Recipe for a frigid Wednesday morning: Brew yourself a piping-hot drink. Read David Hagedorn’s take on how to cook sweet, meaty swordfish. Let Tim Carman introduce you to the folks behind the new Balkan restaurant on Capitol Hill. Resolve to eat more buckwheat, the healthful grain-that’s-not-a-grain.
Chat Leftovers: Freezing cooked rice
Then, properly edified, you’ll be ready for the Free Range chat at noon. It’s your weekly chance to tap the well of expertise that Food and see just how deep it really is. I tell you, folks, it is very deep indeed.
While you’re trying to come up with a question, suggestion or comment, here’s a leftover from last week’s chat:
I’ve been buying microwavable containers of rice at Trader Joe’s, both the shelf-stable and the ones that need to be frozen, because it’s nice to have hot basmati or brown rice in around 90 seconds. But is there a way I could cook the stuff myself when I have time and freeze it for later nuking, without it getting all yucky-tasting?
In a word, yes! Rice freezes beautifully. But there are different philosophies about the best way to get it done.
Here’s what the USA Rice Federation says: “Once the rice has been cooled, it can easily be frozen and stored for 6 to 8 months. To avoid sticking together while freezing, freeze the rice loose on trays and then transfer to deep freeze boxes or bags. . . . Remove from freezer 24 hours before use, thaw . . . To retherm, simply add 2 tablespoons of liquid for each cup of cooked rice. Cover and heat on the stove top or in the oven for about 5 minutes or until heated through, fluff and serve.”
But other folks have different techniques. For example, some people say you shouldn’t let the rice cool completely but should package it in small portions while it’s still a little warm, so it retains some moisture. That moisture will help it reheat nicely. Also, some people advise against freezing the rice uncovered on a tray because it dries the grains out too much. Some people say you shouldn’t freeze more than 1 cup of rice in a single packet, and others say it’s okay to freeze several cups of it. And some people say you shouldn’t let the frozen rice defrost — just microwave it straight out of the freezer in the freezer bag (if it’s a microwave-safe bag) or in another container.
So, as you can see, there are lots of dueling theories. One widely accepted idea, though, is that you should freeze the rice flat in plastic, pressing out as much of the air as possible. Also, I think it’s generally agreed that shorter-grain rice freezes a little better than the longer grains. And all ecologically correct folks will agree that instead of throwing out the plastic wrapping material, you should just use it again for your next batch of rice.
Experiment and find the method that works for you. I think it’s a great way to save time on busy weeknights.
— Jane Touzalin
— Jane Touzalin