Why is everyone talking about unpolished rice (brown rice) recently? Why are some of them red or even black? Read on to find out.
White rice* refers to rice which has its hull, bran and germ removed. Since the bran contains small amount of oil that can turn rancid, rice are polished to prolong its shelf life. However, this process also strips the rice of essential nutrients. And because
brown rice** has its bran and germ intact, it is considered as a
wholegrain and hence has a higher nutrition value.
*Polished rice will be known as white rice in the article.**Unpolished rice will be known as brown rice in the article.
There is a variety of
brown rice available in the market. The type and amount of colour pigments (anthocyanins) in the rice bran determines the colour of the rice. Similarly, the amount and type of aromatic compounds and fatty acids in different varieties of brown rice determines its unique flavour and aroma. Generally, brown rice has a nutty flavour and a chewy texture when cooked.
Brown Rice refers to rice that is unpolished where only the hull is removed. The health promoting and protective bran and fibre is retained in brown rice. Brown rice has a shelf life of six (6) months at room temperature.Red Rice contains a variety of anthocyanins that give its bran a red/maroon colour. Anthocyanin is an anti-oxidant that gives certain red-purple fruit and vegetables its colour. Red rice has a earthy and beany flavour. Red rice has a shelf life of about six (6) months at room temperature.Black Rice has a black coloured bran layer due to its unique anthocyanin combination and these anthocyanins cause black rice to turn into a deep purple colour when cooked. Anthocyanin is the same anti-oxidant that gives eggplants, and blueberries its deep purple.
In the past, black/purple rice was also known as forbidden rice because it was cultivated exclusively for Chinese emperors and forbidden to the Chinese commoners. Black rice has a shelf life of about six (6) months at room temperature.
Both white and brown rice contain similar amounts of energy, carbohydrates and protein. However, brown rice contains higher amount of vitamins, minerals and fibre. The bran of different wholegrain rice not only increases the fibre content but also contains a variety of colour pigments that may be beneficial for health. Given that different variety of brown rice contains different amount of nutrients and colour pigments, it may be a good idea to include a variety of them in your diet. This way, you can also enjoy a variety of flavour and texture too!Consuming a diet rich in
wholegrains, such as brown rice, is beneficial to health as it may lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancer. It can also help in weight management. Other than brown rice, other wholegrain options also include brown rice beehoon, wholemeal crackers and wholemeal bread.
You may ask, why is brown rice more expensive when it requires less processing? This difference in the cost of the rice can be due to several reasons:
However, if there is increased demand for brown rice, it is anticipated that the price of brown rice will fall.
As with white rice, brown rice comes in short, medium and long grain. Long grain tends to be more light and fluffy as well as separate when cooked. On the other hand, medium and short grains tend to cling together and are more chewy and tender when cooked. Chose the type that best suits your preference.
Store all uncooked brown rice in pest proof containers with lids. Uncooked brown rice can be stored at room temperature for up to 6 months. To prolong the shelf life of brown rice, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. In all circumstances, make use of the first-in-first-out rule to ensure good turnover and maximum freshness.
Cooked rice stored incorrectly can harbour a bacterium called
Bacillus cereus, which produces toxins that can cause food poisoning even after reheating. There are a few points you need to remember when storing and reheating cooked rice:
Many of us are familiar with the concept of cooking white rice. Cooking brown rice is similar, with the extra step of soaking the rice prior to cooking. Follow the cooking instructions on the rice package when cooking wholegrain rice for the amount of water needed, and the cooking time. As a rule of thumb, the more water you use for cooking, the softer the rice. You can also choose to use a brown rice friendly rice cooker because as part of the special features, these rice cookers indicate the specific amount of water needed to cook brown rice. Follow the directions on the rice cooker to yield the best results. Alternatively, you may use table 1 as a reference.
Table 1: Rice Cooking Chart
Soaking Time (hrs)
(if you prefer softer rice)
Water Ratio (cups)*
Cooking Time (min)
20 - 30
35 - 40
4.0 - 6.0
45 - 60
*Ratio of water to 1 cup of riceAs a rule of thumb, the more water you use for cooking, the softer the rice.
You can also choose to use a brown rice friendly rice cooker because as part of the special features, these rice cookers indicate the specific amount of water needed to cook brown rice. Follow the directions on the rice cooker to yield the best results.
This article was last reviewed on
22 Nov 2023
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