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How to Wash Rice in 4 Easy Steps (Because Yes, You Have To)

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Oh, rice, how we love thee. You nourished us during our broke college days, asking for nothing more than a pat of butter and a pinch of salt in return. Now, you’re a regular staple on the dinner table—be it as a humble but harmonious accompaniment to every protein we serve, or as the main event when we’re in the mood for paella or arroz con pollo. Yep, it’s pretty easy to wax poetic about rice…when we don’t screw up our vision by turning it into a dense and sticky mess, that is. Interestingly enough, neglecting to wash rice (not overcooking it) can be the culprit in these sad instances. We spoke to Chef Anja Wolf, CEO and creative director at I Love Cookware!, to get the full scoop on how to wash rice the right way—and why it matters.

Does rice need to be washed?

You’ve probably already surmised the answer to this question…but, yes, rice does indeed need to be washed. Per the expert, “it's important to wash rice because the starch on the exterior of the grain may be unclean due to rodents and other pests in the factory…[and] rinsing rice may also help remove some heavy metals that are latching on to the starch.” Roger that. Still, there’s no need to freak out if you’ve been sending your rice straight into the pot and then onto your plate. (After all, it hasn’t killed you yet, right?)

There is, however, an even more compelling reason for washing rice, and it has to do with the texture of the finished product. Chef Wolf tells us that washing rice removes the excess starches from the grain that can cause gumminess (i.e., the thing that can turn a pilaf into a pile of…) Bottom line: If you prefer rice that’s perfectly fluffed with distinct grains, as opposed to clumpy mush, your best bet is to give it a nice, cold bath before you send it to the stove.

How to wash rice

Now you know why you should wash your rice, but it turns out the how is important, too. Hint: Tossing it directly into a strainer for a quick rinse won’t accomplish much. Gather the following supplies and read on for the proper and oh-so easy way to wash rice—you know, so you don’t end up serving a grimy, gummy side dish.

What You’ll Need

1. Pour rice into a large bowl. This isn’t a free-pour, friends—be sure to measure out the desired amount for your recipe first.

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2. Fill the bowl with water. Add fresh, cold water to the bowl until there is at least one inch of water above the rice. Next, use your hands (or a whisk, if you prefer) to swirl the rice around and break up any clumps. Keep stirring the grains around in the water for roughly one minute, or until the water becomes cloudy.

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3. Pour out the water. Hold the rice down with one hand and carefully pour out the (now murky) water. You can also use a fine mesh strainer to do this.

4. Fill the bowl back up with clean water. Now, repeat steps three and four until the water is clear. Then, pat yourself on the back—your rice is clean and ready to cook.

Plus, 5 Delicious Rice Recipes to Make Right Now: