Rice is an essential food in many countries around the world. It is the third most consumable crop grown globally after corn and wheat. There are over 50 million tons of rice grain produced annually.
But how much does rice expand when it is cooked, and why does it expand? These are some of the common questions asked by home cooks. Let us answer them together.
Why Does Uncooked Rice Expand?
Uncooked rice expands when it is heated, and this expansion can be measured by the change in volume of a sample of rice that has been heated to different temperatures. (Similar to other grains – rice as a grain will grow in size)
The amount of expansion depends on how hot the rice is heated and also on the variety of rice. For example, if we heat white rice, which contains more starch than brown rice, the volume will expand much more than if we heat brown rice. This is because the starch granules in white rice are smaller than those in brown rice.
In general, the higher the temperature, the greater the volume increase. When rice is cooked, its starch granules swell up and expand. This makes them easier for us to digest cooked rice.
How Much Does Uncooked Rice Expand
Rice expands about twice its original size when cooked. But just how much does it expand? The amount of rice that expands will depend on the variety of rice you are cooking and the method you use to cook it. White rice will expand to 3–4 times its original size when cooked, while brown rice will only double.
How Much Does White Rice Expand
White rice expands to 3 times its original volume when cooked. It has a higher starch content than brown rice. Because white rice has more starch in it, it expands more easily.
It is worth noting that white rice which has gone bad, will have also expanded slightly.
How Much Does Brown Rice Expand
Brown rice expands to 2 times its original volume when it’s cooked. Its lower starch content allows it to expand less than white rice.
How Much Does Jasmine Rice Expand
In general, jasmine rice expands to 3 times the size of uncooked rice; however, there is no set rule as to what percentage of expansion jasmine rice will have.
How Much Does Basmati Rice Expand
Basmati rice expands to 4 times its original volume when prepared properly. It has a high amylose content, which means it absorbs liquid very quickly. So it expands rapidly once it starts absorbing the water.
How Much Does Wild Rice Expand
Wild rice expands to three to four times its original volume when properly cooked. Like basmati rice, wild rice also has a high amylase content. This means it can expand at an even faster rate.
Factors Affecting How Much Rice Expands
There are two main factors that affect how much rice expands:
- The variety of rice you are using
- The way you cook your rice
Cooking Procedures That Affect How Much Rice Expand
- Cooking time affects how much rice expands. If you cook your rice longer, it will expand more.
- If you boil your rice instead of steaming or microwaving it, it will expand more because boiling softens the starch inside the grain. Even when you warm rice on the stove it will expand a little.
- If you reheat your rice, it will expand more than if you eat it cold.
- Adding salt to your rice before cooking will expand more since salt draws moisture out of the rice.
- It will expand even more if you don’t drain excess water after cooking.
- If you let your rice sit too long after cooking, it will start to dry out and shrink back to its original size.
- If you store your rice in airtight containers, it will absorb extra moisture from the surrounding air.