Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
Rice often comes in floppy bags that clutter your pantry, and you can get steep discounts for buying it in bulk. Storing rice properly can extend its shelf life, but some storage solutions can introduce moisture, chemicals, or even invite infestation to your long-term food stores. What is the best way to keep your pantry shelves neat while protecting the rice's longevity? We've researched whether you can store rice in plastic food containers, and you'll be interested in the result.
Plastic food containers provide a convenient and cost-effective solution for storing rice. They keep rice dry, protect it from infestation, and extend shelf life. Plastic storage containers are cheap and attractive, but glass and metal containers are good alternatives as well.
It’s important to choose the right food storage containers for your home. Some things to consider are the humidity in your area, the potential exposure to mice and other rodents, and your level of concern about chemical exposure. In the rest of this post, we will explore these concerns.
Plastic food containers for Rice Storage
Choose a container that will work for your household. If you only need to store a few pounds of rice at a time, a 40-ounce container will be the right size. If you usually buy in bulk, you will need a larger container. It’s helpful to have a clear container to see how much rice you have left.
If you’re buying a container for storing rice, you might also want to think about coordinating containers for storing other staples such as sugar, flour, and pasta. Make sure that the container fits in the space where you will store them and has a tight-fitting lid.
Are plastic food storage containers safe?
Plastics can contain chemicals known to be dangerous, particularly for infants, children, and unborn babies. Food storage containers should always be free of bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates. These chemicals can leach into food and disrupt hormone function, particularly in young children and unborn babies. This process, known as endocrine disruption, is well established, but it’s less clear if it is something you need to worry about for day-to-day dried food storage. Scientists have not yet reached a consensus on how much exposure is likely to cause harm in the real world.
Many products are now labeled as BPA-free. However, the health effects of other chemicals in plastics are still unknown. If exposure to environmental toxins is a concern, you may want to consider glass or metal storage containers. These are a little more expensive than plastic containers but will last longer and look more attractive on your shelves.
Does rice need to be stored in an airtight container?
Rice can be stored in any type of container for a short time, but an airtight container is your best bet for long-term storage in the typical kitchen pantry. Rice needs to stay dry, and airtight containers will protect against changes in humidity.
Can mice get in plastic containers?
Rice attracts mice, and mice can chew through almost anything! For most households, though, a plastic food container is enough to keep mice away. If you are storing rice in a basement, garage, or area where you know there are rodents, you need to be more careful about the containers you use. Look for hard plastic containers, and make sure they are stored raised above the ground on shelves or pallets.
Metal food containers or glass containers are other potential solutions that are more rodent-proof than plastic.
How long will stored rice last?
Rice should come labeled with a best by date. This date might extend quite far into the future if the rice was not in storage for a long time before it reached the grocery store shelves. Rice can also be safe to eat for months to years past its best by date. Storing rice properly in an airtight container can extend its shelf life. However, you should check rice before using it to make sure it has not gone bad.
What is the best rice for long-term storage?
If you want rice for long-term storage, for example, being prepared for an emergency, white rice or minute rice is your best bet. White rice and minute rice will last much longer than brown or wild rice. Stored properly, white rice can last for four to five years past its best by date. Brown rice does not last as long and should be eaten within six to eight months of its best by date.
How can you tell if dry rice is bad?
Nobody wants to eat spoiled food, but it can be hard to tell if the rice has gone bad. With white rice, watch out for any small reddish-brown insects. These may be rice weevils—throw away the whole container if you see any! You should throw away brown rice if it starts to look oily or to smell oily or rancid.
Check out these handy tips to keep dry rice fresh, "Does Rice Go Bad In The Pantry? [Inc. Tips for Keeping Rice Extra Fresh]."
What can you do with expired rice?
Dry rice can be eaten for months to years past its expiration date, as long as it isn’t infested or hasn’t gone bad, as we've described above. If you don’t feel comfortable with this, there are many other uses for dried rice! It can be used to make rainbow rice for sensory play, for stuffing bean bags, pillows, or stuffed animals, or to weigh down paper bag lanterns.
Check out this great DIY project to make paper lanterns using dry white rice:
Should you freeze rice to kill bugs (and for how long?)
If you are worried about insect infestation, you can freeze dried rice for three to seven days before storing it. Weevil eggs cannot survive freezing temperatures. You can freeze rice in batches if your freezer is not big enough to fit all the rice at once. Freezing is usually unnecessary, but it is a good idea if you intend to store rice for more than a year or buy it from the bulk bins of a health-food or grocery store.
Now you know, you can equip your pantry with plastic storage containers for long-term storage of rice. You can alternatively use metal or glass --any of these materials will keep rice sufficiently fresh for months to years beyond the best by date on the original packaging. Look for any signs of infestation or unpleasant odors to determine if dry rice has gone bad --discard spoiled dry rice immediately or use for household crafts.
When you're ready to cook dry rice, we've got you covered, just read "What’s the Best Pot for Cooking Rice? [Size and Type]."