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Instant rice is rice that has been precooked. Some types are microwave ready. Some types are dehydrated so that they cook more rapidly. Regular rice requires 18-30 minutes to cook while instant rice needs 1-7 minutes. Because it has already been cooked, all that is necessary to prepare instant rice is to simply microwave it or re-hydrate it with hot water.
Instant rice is made using several methods. The most common method is similar to the home cooking process. The rice is blanched in hot water, steamed, and rinsed. It is then placed in large ovens for dehydration until the moisture content reaches approximately twelve percent or less.
The basic principle involves increasing moisture of the milled white rice by using steam or water to form cracks or holes in the kernels. The fast cooking properties come from the fact that, when recooked, water can penetrate into the cracked grain much more quickly.
The major advantage of instant rice is the rapid cooking time - some brands can be ready in as little as three minutes.
Currently, several companies, Asian as well as American, have developed brands which only require 90 seconds to cook, much like a cup of instant noodles.
- Instant rice is more expensive than regular rice.
- The "cracking" process can lead to a significant increase in broken grains in a package.
- Rice naturally has minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Instant rice has fewer of the calories, carbohydrates, and protein than regular rice. Companies make up for the loss of nutrients by adding their own nutrients such as the B-vitamins, as well as iron.
- Due to its processing, it also loses some of the flavor.
- The quicker cooking method can result in the rice being less firm in texture than regular rice.