooked, and is it white rice, or brown rice?

Asian woman eating the rice

What Happens if You Eat Bad Rice?

Eating bad rice is one of the main causes of food poisoning. This is also applicable to cooked rice that has been reheated a few times.

Spoiled rice is a host for mold, fungi, and bacteria known as Bacillus cereus. These organisms can produce mycotoxins that can induce vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pains while compromising your immune system.

Worst case scenario, eating bad rice can lead to convulsions, coma, and increase the risk of someone getting cancer. At this point, there is no reason you should eat bad rice, even if you’re thinking of saving money or feeling bad about throwing away leftover food.

The best and safest way to eat rice is right after it is cooked and still hot. If you’re thinking of reheating it, don’t reheat the rice more than once before you consume all that’s left over.

How Long Does Cooked Rice Last?

There are two ways to keep cooked rice so it can last longer. You can either keep it in the fridge or in the freezer.

Cooked rice that is kept in the fridge can last around 4 to 6 days. However, if you choose to keep it in the freezer, it can last for as long as 6 to 8 months.

Freezing cooked rice is the best way to preserve it for an exceptionally long time. In fact, there is no chance for bacteria to grow inside the freezer. You can defrost the frozen rice whenever you decide to cook and then eat it.

Cooking rice in a pot

Does Rice Expire?

Believe it or not, some types of rice can last for an exceedingly long time, provided that there is no contamination that can spoil them where the rice is kept.

White rice and brown rice do expire. As mentioned before, brown rice has the shortest lifespan even if it’s kept inside the fridge.

At most, uncooked brown rice will last as long as 6 to 12 months and uncooked white rice can last as long as 2 years.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything to extend its shelf life. You can keep brown rice in the freezer such that if properly kept, it can last up to as long as 18 months! This is also applicable to white rice and other types of rice.

But if you don’t like the idea of freezing the rice and having to defrost it later, you can opt for other types of rice that have longer and indefinite shelf life such as wild rice and basmati rice.

The Differences Between Brown Rice, White Rice, and Wild Rice

Rice comes in different varieties, shapes, and forms. The most popular and commonly eaten rice in the entire world is white rice.

However, there are also a few other rice types that can be consumed and used in different recipes. Some of such other rice types are brown rice and wild rice. So, what makes each one of them differ from the other? Let’s take a closer look.

White Rice

Cooked white rice garnished with mint

White rice contains a low amount of nutrients compared to brown rice due to the removal of its outer layers called husk and bran, and the core called the germ. What’s left is only the endosperm.

However, this process also makes white rice much softer and easier to cook than other rice varieties. Without these parts, white rice also lasts longer than brown rice.

Brown Rice

Raw Organic Volcano Brown Rice in a Bowl

Unlike white rice, brown rice has all the nutritional parts such as husk, bran, and endosperm. For this reason, brown rice contains some nutrients that white rice lacks such as thiamine. It also has a higher nutrient composition compared to white rice. There are many health benefits that you can get just by switching over to brown rice.

For instance, brown rice is good for diabetic people due to its ability to reduce blood glucose levels. It can also reduce your risk of getting cardiovascular diseases as well as reduce inflammation and free radicals through the antioxidants found in its content.

However, this doesn’t mean that brown rice doesn’t have its own cons. Brown rice contains traces of arsenic and compounds called antinutrients that can inhibit your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

This is not a cause for concern. As long as you eat brown rice in moderation, it won’t harm or cause risks to your health.

Wild Rice

wild rice in spoon on old wooden table

Wild rice is an edible grain that can be found along the Gulf Coast and the Connecticut River. It contains a higher percentage of nutrients like protein, potassium, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and phosphorus compared to both white and brown rice.

Another interesting thing about wild rice is that this grain produces a nutty and earthy flavor. However, due to its bigger size and the thickness of its outer layer, you might need to cook it a bit longer for its texture to become soft.

Final Thoughts

Aside from carbohydrates, rice is also packed with other nutrients such as magnesium, iron, protein, calcium, and vitamin B6. But all these nutrients won’t do any good if the rice is spoiled and contaminated.

So, keep your rice clean, and fresh, and throw it away as soon as you notice any changes in its odor and texture. Consuming spoiled rice comes with the risk of food poisoning.