Reminder: This blog for people who are eating, or who want to eat, a whole food, plant based diet to prevent and/or reverse coronary artery disease, and other diseases caused by the Standard American Diet, as described by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn in the documentary “Forks Over Knives,” and his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. The food is from these categories: all vegetables except avocado, all legumes, all whole grains and products made from 100% whole grains (no added fats), and all fruits.
I described in a previous post how it’s useful to make some foods in batches, and which foods work well as batches for me. Hopefully, you will create your own batchmaking process, for foods you like which are amenable to it.
My granny taught me a way to cook white rice which keeps the grains separate so they are never gummy. She didn’t measure the water, she just used plenty. She boiled it for 15 minutes, drained and rinsed it under the cold water faucet, and then double boiled it for 15 minutes.
That was the recipe for white rice, of course, back in the 1950’s and ’60’s. I have adapted it for brown rice, and for making a batch. I used to save the first quart of water from straining the rice after cooking to use as a broth. It is good for cooking greens. If you have any qualms about using rice-water as a broth, realize that if you had cooked the rice in the standard way, absorbing all the water, you would have eaten everything in the rice-water anyway; however, when you discard the rice water, you get rid of some of the arsenic in the rice. Arsenic—in RICE??? WHA A A A T? I know, I was shocked, too. Turns out, another of those messing-with-Mother-Nature unintended consequences, where pesticides which contained arsenic were used back in the day and built up in rice fields, especially in the South. Californians did not use those pesticides so much, and the folks at Lundberg Farms monitor their rice to make sure it falls below the FDA limit of arsenic. There’s always something to worry about, isn’t there?
I originally cooked a few cups of rice at a time, but then I tried cooking a whole bag of Lundberg California-grown Brown Rice because we ate it up so fast. After a while, this got cumbersome and we didn’t eat that much, so I settled on half a bag, which is two cups of dry rice, making two and a half quarts. I also quit saving the rice water, but I’ll describe the method in case you want to try using the rice water as broth.
Pour the dry rice into a 6-quart pot of boiling water, stir it with a whisk occasionally, and taste it after 35-40 minutes (set the timer) at a low boil, uncovered (more vigorous than a simmer, to keep the grains moving so they won’t stick to the bottom of the pan.) That’s the easy part. Take some rice grains out to taste for doneness before you pour out.
If you want to save the first quart of rice water, I’ll describe the way I did it, although I don’t do this anymore. I decided it was better to use low-salt veggie broth and just discard the rice water.
To save a quart of rice water: first, set up your straining-the-rice apparatus. I use a screen strainer which will sit in my trusty funnel, which will in turn sit in a quart wide-mouth Mason jar. The jar itself I put in the sink, and stabilize it on a plate. So, plate, jar, funnel, strainer.
After you catch the first quart of rice water, the rice is going to be rinsed with running water from the sink faucet, allowed to drain in a strainer, and then spooned into jars while damp. Another stand-alone strainer is used for all but the first-pass rice. See Tools.
I’ll describe my process in detail: Set up the rice-straining apparatus in the sink (plate, quart jar, funnel, screen strainer). Pick up the hot pot with rice and, need I say carefully, pour one quart of the hot water into the strainer (which will catch some rice), watching the quart under the strainer so you can stop pouring when the quart is full of rice-water. Set the pot down on the stove top or counter while you cap the quart jar and move it to the counter. I pick up the jar by the plastic cap after I tighten it enough. That jar is hot!
Rinse the rice you caught in the first strainer and then set it aside on the counter in the funnel over another quart jar to catch remaining water, which you will discard. That done, go back to the pot and run cold water from the faucet into the pot to stop the rice cooking as well as rinse and cool it. Now the job is to finish rinsing and jarring the rest of the rice remaining in the big pot. You’ll need another screen strainer which can stand alone for this part (pictured below in the big colander). Place the strainer in a big colander in the sink, for stability and to allow the water to drain away. Dump the rice from the big pot into the second stand-alone strainer. Run cold water from the faucet over the rice, moving the strainer around under the running water to rinse it well. If you’ve cooked a whole bag of rice, you’ll jar it as the strainer gets full and repeat.
After you get the rice rinsed and strained, use a big spoon to scoop it into quart jars, and don’t pack it down. Leave it loose so the grains stay separate. Four cups of dry rice makes four to five quarts. Two cups (half a bag of Lundberg) makes three and a half quarts.
For those of us who would rather make rice more often in an easier softer way, and not save any of the rice water, just put a large colander on a plate in the sink, put the stand-alone screen strainer in the colander, and pour the cooked rice from the 6 quart pot into the strainer, and then rinse it in the faucet water. Run cold water all around the rice pile in the strainer and let all the water go down the drain. The picture below shows this set-up without the rice. If I’m making two dry cups, it will all fit in the strainer I have, which measures 8.5 inches in diameter and 3.5 inches in height. The colander measures 11 in. x 5.5 in.
Some rice will refuse to come out of the pot, so just keep running some cold water into the pot, and pour it through the rice in the strainer, however many times you need to, to feel ok about throwing away some grains. Personally, I feel it a challenge to get every single grain (some times more than others.)
After the rice drains for a few minutes, use your funnel and quart jar set-up to transfer the rice into the jars. Remember to leave a space at the top so you can shake the jar and keep the rice loose, the grains separate.
All that needs to be done for a meal is to spoon it onto the dinner plate, microwave a serving for about 30 seconds, and it’s ready for beans or mixed vegetables or whatever you want to put on it. If you want to have a serving dish of rice, a double boiler for 15 minutes would work well for multiple servings. I have this thing about serving food hot, so for years I have served meals home-style, right off the stove, or let people help themselves from the cooking pots on the stove.