Undercooked Rice, Is It Safe, How Do I Tell If It’s Cooked?

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Rice is as we all know a staple food of various cuisines around the world. Asian countries, in particular, such as Japan are well known for their love of rice. However, the popularity of rice as a staple food in various countries continues to grow.

Whilst rice is very popular worldwide, many people are accustomed to using instant rice rather than cooked rice from scratch. As such, when you come to try making your own rice, you may struggle to know when you have undercooked or overcooked rice, or if your steamed rice is just right. If in this position, you may find yourself wondering if your rice is undercooked, and is it safe to eat?

How Cooked Is My Rice?

When you cook rice it is important to be able to tell whether the rice grains have fully cooked or not. Once you know what you’re looking for, it’s simple to figure out. As you’ll be able to tell from sight alone. However, occasionally tasting it may still be advisable in order to ensure you have perfect rice. 

Raw Rice

Raw rice will be opaque white, brown or red/black in colour and have a hard, crunchy texture. This may seem obvious but you shouldn’t eat raw rice. Not only will it not be pleasant to eat but it may also make you ill.   

Undercooked Rice

When rice is cooking it will start to become slightly translucent and look softer at the edges. However, serving it now would be far too soon as the rice will not be fully cooked. This is because whilst the edges may have softened, the middle will be raw if still opaque. 

Cooked Rice

Perfectly cooked rice will be soft and fluffy throughout with the individual grains being separate instead of clumped. Depending on the grain type, the rice may be slightly sticky. However, the grains will still be distinct and solid yet fluffy.

Undercooked Rice, Is It Safe, How Do I Tell If It's Cooked?

Overcooked Rice

Overcooked rice will typically have too much liquid and not be too pleasant at all. This will be gooey or mushy rice which will have clumped together instead of having distinct, individual grains.

Why Is My Rice Undercooked?

Many different factors can contribute to your rice being undercooked. Typically though undercooked rice is due to one of the following:

  • Not adding enough water: If not enough water is added to the rice, then it will have all evaporated before the rice is finished cooking.
  • Opening the lid too early: When cooking rice it is important that you allow it to steam by trapping the water vapour in the pan once it begins to evaporate. Doing so will finish off the cooking process and make your rice nice and fluffy. As such, disturbing this process by removing the lid early will result in undercooked rice.
  • Cooking on temperatures that are too high: This leads to the same issue that occurs when not enough water is added. If you heat the water too much it will have fully evaporated before the rice has finished cooking.  

Is It Safe To Eat Undercooked Rice?

It is not particularly safe to eat undercooked rice, however, eating raw rice is much worse for you. The reason for this is that uncooked rice will potentially harbour harmful bacteria and/or give you food poisoning.

Undercooked Rice, Is It Safe, How Do I Tell If It's Cooked?

Unlike pasta, you should always wash rice before cooking as it may be harbouring bacteria called Bacillus Cereus. This bacteria can be found in other food such as milk and fish. However, rice is often very high in it. Whilst this bacteria is safe for animals, it can be toxic for humans in higher enough concentrations, such as on rice. 

Potential Health Issues From Eating Raw Or Undercooked Rice

The adverse health effects of raw and undercooked rice, along with Bacillus Cereus on the human body can include the following:

  • Food Poisoning: Whilst not an issue when the rice is properly cooked, the Bacillus Cereus present in raw and undercooked rice can cause food poisoning. Some of the symptoms of which include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps.
  • Gastrointestinal Issues: These result from the presence of compounds like lectin on the rice. This natural insecticide is commonly found on grasses and grains and causes similar issues to food poisoning. However, it may also cause intestinal damage. This is due to the lectin being indigestible and interfering with the body’s absorption of nutrients from food.
  • Fertility Issues: Undercooked rice also contains small amounts of arsenic. This can impact fertility in women and potentially lead to cancer. This is because arsenic increases estrogen levels whilst reducing progesterone.
  • Digestive Issues: The presence of the cellulose layer which is removed during cooking can impact digestion. This is because the body is unable to digest cellulose-rich foods.
  • Other Issues: Potentially repeated eating raw and overcooked rice may lead to an iron deficiency, tooth damage, hair loss and stomach problems.

How To Fix Undercooked Rice

Fortunately, if you notice that your rice is somewhat undercooked, it can be salvaged. In fact, the steps to do so are surprisingly simple. To fix undercooked rice adhere to the following steps:

  1. Poke a few holes in the rice. Chopsticks are ideal for this.
  2. Add some more water to the rice. Slightly above the rice line should do.
  3. Cover the container and cook for another five minutes.

Alternatively, instead of using the stove to fix the rice, you can do so in the microwave. When doing so after step two, simply transfer the rice to a microwavable bowl. Then cover it with paper towels and cook for two minutes.

If the rice still looks undercooked, you may need to repeat the process.

Undercooked Rice, Is It Safe, How Do I Tell If It's Cooked?

Cooking Rice Properly

Whilst, fixing undercooked rice is doable, it is of course better to try to get it right in the first place. If your rice has already needed fixing, then knowing what to do in the future is also incredibly useful.

If you plan to cook rice quite often, it may be a good idea to invest in a rice cooker. These machines will take all the guesswork out of making rice and give you less to worry about when cooking your favourite dishes.

A complication with following rice cooking guides online is that different ones will suggest different ratios of water to rice. However, whilst you can try following one of these methods, there is a simpler way to ratio your water and rice accurately. 

This is the finger method. A traditional way of measuring out water that has been used for centuries all across Asia.

  1. When using this method, take your washed, uncooked rice and put it in your pan or rice cooker.
  2. Ensure the surface is level. Then touch the top of the rice with the tip of your outstretched index finger.
  3. Finally, fill with cold water until the water level is at your first knuckle joint.

That’s it, if using a rice cooker simply turn it on with the correct setting for the rice. If using a hob, however, simply boil at high temperature. Following which stir, cover and steam on your stove’s low heat setting until ready. 

It’s important to note that different rice grains will steam at different rates. Typically short-grain white rice takes around fifteen minutes, long-grain about half an hour and brown around forty-five. 

For the best results though, once the rice has been on the hob for long enough, turn off the heat; then leave it to steam for another five to ten minutes. After which, gently fluff it with a wooden spoon or spatula. 

Eating Reheated Rice

Many people are wary to reheat leftover rice. However, you may have heard of people who do reheat rice for certain recipes. Whilst the health concerns from doing so are valid; if stored properly leftover rice is perfectly safe. In fact, many people, such as online personality Uncle Roger see leftover rice as a crucial part of making dishes like egg fried rice.

Undercooked Rice, Is It Safe, How Do I Tell If It's Cooked?

To safely store leftover rice for future use, first spread it out so it will chill quickly. Following which you should put the rice in a container, cover and refrigerate. If storing rice in this way, it is recommended that you use it within a couple of days. This is because it will go bad if left too long.

Final Thoughts 

Eating undercooked or raw rice isn’t particularly great for your body. Doing so can cause a myriad of both short and long term health issues if done regularly.

However, if you undercook your rice, this is easily remedied. All that’s needed is a bit extra bit of water and a few minutes on the hob or in the microwave. Additionally, old and improperly stored leftover rice can be bad for you. Despite this, leftover rice is perfectly healthy to use if you take care to store it properly and eat within a couple of days.

FAQs

Is It Ok To Eat Slightly Undercooked Rice?

It is not safe to eat undercooked or raw rice. The reason for this is that uncooked rice will potentially harbour harmful bacteria called Bacillus Cereus and/or give you food poisoning.

What Do I Do If My Rice Is Slightly Undercooked?

You can fix overcooked rice by following some simple steps:
1. Poke a few holes in the rice. Chopsticks are ideal for this.
2. Add some more water to the rice. Slightly above the rice line should do.
3. Cover the container and cook for another five minutes.
Alternatively, instead of using the stove to fix the rice, you can do so in the microwave. When doing so after step two, simply transfer the rice to a microwavable bowl, cover it with paper towels and cook for two minutes.

Can Undercooked Rice Give You Food Poisoning?

Whilst not an issue when the rice is properly cooked, the Bacillus Cereus bacteria present in raw and undercooked rice can cause food poisoning. Some of the symptoms of which include diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps.

How Do You Fix Undercooked Rice In The Microwave?

To fix undercooked rice in the microwave, follow these steps:
1. Poke a few holes in the rice. Chopsticks are ideal for this.
2. Add some more water to the rice. Slightly above the rice line should do.
3. Transfer to a microwavable bowl, cover with paper towels and cook for two minutes.