10 Weird and Wonderful Ways to Use Rice
Rice is a staple in our pantry, and we live in a community that uses a lot of it. In fact, natural disasters (tsunamis, hurricanes, or flooding) often bring on frantic “runs on rice." Because our town’s demographic is so dependent on the grain (often eaten at breakfast, lunch, and dinner), when there are impending disasters, people hurry to grocery stores to buy large bags of rice, toilet paper, and water.
When you have a lot of rice, and need to use it up before it goes bad, you start looking at alternative uses for it. Here are some you may not have heard of. (See also: Waste Not, Want Not: Stop Throwing Away Your Food!)
When we moved to a very humid climate years ago, we encountered a problem with salt. It stuck together, and salting our food quickly became a battle of man vs. shaker. After trying out a few supposedly high-tech, moisture-proof model salt shaker models, we went the cheap route and added some rice to our shaker. It works like a charm.
Zap a homemade, re-useable cloth rice bag in the microwave for about 60 seconds, and then wrap it around your neck, shoulders, or lower back. They are easy to make. Rice bags feel great, and the rice allows you to squish the bag into the most comfortable position. I prefer my rice bag to a heating pad. Plus, they smell good when the rice is heated. Here is a neck-shaped version for even more comfort.
Eat Spam Musubi
What? Spam? Don’t knock this delicacy until you’ve tried it.& They are great for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack. In Hawaii they are sold in convenience stores, bake sales, farmer’s markets...you get the idea. Spam is sliced and fried in soy sauce (or “shoyu”) and a little sugar, then assembled with rice, furikake seasonings, and wrapped in seaweed (nori). Musubis hold together well, making them a great thing to eat when you are on the go. They are also usually inexpensive — under $2. To get fancier, add a little scrambled egg or chicken. There are many variations, but here is a good basic one to start with.
Dry Cell Phones
Ever drop your phone in a puddle (or worse)? Before you panic, give drying it out a shot, using (drum roll) rice. Just drop your wet cell phone in a bucket of rice.
Rice as art? Sure. I’ll credit my mother, who taught Kindergarten, with this craft.& Start with a bag of white rice (brown won’t work). In a large Ziploc, combine 3 T. water, 2–5 drops of food coloring, seal, and mix. Then open the bag, add a cup of rice, re-close and shake the Ziploc. Drain off the excess water and spread the rice out on paper towels or newspaper to dry. (Drying is best done somewhere where you cannot stain your countertops, floor or carpet!) Use the dried rice with white glue to make a mosaic. This is especially fun if you make several colors of dyed rice. It also looks pretty, displayed in decorative bottles.
Credit again goes to Mom (who also made guitars out of cereal boxes with rubber bands — but that’s another article). Fill a clean, empty container about halfway with rice and close SECURELY. Instant maracas! Here's a video making maracas with a brown paper bag and rice:
Rice in cherry pie? Not really, but try using it as a pie weight to keep pastry under control.
With flower vases, there is often that dirty gunk in the bottom that you can’t reach with a scrubber. Pour in a few tablespoons of uncooked rice, add some water, and swirl. Remove the rice-y dirt and prepare to be amazed at the clean vase.
DIY Pet Toy
Here, kitty, kitty. Our cats love this new cat toy, because they are sure there is something INSIDE. If only they had thumbs. You just need an old (clean) pill bottle and a little rice.
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend — but could “rice jewelry” be a good buddy? Believe it or not, there are a fair number of internet sellers who can engrave individual grains of rice with your name (or someone else’s) and make jewelry out of it. The grain is then sealed in a tiny vial, filled with a “magnifying solution,” and strung into necklaces, earrings, etc.
Readers, if you have other uses for the grain, please share!