Question: Is it possible to pre-cook a big batch of rice and maybe freeze or just refrigerate? One hour preparation is quite a bit on an average day.
Sassy Sez: Yes, yes, a thousand times YES! In fact, it's really the best way to pull off everyday vegan cooking.
You can absolutely pre-cook your brown rice and refrigerate it for later use.
When Jeff and I make rice, we always soak 2 cups of rice, which makes about 4 cups of cooked rice. Cool it completely, then pop it in the fridge in a container with a lid. It is ready to go when you are.
To reheat rice (or other whole grains), heat a medium pot over medium-low heat, add about 1/4 cup of water or veggie broth (or enough to cover the bottom of your pot), spoon rice into pot, place a lid on the top, and heat until warmed throughout.
You'll want to stir occasionally, and check to see if you need to add more water/veggie broth so the rice doesn't stick. Even if your rice DOES stick (as sometimes happens when you lose track of time!), adding a bit of liquid almost always loosens things up so you can "unstick" the rice from the bottom.
And yes, you can also freeze rice (and other whole grains) for later use. But rather than have a big ol' bunch of rice all frozen together, which would have to be defrosted together as well, portion the rice in 1 or 2 cup servings, depending on how much you eat at each meal and how often you eat it. Then, you can simply remove the rice portions as needed, defrost in the fridge for 24 hours, and then reheat as explained above.
By the way, I breezed over a topic that is very important for you to know: How to properly cool rice. Firstly, no food should ever be put into the refrigerator unless mostly cool because it could bring the temperature of the fridge down putting other foods in jeopardy.
Rice has a tendency to hold heat. So if you have a bowl full of rice, the outside will always get cool, and it will seem as though it is ready to be refrigerated. But if you check the middle of the rice, it will likely still be warm (if not hot!).
So the best way to cool rice is to place your rice into a very large bowl, then using a spoon push the rice out to the sides so all the sides and the bottom are covered with an even amount of rice. If you have a fan to blow onto the rice that is helpful, but not necessary. (An overhead fan works nicely as well.)
The idea is to simply cool the rice as quickly as possible so bacteria does not get a chance to grow. When completely cool, place in a container in the fridge.
When freezing my rice (or other foods!), I like to let it sit overnight (covered) in the fridge so it is chilled before packaging for the freezer. But this is not a vital step, just something I prefer.
It's a nice idea (and helps you to get meals on the table quickly!) to take a day or two out each month to make a whole bunch of grains (and beans!) to stick in the freezer for later use.
Hope this helps. :)
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