Can you eat out of date long grain rice?

Rice is a staple food for nearly half of the world’s population. It’s inexpensive, easy to prepare, and has a long shelf life. White rice, when stored properly in a cool, dry place, can last for years past its printed expiration date. But what about long grain rice specifically? Can you safely eat this variety past its best by date?

What is long grain rice?

Long grain rice has a length-to-width ratio of 3 to 1 or higher. The grains are typically 4-5mm wide. Varieties like basmati and jasmine are considered long grain rice.

Some key features of long grain rice:

  • Grains remain separate and fluffy after cooking
  • Less sticky than medium or short grain varieties when cooked
  • Tends to have a firmer, chewier texture
  • More elongated shape compared to other types of rice

Long grain rice is popular in dishes like biryani and pilaf. The grains are less likely to clump together, resulting in a drier, lighter texture.

Does long grain rice expire?

Like any food product, long grain rice has a printed expiration date or ‘best by’ date. This date serves as a general guideline for how long the unopened package will remain at peak quality.

However, rice does not necessarily spoil or become unsafe to eat right after this date. Provided it is stored properly, unopened long grain rice can typically last 6-12 months past its printed date before starting to decline in flavor and texture.

Once opened, the shelf life is shortened to around 6 months. Exposure to air causes rice to dry out and lose moisture. Nevertheless, opened long grain rice can still often last a year or more past its expiration date if resealed and stored correctly.

How to store long grain rice

To maximize freshness and shelf life of long grain rice, follow these storage tips:

  • Keep rice in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Store in an airtight container or resealable bag.
  • Keep rice away from moisture, heat, and humidity.
  • Don’t mix new and old rice – use oldest first.
  • Refrigeration can extend shelf life if rice will not be used quickly.

Proper storage slows the chemical changes and hardening that can occur in rice over time. This preserves the flavor and texture.

How to tell if long grain rice is bad

Long grain rice that has truly gone bad from age or improper storage will show signs of spoilage. Look for:

  • Unexpected changes in color or texture – extreme dryness, gummy clumps
  • Significant fading, from white to yellow or beige
  • An ‘off’ odor, such as sour, musty, rotten
  • Taste discrepancies like bitterness, staleness, rancidity
  • Presence of insects or webbing on the rice

Rice that exhibits these characteristics should be discarded.

What are the risks of eating expired rice?

Eating long grain rice past its printed expiration doesn’t automatically equal food poisoning. How risky it is depends on a few factors:

  • Storage method – Improperly stored rice that sits in humidity can grow mold and bacteria more quickly. An airtight container in a cool, dry place minimizes risks.
  • Cooked vs. dry – Uncooked rice lasts longer. Once cooked, leftovers should be refrigerated and tossed after 3-4 days to avoid dangerous spore growth.
  • Presence of moisture – Even a bit of moisture makes rice more prone to microbial growth. Discard clumpy rice.
  • Length past expiration – Eating rice a few weeks or months past its date is generally low risk. More than 6 months can be more questionable.

While the survival of small amounts of bacteria in rice is possible even with proper storage, these amounts are unlikely to cause illness.

How long is cooked long grain rice good for?

Cooked long grain rice should be treated just like any cooked grain or starchy side dish. For food safety:

  • Refrigerate cooked rice within 1-2 hours of cooking.
  • Only reheat cooked rice once.
  • Use leftovers within 3-4 days.
  • Discard if rice develops an off smell or looks re-humidified.
  • Don’t leave rice containers at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

These practices limit the ability of Bacillus cereus spores to multiply. Reheating only once minimizes production of cereus toxin that can cause vomiting.

Can you freeze expired long grain rice?

Freezing is a good option for extending the shelf life of long grain rice. To freeze:

  • Portion rice into airtight freezer bags or containers.
  • Press out as much air as possible.
  • Freeze for up to 1 year.

Frozen rice maintains both nutrition and quality much longer. Even if the printed date has passed, frozen rice will still be safe to thaw and eat.

However, for best flavor and texture, it’s still ideal to freeze rice by its expiration date. Frozen rice that is extremely old may turn dry and crumbly when thawed.

How to freshen up old long grain rice

To perk up long grain rice that has dried out or lost flavor from age, you can freshen it up before cooking. Try one of these quick remedies:

  • Place rice in a bowl and dampen with just a bit of water. Let sit for 1-2 minutes to rehydrate before cooking as usual.
  • Mix in a tiny amount of oil (like coconut oil) to add moisture back.
  • For cooked rice, stir in a little broth or condensation from a steamy covered pot to restore moisture.

These easy methods hydrate and revitalize older rice without impacting cooking performance.

Should you eat expired rice if stored improperly?

Rice that has been kept past its expiration date in less than ideal conditions should be discarded. Signs it may not be safe to eat include:

  • Kept in warm, humid environments.
  • Stored in permeable packaging or containers.
  • Shows signs of moisture or clumping.

The risks involved with eating improperly stored rice that has also surpassed its expiration date are not worth the potential consequences. It’s better to be safe and discard such rice.

Can you eat sprouted long grain rice?

If your expired long grain rice has begun to sprout, it’s best to throw it out. Rice should not be eaten once sprouting occurs.

During sprouting, the rice seeds begin to grow by producing a root embryo. Enzymes are produced that change the nutritional composition and digestibility of the rice.

While not inherently hazardous, sprouted rice has an altered flavor and texture that makes it unpalatable. The sprouts may also contain higher amounts of antinutrients like phytic acid.

Will reheating expired rice kill bacteria?

Reheating expired rice that was otherwise properly stored can further reduce any low levels of bacteria present:

  • Bring rice to a boil to kill most bacteria.
  • Cook at 165°F or hotter for increased safety.
  • Only reheat once as spores can survive and generate toxins.

However, reheating cannot reverse true spoilage. Rice with foul odors or signs of serious deterioration should still be discarded.

Can you eat moldy long grain rice?

No, you should never eat moldy rice even if it’s long grain variety. Visible mold is a clear sign that potentially hazardous mycotoxins have formed.

Dangerous molds that grow on rice include:

  • Aspergillus – produces cancer-causing aflatoxins
  • Penicillium – causes allergic reactions
  • Fusarium – produces fumonisin mycotoxins

Consuming moldy rice can lead to mycotoxin poisoning with symptoms like vomiting, numbness, and convulsions in severe cases. Always discard moldy rice.

Can you eat weevils in rice?

It’s not recommended to knowingly eat rice containing weevils, even if the rice is otherwise okay. Weevils are a type of rice-feeding insect pest.

Dangers of consuming weevils include:

  • May carry pathogens like bacteria, viruses, or parasites
  • Can produce allergic reactions in sensitive individuals
  • Crunchy texture is unappetizing

So while a few weevils here and there are not inherently hazardous, it is better to remove them during preparation/cooking or discard rice where large infestations occur.

Can you eat cooked then frozen expired rice?

Previously cooked rice that was frozen before its expiration date is generally safe to eat if it shows no signs of spoilage like off-colors or odors.

The freezing process stops any remaining moisture in the rice from enabling bacterial growth during storage.

As long as cooked rice was promptly frozen after cooking and properly reheated just once when thawed, the prior expiration matters less.

However, it’s still best to cook fresh not expired rice when possible for ideal flavor and texture.

What are signs of unsafe expired rice?

Here are key signs long grain rice has truly spoiled and may cause foodborne illness if eaten:

  • Strange colors like green, pink, or black
  • Strong unpleasant odors – sour, musty, moldy, rotten
  • Visible mold – fuzzy/slimy growth anywhere
  • Weevils or insects inside package
  • Severe dryness with cracking

Rice exhibiting one or more of these signs should be discarded regardless of its printed expiration date or how long it has been in storage. Do not risk eating spoiled rice.


Long grain rice can typically last 6-12 months past its printed expiration date if properly stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot. Freezing can further prolong shelf life. While not completely risk-free, eating expired but not spoiled rice is unlikely to cause food poisoning in most cases. However, rice that has been kept in poor conditions or shows clear signs of spoilage should always be discarded no matter what the date on the package says. With proper storage methods and checking for visual and aromatic spoilage, long grain rice can often be safely consumed even after its best by date as long as care is taken. But when in doubt, it’s better to err on the side of caution and not eat rice of questionable age or condition.

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