Thursday, 9 April 2009


I love rice, it's my favourite 'carb' and goes well with any main course.

Cooking rice when camping is a hassle though; you need a big pan, lots of water and it needs cooking for 10 minutes +.

There are 'easy-cook' versions of rice but I've never found them any easier, they can take longer to cook and require just as much water and fuel. Similarly there are 'cook in the bag' versions but these still require significant fuel, water and time. Both these types of rice taste artificial to me and if they are flavoured they're often full of additives and artificial flavours.

You could always use 'wok' or microwave rice which comes in an ambient pack and just requires heating. Unless you're backpacking with a microwave these are very difficult to heat, you could always eat them cold but that seems a grim prospect to me. An added disadvantage is that these ambient packs are heavy and about 50% of the weight you're carrying is just water.

Now there is a solution, cook the rice at home, dehydrate and then just rehydrate when you need it!

Everyone knows how to cook rice, right?

Just in case you don't here's a fool-proof method.

  • Use good quality long-grain rice. Basmati is best.
  • Add one handful of dry rice per portion to the water. Do not add any more rice at a later stage, cooking time is vital.
  • Take a large pan filled with boiling water (you can't use too big a pan or too much water. Not using enough however will fail to cook the rice properly.
  • With the water at a rolling boil add salt and any flavouring. For rice with curry you can add turmeric, cumin and / or fennel seeds. You can add stock cubes but to me this just replicates the artificial flavour of 'packet' flavoured rice. Plus if you use, for example, chicken stock cubes this will limit which dishes the rice will go well with.
  • Stir the water / rice gently just to ensure there are no clumps of dry rice.
  • Cook at a low boil for 5 minutes stirring every 2 minutes or so. Stir gently to avoid breaking the grains of rice.
  • At this stage you can add finely-sliced mushrooms (or other veg) if that suits your taste
  • Keep stirring gently every 2 minutes or so
  • After 9 minutes you need to concentrate and stay near the pan. Fill the kettle and switch it on.
  • Try one or two grains every minute or so until the rice is cooked.
  • Ideally rice should be soft but still with some 'bite'. The difference between perfect rice and mushy gloop is only 2 minutes cooking so constant trying and testing is vital.
  • As soon as the rice is cooked strain it in a collander.
  • Wash the rice with the boiling water from the kettle.
  • 'Fluff' the rice with a fork or a pair of chopsticks to ensure it drains properly.
  • The rice can now be served

Rice can be successfully frozen in portion-sized bags (you can resurrect it easily by pouring boiling water on it and draining), or dehydrated.
As it's so easy to freeze I tend to make 5/6 portions at once and then freeze 4 portions for later use.

To dehydrate the rice just place it in your dehydrator and leave it until it is completely dry, having weighed it before and after dehydrating - note the difference in weight; each gramme of weight lost equates to 1 ml of water you need to add to rehydrate.

Rehydrating is easy, add the required amount of water, pop it in your cosy for 15 minutes (shake it up a couple of times during this to ensure it's all mixed well).

You'll have perfectly-cooked warm rice with no cooking required in camp, it doesn't need draining and there are no messy pans to wash up

100gm ('wet' weight) is an ideal portion size, it dehyrates to 50gm and rehydrates perfectly following the addition of 50ml of boiling water in just 15 minutes - duiring which time you can be doing something more interesting than cooking on a camping stove!

1 comment:

  1. That's great information. After ploughing through so many US websites and blogs, it is refreshing to see a dedicated UK backpacking recipe site that uses fresh ingredients, not commercial packets of everything. Thank you.