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2023-07-10 09:18:11

Science - The Secrets of Cooking Rice — The Cause of Recipe Failure is Not What You Might Think

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Even the most experienced home cooks can mess up when trying to cook a pot of rice .

Now it's easy to place the blame on yourself .

But in the test kitchen , we figured out the real culprit , universal water to rice ratios .

They're printed in recipes and on bags of rice .

And depending on the type of rice , they call for different amounts of water per cup .

Typically , they call for a 1.5 to 1 ratio of water when cooking long and medium grain white rice , 1 to 1 for short grain and 2 to 1 for brown rice .

So looking solely at these ratios , you would naturally assume long grain rice absorbs more water than short grain rice .

And that brown rice absorbs more than white rice .

But in fact , that's not true .

We found this out by doing a simple test .

We gathered 17 different varieties of rice including white and brown , short grain , medium grain , long grain basmati and jasmine plus two varieties each of red and black rice .

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After rinsing the rice to remove excess surface starch , we placed one cup of each with one cup of water in a vacuum bag and we sealed them to ensure that no water could evaporate during cooking .

We then submerged the bags in a 200 degree water bath until the grains turned tender .

And that was about 25 minutes for white rice types and 65 minutes for brown , red and black .

After letting the cooked rice sit in the bags for 10 minutes , we emptied each into a separate bowl , fluffed the grains with a fork and tasted for doneness .

The result , every single type of rice was properly cooked using the 1 to 1 ratio of water to rice .

They were all tendered throughout and the water had been completely absorbed in each sample .

So why would we call for water in excess of one cup for each cup of rice ?

It turns out it's all about evaporation .

A cup of long grain brown rice doesn't require more water than a cup of long grain white rice , but it does need to cook for a significantly longer period of time .

In order for the water to work its way through that tough brand layer that extended cooking time results in a greater amount of water loss to evaporation .

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The catch evaporation will vary based on the size and shape of the cooking vessel .

How tightly the lid fits and the source and intensity of the heat .

In short , it's going to depend upon your specific cooking set up .

There is however , a light at the end of the tunnel first find a ratio that works for you .

Our white rice pelot calls for two and a quarter cups of water for 1.5 cups of rice cooked in a large sauce pan with a tight fitting lid .

You may find that you need slightly more or less water based on the pot and lid you use and how you maintain the heat , make a couple of batches and you'll find your ratio then simply make sure to use the same pot lid and heat each time you make rice .

But what if you want to make more than 1.5 cups of rice ?

Conventional wisdom says that we just simply double the ratio .

So that would give us 4.5 cups of water to three cups of rice .

That ratio however , leaves a good inch of mushy rice on the bottom of the pot .

Obviously , it's too much water .

Why ?

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Because given the same pot lid and heat level , the amount of evaporation doesn't double when we double the quantity of rice for cooking .

In fact , it actually stays the same .

So to scale the recipe to make twice as much rice start by subtracting out the cup amount of rice from the cup amount of water .

In our case , that's two and a quarter cups minus 1.5 cups leaving us with three quarters of a cup of excess water in the pot that is meant solely for evaporation .

So when we double the rice to three cups .

We need three cups of water for it to fully hydrate .

Plus the three quarters of a cup we know will evaporate given the same cooking vessel lid and heat .

Our double ratio therefore is three and three quarter cups of water to three cups of rice .

When we compared this recipe to one where we doubled the rice to three cups and the water to 4.5 cups .

The results were dramatically different .

Three and three quarter cups of water resulted in perfectly cooked rice from the top of the pot to the bottom .

Now you have the knowledge and tools to make a perfect pot of rice every time this is the science of good cooking .


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