To freeze rice or not to freeze rice, that is the question. This month I am repackaging 200 lbs of white rice into Oxygen-free food-grade buckets. Should I freeze the rice to kill weevil eggs, or is there a better way? There is definitely a better method of controlling bugs than freezing.
Preppers should not freeze rice before long-term storage. Freezing kills bugs, eggs, and pupae, but this method is not as reliable as storage in an oxygen-free container. Freezing bulk rice takes a tremendous amount of time and increases moisture content, leading to mold growth, chemical oxidation, and spoilage.
Using Mylar bags and/or food-grade pales with Oxygen absorbers is a quicker, more effective method of processing rice for long-term storage than freezing.
Freezing Rice Is Not An Effective Way to Kill Bug Eggs
Weevils are the main bug that invades rice and other whole grains. Most rice has bug eggs when you get it. You have to process rice to make sure eggs don’t hatch and infest your food.
The problem with freezing is some types of weevil eggs can survive the deep freezing temperatures. They may not be killed even if frozen. You won’t necessarily know what kind of weevil you have so don’t waste a lot of time and freezer space to “maybe” kill bug eggs.
Weevils eat just about any dry whole food in your pantry including, whole grain, nuts, beans, corn, and cereal, and they will travel from other grains to rice.
Freezing Rice Increases Moisture Content
Moisture is debatably the number one enemy of long-term food storage.
When you store rice in your freezer, you combine your freezer’s cold temperatures with air, which creates moisture or condensation when rice is removed from the freezer. There is no way around it. Avoid freezing uncooked rice. It may cause it to spoil quicker.
Warning: Dried foods like rice, beans, and other whole grains must be stored with 10% or less moisture content in an oxygen-free container to avoid botulism and other foodborne bacteria.
Oxygen-Free Containers Are The Best Way To Kill Bugs
Storing rice in Oxygen-free containers kills bugs, bug eggs, and pupae within 2 weeks, and it’s quicker than freezing. Storing rice like this also gives the rice a 30 plus year shelf-life. What prepper doesn’t love that?
Not to mention storing rice this way also removes two other ways food spoils by eliminating light and oxygen. If the rice has less than 10% moisture when sealed, you’ve taken care of the moisture issue. Now all you have to worry about is heat, store your rice in a cool, dry location, and you’re looking at rice that will store for decades.
Why freeze your rice when you can drop a 2000 CC Oxygen absorber in an 18″x24″ Mylar bag, seal it and forget about it?
Watch the Ready Squirrel video below to learn how to store rice in buckets with Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers, including the tools you need and step-by-step instructions.
Store hundreds of pounds of rice on the cheap check out the Ready Squirrel article, “How to Store Rice in a 5-gallon Bucket. “
Freezing Rice Takes Time and Freezer Space
If you’re doing long-term storage, you are probably processing large quantities of rice because you are buying in bulk to get good deals.
Let’s say you bought a 50 lb bag of white rice at a big box store.
How much rice can you fit in your freezer? Let’s say it’s 10 pounds. So the first 10 lbs need to be in the freezer for 5 days if you follow suggested guidelines for killing bugs. That means it will take you 5 weeks of freezer time to process a 50 lb bag of rice. Uh, no thanks.
A better solution, use a 18″ x 24″ Food-grade Mylar bag, pour the rice into the bag, drop a 2000 CC Oxygen Absorber in the bag, seal the bag with a household iron, mark the package date, and rice on the bag, and you are done. Let’s say it took you 20 minutes.
Freezing Doesn’t Eliminate Bacteria on Rice: Oxygen-Free Storage Does
An oxygen-free storage container eliminates aerobic bacteria. Freezing rice before storage may actually create a healthier environment for anaerobic and aerobic bacteria to multiply. Bacteria like botulism thrive in a high moisture, low oxygen environment, and vice versa for the aerobic bacteria.
You Want To Repackage Rice So Don’t Freeze It
Leave rice in-store packaging, and you will get a maximum shelf-life of 5 years. Maybe this is good enough for you, but it won’t keep bug eggs from hatching, moths, or weevils from moving in.
If you are prepping or interested in a survival pantry, you want a 30-year shelf-life, so repackaging is a must.
Don’t Freeze Rice: Store It In Food Bags and Buckets
Store Rice with the perfect storage trifecta, Mylar bags, Food grade pales, and Oxygen Absorbers.
Mylar bags provide a superior oxygen barrier, and they are not permeable to air or moisture, better than any other DIY container except #10 cans. Still, the cans aren’t available to most people.
On the downside, Mylar bags are delicate. Rodents can chew through them, and if you move them around, they rip easily and can get pin-holing.
Buckets are tough, rodents don’t usually chew through buckets. They are stackable and easy to organize.
On the downside, buckets don’t provide a great seal. Plastic is permeable to air and the seal on pale lids is spotty.
Oxygen absorbers and an airtight container are a must for long-term rice storage. If you have weevil eggs in your rice and you just put it in a bucket, there is a good chance you will come back a couple of years later to find a squirming mess of crawlies.
Ok, people have been freezing rice for years before they store it for long-term storage, but it’s not the best method, not even close.
Imagine freezing 250 lbs of rice before storing it in 5-gallon buckets. Why? Freezer space is limited, and it takes a ridiculous amount of time to get done what you could do in minutes. If you are storing minimal amounts of rice, it might be worth it if you want to save some money, but for long-term bulk storage, it’s not practical and is poses possible challenges by creating higher moisture content.
At one point in history, freezing was pretty much the only DIY option, but Oxygen Absorbers and Mylar bags changed the food storage game. If you plan to repackage rice for long-term storage, why not use Oxygen absorbers, food-grade pales, and Mylar bags? Then freezing is an unnecessary step.
Food Packaging, Edited by Takashi Kadoya, page 230, II B., Google Scholar