What is parboiled rice? We've got the answer - plus tips for making your own!
Parboiled rice is - in a nutshell - rice that has been partially cooked.
The term can be used in two different ways. One describes the parboiled rice you buy in stores, which is sometimes known as converted rice, or easy-cook rice. Parboiling, in this case, is a specific method of processing the rice grains once they've been harvested.
The term is also used to describe rice that you partially cook at home, in order to plan your meals ahead and save time in the kitchen.
Let's look at both definitions!
Parboiled / converted rice
To make brown rice, the inedible hulls of rice grains are removed after harvesting. To make white rice, the grains undergo a second stage of processing and the bran is removed too.
But parboiled rice is produced differently to both. The grains of rice are processed BEFORE the hulls are removed.
First the grains are soaked, then they are steamed and dried. THEN the hulls are removed, by which time many of their nutrients have been soaked up by the grains.
The starch in the rice has altered too, making the grains look transparent and producing less sticky rice once cooked.
The process changes the color of the rice, too, explaining why 'easy cook' rice has a light yellow color, whereas regular rice is white.
The purpose of parboiling rice is to give it a longer shelf life and make it quicker to cook. And the good news is, that's something you can do at home too!
Making parboiled rice at home
It's very easy to make your own parboiled rice and it's a real time-saver. Instead of having to use your rice cooker or rice pot at every meal, you can use your pre-portioned, partially cooked rice instead. This gives you perfect, fresh rice in just a couple of minutes!
The process is super simple and involves boiling uncooked rice in salted water for 5 minutes, then draining and cooling. You can then put the partially cooked grains into individual freezer bags - just be sure to press out all the air, so that you can stack them on top of each other.
The great thing about portioning out your rice in this way is that you can take out just as much as you need for the meal you're preparing. Portion control is also important for weight loss - if you cook what you need and no more, then you can't be tempted to have any extras!
Rice will keep well in the freezer for up to 3 months, then can be reheated in the microwave, right in the freezer bag. Just add a couple of tablespoons of water and cook until it's heated through (usually around 90 seconds or so).
And there you have it - the simple way to create your own 'easy-cook' rice for those busy days.