Across the world, particularly in Asian countries, rice is a staple food. It is cheap, easy, nutritious, tasty, and it keeps us full for a long time. Over time, we have seen a massive increase in the idea and movement to focus on eating raw foods. Many foods, such as vegetables and fruits, are at their most nutritious point before they are exposed to heat.

Cooking and frying certain foods, even the oils we use for frying, lose a lot of their minerals and nutrients as soon as they are chopped up and cooked at high temperatures. Our ancestors survived on raw diets, so many people believe it should be no different for us.

However, we know certain foods will make us extremely sick if they are not cooked properly – particularly meat. However, is this also the case for grains? Can raw rice or uncooked cooked rice really give us food poisoning and make us as ill as we think?

Today I am going to look at the impacts caused by eating undercooked or overcooked rice, find out if there is a way we can fix undercooked rice, and look at how we can ensure that when using such a staple food, we know how to cook rice so that it is safe to eat.

Reasons your rice may not be cooked properly

Rice can remain undercooked for a number of reasons. The first, and probably most obvious reason is that it simply is not left to cook for long enough. It really depends on the method you use to cook rice, but a lot of people boil it and then drain the remaining water and with this method people can often strain their rice before it has finished cooking.

Another common mistake is that people do not add enough water. Some people are hesitant on adding too much water because they do not want their rice to become mushy, however this can backfire if it ends up leaving your rice undercooked. Not adding enough water means that the rice has finished absorbing the water before it has had time to cook.

Similarly, people let the steam escape too early and this means that the heat and moisture used to cook the rice can end up meaning that the rice does not cook properly.

Finally, you need to make sure your rice is cooking at the right temperature. It is a common error to cook your rice in boiling water for the full time, as this means that the water evaporates a lot quicker than the rice cooks. Similar to releasing the steam too early, this means that there is not enough water left to actually finish cooking the rice as the rice has no moisture to absorb.

How can I tell if my rice is undercooked?

Raw or undercooked rice has a much different texture to rice that is safe to eat. The rice that we love to eat is usually soft, light, and fluffy. Undercooked rice is typically still very grainy and hard, and you will find it a lot more difficult to chew than cooked rice.

The appearance is also a lot grainier and doesn’t have that absorbed, moist look that rice normally has. This is the case with all types of rice, however it is harder to spot in grains like brown rice because these usually appear more individual and grainer than white rice.

Uncooked rice does not actually differ much in taste, and so when cooking rice and assessing if it is done, your best bet is to check the texture first. Cooked rice tends to stick together a bit more than rice that may not be finished cooking, and so this is another aspect you can check without having to actually put any in your mouth.

What happens if you eat undercooked rice?

Lots of people believe that eating raw rice or uncooked rice can make you extremely ill with a form of food poisoning. On the other hand, a lot of people consider rice to be similar to pasta in that it can be cooked al dente – cooked to be firm to the bite – without needing to be rinsed first either. This is not the case for rice as rice can contain the bacteria Bacillus Cereus.

This bacteria is found in other foods, such as milk-based products and fish. This bacteria can be used as an animal feed additive and can be very beneficial for the animals. Despite this, the bacteria is extremely harmful to humans.

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Gastrointestinal issues are caused when uncooked rice contains compounds, such as lectin, that lead to digestive problems. Lectin is most commonly found in grains and is a natural insecticide that causes symptoms similar to those caused by food poisoning – sickness, cramps, vomiting or diarrhea.

In spite of its side effects, Bacillus Cereus is present in more than half of commercial rice brands, however it is of no concern if the rice is properly cooked. However, if it is present in raw or uncooked rice, the cooler temperatures not only allow the bacteria to exist but can actually encourage it to grow.

What to do if you consume undercooked rice?

In most instances, consuming uncooked rice in a small amount will be absolutely fine. It is important to observe your body’s reaction in case you do begin to fall ill. Keep an eye out for any of the manifesting symptoms of food poisoning:

  • Stomach cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrheoa

If you do begin to notice any of these symptoms manifesting, make sure you avoid eating food for a few hours and remain hydrated. Usually food poisoning will go away on its own, but if you do start to show drastic signs of dehydration then you should contact a doctor.

If you notice that the texture of your first bite seems slightly harder, then make sure you do not eat any more. This will usually help you to avoid reaching any of the issues stated above.

How to fix uncooked rice?

If you do try a bite and realise your rice is undercooked, have no fear. There are plenty of ways to make sure your rice does not go to waste. Begin by poking some holes in the centre of your rice and then add some extra water. Cover the container with a couple of paper towels and place it into the microwave for about 2 minutes.

Alternatively, you can heat it for five minutes to let the extra water evaporate. The rice will begin to cook further and will become safe to eat.

Can I reheat rice?

Much like above, it is possible to reheat rice once the rice has completely cooled, but it does need to be fully cooked beforehand. The original bacteria may still be present, and once cooled it is extremely likely that it will have spread to levels that are dangerous to consume.

To avoid becoming ill from the bacteria, ensure that you are heating your rice at an extremely high temperature and once taken out of the microwave it is piping hot throughout.

This is the same if you reheat the rice on the hob. Make sure you add some extra water and stir the rice as you reheat it. Once the rice is too hot to eat straight away, it should be safe to eat. You should never reheat rice more than once.

Does the same apply for overcooked rice?

On the contrary, if you add too much water then it may overcook and you may end up with mushy rice. Whilst this is not pleasant, it is not dangerous. The temperatures and the time used to cook the rice is both enough to kill the bacteria, meaning you will not get sick from this.

If you do notice that you have added too much water, you can fix overcooked rice by draining some of the water and continue to let the rice cook until the texture is what you desire. Alternatively you can remove the rice from the heat and drain whatever water is leftover, the same way you would with pasta.

Having too much liquid will depend on how much rice you are making, and this will impact the cooking time. To avoid these worries, you can also make steamed rice and this can be easier as you can add more water without it having an immediate impact on the rice. This way you can ensure your rice is fully cooked without going overboard.

If your rice does come out quite mushy, you can add other herbs and spices which will help you absorb some of the excess liquid.

Final thoughts

It is really important to make sure your rice is cooked thoroughly to ensure you do not get ill. you should never eat raw rice and should avoid eating undercooked rice. The bacteria on rice can multiple if rice is not cooked at temperatures high enough to kill it. This is why it is always a good idea to rinse your rice first under cold water, but why it is also important to make sure your rice is piping hot when boiled, but also when reheated.

There are a number of ways to avoid undercooking your rice, but also many methods to fix it if you do make that mistake.

If you do end up eating uncooked rice, try not to panic. In small doses you are more than likely to be fine, but if you do fall ill then just focus on staying hydrated.

The key point to take away from this is to try and get the proper ratio of water to rice and make sure it is at a temperature high enough to cook it, but not too high to evaporate the water. When it comes to rice, it is better to be safe than sorry, even if that means having rice slightly more mushy than planned, and just remember, you will nail it eventually and learn to enjoy rice, it may just take a few attempts!

To find out the best secret tips on how to get the best tasting rice, just click here!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

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Is it OK to eat slightly undercooked rice?

In small doses, you should be completely fine if you accidentally eat undercooked rice. However, once you have realised it is undercooked you should hold off on eating anymore.

What do I do if my rice is slightly undercooked?

If your rice is slightly undercooked you can add some extra water and cover it up before reheating in the microwave. Alternatively you can pop it back in the pan, add some water and cook over the hob until the excess water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked.

Can undercooked rice give you food poisoning?

Undercooked rice can give you food poisoning and so it is important to make sure your rice is safe to eat.

How do you fix undercooked rice in the microwave?

You can fix uncooked rice by poking some holes in the middle, adding some water and placing paper towels over the top. You can then pop it in the microwave for a couple of minutes and the rice should absorb the water and finish cooking – making it ready to eat.