Does Freezing Uncooked Rice Make It Last Longer?

For many people, rice is a pantry staple, something that you always have an available bag or box of. That's because it's an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of dishes. However, if you've had the same package of rice for as long as you can remember, you may want to reconsider reaching for it when you're next whipping up a quick meal — at least until you've double-checked that you should still be using it. That's because, while it can be stored for quite some time, it does go bad at a certain point.

Note that it does depend on what type of rice you're storing. As Healthline explains, white rice is shelf-stable for the longest, lasting up to two years when stored regularly at room temperature in your cabinet or pantry. The same is true for variations such as jasmine or basmati rice. Brown rice, on the other hand, will only keep for about three to six months. This is primarily because, unlike white rice, brown rice retains its natural oils, which can spoil over time.

If you've purchased rice in bulk or simply don't use it very often, you may be tempted to toss that uncooked rice in the freezer to preserve it longer — and it would be a good call. The chilly temperature helps keep those oils from going rancid and allows your brown rice to last up to 18 months, a serious improvement on the pantry storage times.

How to tell when it's time to discard your rice

So, now you know that box of brown rice that's been lingering in your pantry for as long as you can remember probably isn't still going to be the freshest. However, can you truly tell when your rice is spoiled and it's time to replace it with a new box? In most cases, yes. You just need to use your senses, as you would when gauging whether many other foods are expired.

First, Healthline suggests that you look out for any visual indicators of spoiling. This can include things like discoloration of the grains or, obviously, any bugs lingering within. Especially when dealing with brown rice, you'll also want to give it the sniff test — while it typically doesn't have much of an odor, if it has gone bad, you'll often catch a whiff of something rancid or just a little off. Finally, touch the grains to see if they feel oily, another tell-tale sign that the rice should be discarded.

If you want to ensure your uncooked rice lasts as long as possible, you should swap out the cardboard box or plastic bag the rice comes in and instead keep it in a tightly closed container, as this can help keep out both pests and moisture. And, if you have brown rice that's been in your pantry for a few months, it may be time to transfer the container to the freezer, just in case.