World’s Best Backpacking Rice

Last night in the Winters’ IGA, I almost bought a box of Minute Rice to compare cooking & tasting with the rice I’ve been using backpacking. If it hadn’t been 3$, I might have brought it home, but economy & common sense prevailed over my scientific desire for a true comparative review.

On the other hand, I don’t really need to cook instant rice in order to know that it will taste remarkably like nothing with a gummy texture. So why bother?

I like rice. My Cuban grandmother made plain white rice everyday when I was growing up. She cooked it on an electric stove in a dented saucepan with a square of brown shopping bag paper sticking out from under a lightweight lid. It was always perfect.

On my own, I have perfected the 2 cups brown rice to 3 cups water method in 30 minutes, an achievement of which I feel justifiable proud, even if the product is not quite as GQ as my pal Al’s Nicaraguan-style rice, which is rinsed and then toasted in a little olive oil with chopped onion before cooking. Al, in fact, is the fellow who revolutionized my backpacking relationship with rice 2 summers ago on the High Sierra Trail.

Guitar Lake, below Mt WhitneyOn a windy afternoon at the gorgeous & frosty Guitar Lake, Al introduced me & Mr. Jack to Kalijira Rice, the tiny aromatic rice from Bangladesh. Oh yum! This royally delicious & delicate Prince of Rice cooks in just 10 minutes. Yes, it might cook up just fine on the trail, but I haven’t tried that.

I cook it at home (yes, in 10 minutes) & then dehydrate it. On the trail, it rehydrates like a dream, while retaining its premium texture and taste. Even if this rice didn’t provide more calories, more carbs and more protein than instant rice, the eating pleasure more than repays the relatively small effort to cook & dehydrate it prior to the backpack. And the less fat, less sodium? Hmmm, you could add sea salt & a favorite oil when you cook it, whether or not you decide to add onions like my pal Al.

Mere Money Comparison
Minute Rice: $2.90/7 servings; 41c per cooked cp
Kalijira Rice: $4.20/8 servings; 52c per cooked cp

Basic Nutritional Comparison
Please be aware that instant rice does not have the full load of thiamin, iron or folic acid.


Uncle Ben’s Instant Rice, White

Serving Size: about 1 cp cooked
Calories: 190
Calories from Fat: 5
Sodium: 15 mg
Total Carbs: 43g
Dietary Fiber: 1g
Sugars: 0
Protein: 3g

Lotus Foods Tiny Rice
Serving Size: about 1 cp cooked
Calories: 200
Calories from Fat: 0
Sodium: 0 mg
Total Carbs: 56g
Dietary Fiber: 0g
Sugars: 0
Protein: 6g