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Blueberries. Why am I starting an article about how to cook black rice in a rice cooker with the word ‘blueberries’? Anthocyanin, that’s why. Er, antho-what? Anthocyanin is a powerful antioxidant and it’s what makes blueberries blue, and black rice black.
It also gives color in raspberries, aubergine/eggplant, dark grapes, acai, red onions, red kidney beans, and many more foods with the same dark colors.
And what else do all these colorful foods have in common? They are extremely good for you. It’s one of the reasons blueberries and all those other foods are so popular. It’s also one of the reasons why black rice is becoming so popular.
They also share a common desirability because of their delicious flavors.
More on Anthocyanin later, but the main thing to remember is that it’s very good for you. So a great reason to think about using black rice in your diet more, not just because of the yummy taste. And it’s a little bit different.
Good For You But Very Naughty
Another reason to eat more black rice is that, shhh, don’t tell anyone but… it’s… forbidden! Well, not exactly. You won’t need to go to a black market dealer to get it.
Oh, see what I did there? Black rice from the black market.
Don’t panic and close the blinds, you can get it quite freely and openly, and legally in many shops. It’s known as forbidden rice because in years gone by in China it was so prized because of its superior quality and the health benefits that it was kept exclusively for royalty and the highest in society.
It wasn’t allowed for us regular folk, hence – forbidden black rice.
So a little bit of historical naughtiness about it adds to its appeal.
What Does It Taste Like?
Black rice is a whole grain so has that more wholesome taste as well as texture. It has a distinct nuttiness from the outer bran shell but with a little sweetness on the inside. A more complex, richer taste than white rice. And much better for you.
Can You Cook It In A Rice Cooker?
Yes, you can cook black rice in a rice cooker. It’s similar enough to brown rice to be cooked in a similar way, so a rice cooker will do a great job with perfect results. Even better if you have a brown rice setting on your rice cooker.
Of course, you could cook it the old-fashioned way in a pan on the hob, but rice cookers are so much easier and cleaner to use and create great results. You can get perfectly cooked rice without constant watching and checking in a pan. And without the messy clean-up if you get it wrong in a pan.
The clever thing about a rice cooker is that it stops cooking when all the water has gone from the pot, having been absorbed by the rice or steamed away. So it can’t burn the rice. Unlike if you forget about the rice in a pan, it will keep cooking and eventually burn.
Thought For The Day – when you go to collect your takeaway, do they get the rice out of a saucepan or a rice cooker?
Let’s Get To The Instructions
Before you start, be careful as you could get stains from the dark pigment in the rice.
1 – Measure your quantity of black rice. It’s much easier to do this before it gets wet in the next step.
2 – Rinse the rice. It’s really important to rinse the rice well. This will get rid of the starch which will otherwise make it gooey, which you don’t want, hopefully. Use lots of water and a bowl and/or a sieve or fine colander and rinse the rice until the water is as clean as you can get it.
3 – Drain the rice well. Firstly, so you get rid of as much of the starch as possible. And also so you know you’re getting the ratio of water to rice correct when you add it all to the rice cooker.
4 – Put the rice in the rice cooker making sure you remember how much is going in.
5 – Add fresh water, or if you prefer, a stock. I like a nice watery vegetable stock. Add 2 cups for every cup of rice. Some say a little more and others a little less, so 2 to 1 is a good starting point the first time and you can adjust it slightly after then if needed depending on your preference, recipe, and rice.
6 – Depending on your recipe you can also add some flavors to the rice before cooking. Also, don’t forget black rice is commonly used sweet in desserts so it’s not just a case of adding savory things like stock or seasoning.
7 – When you’re ready it is just a case of popping the lid on and switching the rice cooker on. Don’t forget if you are lucky enough to have a brown rice setting on your rice cooker then switch it to that.
8 – It should take about 30 minutes. Again you can adjust the time if it’s not quite right. The worst case is you can always add more water and start again.
We talk a lot in ‘cups’ as a measurement of volume. Technically 1 cup is 250ml, that’s a quarter of a liter or 8 fluid ounces. It does depend on what you’re using the rice for but generally works on half a cup of uncooked rice per person. This will double in size when cooked to produce 1 cup per person, obviously.
If you don’t have a proper measurement you can use whatever container you have at hand, like a glass or mug that’s close enough. Just make sure you use the same thing for the water to get the 2 to 1 ratio right. As a guide, if you had a standard basic straight-sided mug of tea/coffee/vodka after you’ve had a couple of sips, you’ll have left about 250ml or, 1 cup.
You could try working in handfuls of rice but that gets a bit hard when it comes to measuring the water. Especially after your mug of vodka.
Tell Me What’s So Good About Black Rice
OK, seeing as you asked, let’s get back to anthocyanin and all the other benefits of black rice. I hope you’re ready for this.
Anthocyanin is an antioxidant-free radical-fighting flavonoid! Yep, me neither, no idea.
In simpler terms that we can all understand, it helps protect the body’s cells from damage and inflammation and cleanses the body.
Black rice has very high levels of anthocyanin; more than blueberries and the highest of any other grain.
Studies have shown black rice may help control cholesterol levels and blood pressure and blood sugar. So may help prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
It has a Low GI (Glycemic Index) of 42. Compare that to white rice of around 70-90. That means black rice is really good for diabetics.
If you didn’t know – Glycemic Index is a measure of how quickly each food affects blood sugar level. A slower release is better than a sudden surge of blood sugar; especially for diabetics. The index is based on pure glucose with a GI of 100, so the lower the GI the slower the release, and therefore the lower the better. A GI below 55 is considered low GI/good.
So a GI of 42 for black rice is pretty good. Take a moment to think about where white rice is on that scale! Up to 90. Not much less than glucose!
Black rice also has fewer calories and fewer carbs than white or brown rice. But it has more protein than its cousins. Around 15-20% of the daily amount per serving.
It’s a good source of fiber. Black rice has about 6g or 25% of the daily amount per serving. Fiber is good for a healthy digestive system and overall health.
Good for your eyes. Black rice has Vitamin E and high amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that help protect the cells and reduce the effects of ultraviolet radiation on your eyes.
As if all that wasn’t enough black rice is also a good source of iron, zinc, manganese, magnesium, and other minerals that help maintain your overall health.
Is it any wonder that black rice was so prized and the nobility wanted to keep it all for themselves. Thankfully it is now available to everyone.
What’s Stopping You?
Now you know how to cook black rice in a rice cooker and you know how good it is for you and how delicious it can be, find some great recipes or adapt ones using white or brown rice. Or as always, experiment.
Grab the rice cooker and give black rice a try.
You’ll be glad you did. It’s good to have a little bit of something forbidden from time to time.