Everything You Need to Know About Storing and Checking Brown Rice

Kashrus Kurrents, Winter 2023

Brown rice is a whole natural grain that goes through minimal processing. It is therefore more susceptible to infestation concerns than grains that are more processed.

Whole unprocessed grains can have microscopic eggs attached to them. If left in improper conditions, like warm or humid environments, they can hatch and may pose a seemingly ‘sudden’ infestation, even in well-sealed containers. Insects like beetles and weevils found in packages of brown rice are known as ‘pantry pests’ and are the result of improper storage. This can happen at any point in the supply chain, from the initial processing or packing plant to the kitchen pantry.

To minimize the risk of infestation, STAR-K recommends brown rice be checked prior to use using the method outlined below. Anyone who wishes to stock up on large quantities of brown rice (or any grains) should first check the rice, then store it for at least 96 hours at below freezing temperatures. This will effectively kill any eggs present so they can no longer hatch. Afterwards, provided the rice remains properly sealed, it can be stored for a long time.

STAR-K recommends the following procedure to check brown rice prior to use:

  1. Place the brown rice (no more than 16oz at a time) in a fine steel mesh strainer. Ideally, mesh size should be #12 mesh or larger.
  2. Shake the brown rice over a lightbox or white paper for 25-30 seconds.
  3. Examine the surface of the lightbox or paper for any insect presence. If no insects are found, the rice may be used. If any insects are found, the rice should be discarded.

The most common insects found in brown rice are beetles and weevils. For links to a video demonstration of how to do a proper rice check, photos of rice weevils, and strainer purchase recommendation, go to checkforinsects.com, and click on Rice, Brown.