Can Brown Rice Go Bad? How To Identify & Prevent Spoilage

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Are you wondering whether you should stock up on brown rice for a possible zombie apocalypse? While you may think brown rice should be a staple in every underground bunker, it may surprise you that brown rice’s shelf life is quite different from that of white rice.

So, can brown rice go bad? Yes, it can. Brown rice has a higher fat content because it’s not milled or polished like white rice. If exposed to air, the oil in brown rice can oxidize and become rancid. However, there are ways you can prolong brown rice’s shelf life and avoid any food waste.

How long will uncooked brown rice last?

Brown rice can last for 3-6 months after the manufacturing date. However, if stored properly, it can last up to 6 months after the expiration date.

Where brown rice only lasts a few months, white rice can last up to 2 years at room temperature if stored well.

To store brown rice correctly, make sure the package is sealed and place it in a cool, dry place. After opening, store it in an air-tight container to shield it from moisture, pests, and air.

Signs You Should Not Eat Brown Rice

If your rice shows any of the following signs of spoilage, you shouldn’t eat it.

Discoloration. If your brown rice has dark spots, white spots, or has turned blue, fungi have taken over. Any type of discoloration in rice is a sign that you should NOT eat it.

Funky smell. A rotten or funny smell can mean that the bran oil in brown rice has gone bad. While consuming small amounts of rancid fat won’t do any harm, larger amounts can cause inflammation in the body and lead to digestive upset.

Oily texture. When the oil separates from the rest of the rice kernel, it’ll have an oily texture. Oily rice is good when making fried rice, plov, or paella, but raw rice should never be oily.

Warning Signs That Apply To Both Brown and White Rice

The following red flags apply to both brown and white rice.

Holes in the package. If the package is broken, chances are either moisture or pests got to it. Insects or creatures like mice can introduce bacteria, fungi, or chemicals like urine that people shouldn’t consume.

Rice worms. Always check for bugs – even if you don’t see any holes in the package. Rice worms, called rice weevil larvae, can be difficult to notice due to their minuscule size, but if you look closely, you will see the rice appears to be moving.  

Note: You don’t have to throw the rice away if you’re not completely disgusted by the worms’ presence. Cooking it for long enough will kill any worms or bugs, turning them into a harmless source of extra protein.

Mold. Many types of mold can grow on cooked and raw brown rice. Aspergillus section flavi is among the most dangerous kinds of mold. This fungus, known also as aflatoxin, can even cause cancer. Its color can vary from yellow-green to brown shades, so your safest bet is to throw any moldy rice away.

Water or dampness. Bacteria and fungi love to hang out wherever there’s water or moisture. If your brown rice is damp, chances are it’s become a nesting ground for some harmful bacteria.

Wild rice in brown. Food story.

How To Increase Brown Rice’s Shelf Life

You can store brown rice in the fridge or freezer to extend its shelf life. It can last 6-8 months in the refrigerator and up to a year (or even two) in the freezer. Just make sure you store it in an airtight bag or container to keep moisture out.

Another way to increase brown rice’s shelf life is to pick a reliable rice brand that meets high-quality standards. Higher quality rice is less likely to have been contaminated before it reached your home. Lower-quality rice brands may not seal their product well, irradiate it to kill insect eggs, protect it from moisture, or may have otherwise exposed the rice to pests.

As a rule of thumb, you should always check your rice for signs of spoilage. After all, there’s nothing less fun than food poisoning.

How Long Does Cooked Brown Rice Last in the Fridge?

We’ve already covered how long dried brown rice lasts, how to increase its shelf-life, and how to tell when it’s gone rancid. What about cooked brown rice?

Cooked brown rice and cooked white rice will last about 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Storing leftover rice in the refrigerator will slow down bacteria growth but not stop it. So, it’s best to throw out any uneaten leftover rice after five days.

It’s also important to transfer leftover rice to the fridge within 2 hours after cooking. Otherwise, heat-resistant bacteria called Bacillus cereus will start multiplying and can cause food poisoning.

If you don’t plan on finishing cooked rice within 4 days, you can store it in the freezer for up to 8 months. While this method might seem fantastic to keep cooked rice from going bad, I’m not a fan of freezing rice because it becomes a soggy mass after reheating.

Brown rice in a dish.

How Do You Know If Cooked Rice Is Spoiled?

Freshly cooked rice doesn’t have much of a smell, whereas spoiled brown or white rice has an unpleasant odor. It can also become slimy or gooey and lose its fluffy texture.

Worst case scenario, you’ll see some fuzzy mold growing on the rice. Since we’re not talking about blue cheese, mold is unwelcome here and is a sure sign you should throw the rice away.

Key Takeaways

So, can you eat out-of-date dried rice? Yes, as long as you don’t find any signs of spoilage. It’s relatively easy to tell whether rice has gone bad. Just use your senses.

Make sure to throw out dry or cooked rice as soon as you notice any changes in the smell, taste, or texture. Better safe than sorry!

If you’re preparing for an apocalypse, I’d recommend stocking up on white rice. Brown rice may have more nutrients but is less sturdy than its finer white rice cousin.

In your opinion, what is the best way to store brown rice? Share your experience in the comments below, and let’s get the discussion rolling!

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