How to store Brown Rice for Long Term Storage?

How to Store Brown Rice for Long-Term Storage?

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Did you know that white rice is just brown rice that’s been processed for longer shelf life? There are different strains of brown rice, but they all have the bran and germ layers of the grains intact, which makes it very nutritious. Unfortunately, brown rice goes bad quickly if it’s improperly stored because of the oils in the bran. If you want to know how to store brown rice long-term, then this article is for you.

Generally speaking, brown rice lasts 6 months in its original packaging. However, when properly stored in a 5-gallon bucket, it can be kept in storage for up to 5 years. To ensure it can reach its maximum shelf life, there are certain points every prepper should have in mind when preparing food for long-term storage.

How to store Uncooked Brown Rice

How to Store Uncooked Brown Rice Long-Term?

Uncooked brown rice can stay fresh for up to 6 months in your pantry with its original packaging. Unfortunately, though, some factors will speed up the expiry of brown rice, like oxygen, light, heat, and moisture. When grains are exposed to environmental aggressors, it significantly reduces their shelf life.

Therefore, it’s best to remove the rice from the bag it came in and repackage it. Below are popular container options you can store brown rice in:

Five-Gallon Buckets

If you’re storing a large amount of uncooked brown rice, you can use a food-grade 5-gallon bucket. 5-gallon buckets are the most secure method of storing food and are able to extend the shelf life of brown rice up to 5 years. Below are some high-level steps to properly store food in them:

  1. First, line the bucket with an 18 by 28-inch Mylar bag and pour all the rice inside.
  2. Then, place an oxygen absorber packet and close the bucket tightly.
  3. Finally, label the bucket with the date.

Oxygen absorbers are great because they’ll stop the oil in the brown rice from going bad. Additionally, the lack of oxygen will prevent pests from hatching their eggs.

On the flip side, putting brown rice in five-gallon buckets may not be the best option for short-term storage. This is because you’ll have to replace the oxygen absorber after each time you open the bucket.

Related Article: How to Store food in 5-Gallon Buckets

Related Article: Oxygen absorbers vs. Silica Gel Packets

Mylar Bags

These are also called foil pouches, and they’re made of several layers of aluminum and food-grade plastic lining. Mylar bags are great for storing brown rice because they’ll create a barrier against air, light, and moisture.

These special bags come in different sizes, so choose the size that’s suitable for your needs. Note that Mylar bags are different from regular Ziploc bags that can be punctured by the pointy ends of the rice, thus ruining the seal.

To store brown rice in a Mylar bag, pour the rice inside and remove as much of the air as possible. Then, place an oxygen absorber inside and seal it shut.

The downside of storing brown rice in Mylar bags is that they can be bit by rodents, so it may be better to place the bags in five-gallon buckets as an extra measure.

Related Article: How to Store Food in Mylar Bags: A Guide for Beginners

Storing Rice in Mason Jars

Mason Jars

These glass jars are great for storing brown rice for a long time because they’re airtight and impermeable. With mason jars, you don’t have to worry about insects moving from one bag of rice to the next while in the pantry.

Also, this option is great for storing brown rice in small batches. To pack brown rice into mason jars, follow these steps:

  1. Put the brown rice in an airtight container like a five-gallon bucket and freeze it (this will destroy the eggs of weevils or other rice insects, if there are any).
  2. After a whole day in the freezer, let the rice come back to room temperature and open the container.
  3. Place the brown rice in clean and dry mason jars with an oxygen absorber packet.
  4. Alternatively, use a food saver to remove the air from the mason jar before closing it (video).
  5. Finally, label the mason jars with the date of packing and keep them in a dark place.

Related Article: Long-Term Food Storage in Mason Jars

Storing Dried Foods

Where to Store Brown Rice in Your House

The temperature at which brown rice is stored can affect how long it will stay fresh. Generally, the lower the temperature, the longer the validity.


Brown rice can be safely stored in your pantry for three to six months. To stretch the expiry date further, place the rice in an airtight container and make sure the pantry shelves are dark.

This way, your brown rice will remain edible for up to four months beyond the best-by-date printed.


If you live close to the equator, your kitchen may be too hot to store brown rice effectively. So, it’s better to put the rice in your refrigerator.

For best results, place the brown rice in an airtight container at the back of the fridge. This ensures a constant temperature despite the opening and closing of the refrigerator. The place most affected by temperature fluctuations is the door shelf.


If you don’t have enough space in your regular refrigerator, you can use your freezer to store brown rice.

Also, this is the best option because the temperature is the lowest, and the rice will be in a dark place.

Comparing the shelf life of brown rice to white rice

How long does Brown Rice last compared to White Rice?

White rice can last four to five years in the pantry. On the other hand, brown rice will only last six months. In the fridge, white rice can remain fresh for up to 18 months, while brown rice lasts about 12 months.

For long-term storage, you should put your rice in a food-grade 5-gallon bucket. For white rice, the 5-gallon bucket will keep it good for over 25 years, while the brown type will be good for 5 years.

Pile of brown rice

How to Tell if Brown Rice has Gone Bad?

First and foremost, if you suspect your brown rice has gone bad, you should not consume it because:

  1. It tastes bad
  2. It may cause food poisoning, especially if you’ve consumed a large amount
  3. You’ll risk destroying your body’s supply of vitamins B and E

Fortunately, there are some simple ways to determine if brown rice has gone bad.


One way to tell that brown rice has expired is if it becomes rancid (source). Oxygen, heat, and light will cause the oils in the bran to go sour.

Rancid brown rice will have a strong unpleasant smell and taste. If you suspect your food to be rancid, it’s better to dispose of it immediately. Consuming rancid foods can increase free radicals in the body and lead to serious health consequences later on (source).


Mold forms on brown rice if there’s water, either in liquid form or as a vapor.

When the bag of rice isn’t sealed well, the rice will absorb water from the air and start growing mold. Adding oxygen absorbers to mason jars, sealed mylar bags, or 5-gallon buckets will help prevent mold from growing on your brown rice.

Rice Bugs


Although not particularly harmful as compared to mold and rancidity, many people are put off by the presence of insects in their food. The most common pantry pest is the rice weevil, whose eggs may have been laid in the grains before you bought them (source).

With the right conditions, the weevil eggs would hatch. After some time, the whole bag of brown rice would be infested.

Fortunately, this is where oxygen absorbers come in handy. Adding them to an airtight container will kill the pests and their eggs. Most pests cannot survive in an environment absent of air, making oxygen absorbers an effective tool for combating weevils.

brown rice cup

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions about the long-term storage of brown rice.

The shelf life of brown rice largely depends on your storage method. When stored properly, the shelf life of brown rice can be extended from 6 months to up to 5 years. Below are some of the best storage methods for brown rice:

Storage MethodMaximum Shelf Life of Uncooked Brown Rice
Pantry6 months
Fridge12 months
Freezer2 years
Mason Jar (with Oxygen Absorbers)12 months
Mylar Bag (with Oxygen Absorbers)2+ years
5-Gallon Bucket (with Oxygen Absorbers)2-5 years

Yes, vacuum-sealed bags are an effective way to store brown rice since they limit exposure to oxygen and moisture. Since brown rice has a high oil content, even just a small exposure to oxygen will make it spoil faster. However, you should know that over time, oxygen can leak into the bag, making a vacuum-sealed bag less effective. Still, in a vacuum-sealed bag, brown rice may last up to 2 years.

At a high level, the main difference between brown rice and white rice is that brown rice is closer to the rice’s natural form, and white rice is bleached in order to extend its shelf life and remove its natural flavor. Unlike white rice, brown rice retains the germ and bran layer retaining a sweeter flavor. In the milling and bleaching process, the bran and germ are removed, which contains most of the nutritional benefits of brown rice. As brown rice turns into white rice, it decreases the amount of thiamine, niacin, magnesium, riboflavin, folate, iron, and zinc found in the rice (source).

Although brown rice is highly nutritious, it has a maximum shelf life of 5 years when stored in a 5-gallon bucket. This is a much lower shelf life than other grains such as white rice, oats, and quinoa which can be stored for over 20 years. If you do not expect to consume brown rice in the next five years, you should consider other grains for long-term food storage.

Related Article: How to Store Quinoa for Maximum Shelf Life

Related Article: How to Store Oats Long Term

So your brown rice has gone bad; what do you do with it now? You could throw it away or give it a second purpose by finding alternative uses for it. Some uses for expired rice are:

  • Make an ice pack or heat pad
  • Prevent rusting tools by absorbing moisture
  • Ripen fruit
  • Breakdown clumped salt
  • Dry electronic devices that have been wet
  • DIY arts and crafts projects

spoonful of uncooked brown rice


In this article, we discussed how to store brown rice long-term. The best way to keep brown rice fresh is to portion it into small Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and place the bags in 5-gallon buckets. Alternatively, you can store brown rice in mason jars if you expect to use the food in the short term.

If you are looking to store grains for emergency preparedness, you should consider other grains. Although brown rice is healthy and can be kept in a 5-gallon bucket for 5 years, it has a significantly shorter maximum shelf life than other grains. Still, if you expect to use brown rice within 5 years, it can be a healthy food source for your family.

Related Article: 11 Supplies You Need for DIY Long-Term Food Storage

Related Article: 6 Best Grains for Long-Term Storage

Sign Up to our Newsletter for access to our catalog of FREE eBooks
Food Storage: Canning and Jarring 101

Get our latest Articles
Subscribe to our Newsletter today!

Get our latest Article and eBook
Subscribe to our Newsletter today!

Find us on

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

stay in touch

Receive survival tips in your inbox daily & access our free survival e-Books