Healthiest Way To Cook Brown Rice

This Is Why We Always Ferment Brown Rice

Fermenting is an ancient practice that predigests your food for you so that your body can more easily absorb its nutrients. In this article we’ll look at how soaking and germination change brown rice before you cook it, plus discuss how fermentation improves phytic acid levels and makes zinc more bioavailable for absorption into our bodies. You will learn a method of this trade-secret that you can try at home, where you will notice a big improvement in flavour and texture of your next batch of rice.

Brown rice is a whole grain, which means it contains the bran, germ and endosperm.

The bran is the outer layer of the rice kernel that provides us with fiber and other nutrients. The germ is an inner portion of each kernel where new plant life grows, so it’s also rich in vitamins E, B1/B3/B5/B9, phosphorous and iron. The endosperm is a starchy carbohydrate (carbohydrates are one of three macronutrients).

Brown rice can be eaten on its own or included as part of a meal like stir-fry or a bowl like our Zushi series (we offer this for our meal prep service in Calgary). Because brown rice has more fiber than white rice you’ll feel fuller for longer after consuming this type of whole grain—which means you might be less likely to reach for snacks if you’re trying to lose weight!

Fermented brown rice has a lower phytic acid content.

Phytic acid is an antinutrient that can bind to nutrients in your digestive tract, preventing them from being absorbed by the body. It’s found in whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and soy products. Phytic acid is not bad for us, we just prefer the diverse nutrients locked in the grain!

For another example, sauerkraut is a fermented food that is high in lactic acid bacteria. These little friends produce the phytase enzyme which breaks down phytic acid during the fermentation process. A similar process occurs when fermenting brown rice at home.

Soaking, germination and fermentation also increase zinc absorption and reduce antinutrient compounds that keep you from absorbing zinc from your food.

Zinc is an essential mineral that plays a role in many bodily functions. It helps maintain your immune system, supports healthy growth and development, and promotes healing. Zinc also helps prevent the breakdown of protein in your body.

Of the many benefits of fermented foods, it’s been known to help people with digestive issues like leaky gut syndrome, Crohn’s disease or celiac disease. But what makes fermented brown rice so special?

Fermenting grains like brown rice is an ancient practice that partly predigests the food for you so your body can absorb its nutrients more easily.

When you ferment foods, lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Leuconostoc break down carbohydrates in the grain and produce beneficial enzymes. These enzymes act as natural preservatives, preventing spoilage that would otherwise occur when fermenting foods at room temperature. In addition to preserving these grains for future consumption, these enzymes also enhance their nutritional value by increasing vitamin B absorption and breaking down phytates—which inhibit vitamin B absorption—in your gut.

Soak your brown rice overnight before cooking to enhance its nutritional value and help your body digest it better.

The best part is you gain all these benefits with nothing but rice and water in your kitchen.

Start by bringing dechlorinated water (boiled) to room temperature before adding the grains. Soak rice with at least 2x water to dry rice by weight in a sealed container on your counter for up to 24 hours. The rice will absorb water and we want it fully submerged throughout the soak. Drain and store some of the fluid in your fridge for later use–this is the beginning of your starter fluid!

For the next batch, use 10 parts dechlorinated water to one part starter fluid in your soak. Repeat the process above and keep the new rice soak as your starter fluid. After only three cycles, the fluid will have developed enough phytase to break down almost all of the phytic acid in the whole grain. The results improve with every batch!

When cooking, use fresh tap water instead of hot water to allow the fermented rice to slowly rise to temperature. We use 1.1x water to the soaked rice weight and add kombu kelp to the water. In our steam oven, this takes 53 minutes. A counter top rice cooker might need more water and less time. You should yield 2.8x dry rice to cooked rice with this method. Now, how can we better finish the rice?

Rice vinegar contains probiotics.

Probiotics are microorganisms that can be found in a variety of foods and dietary supplements. They further aid digestion by helping break down food, boosting your immune system and improving nutrient absorption. These tiny helpers can even help to prevent certain diseases by competing against harmful strains such as E. coli or salmonella!

Once the rice is finished, add up to the cooked rice about 2% (by weight) of sushi vinegar. We make our sushi vinegar by adding a pinch of salt and coconut sugar to rice vinegar and mixing until dissolved. Pour the vinegar mixture over your rice and fold it in to further improve the nutritional value, taste, and shelf life.


It’s not a secret that brown rice is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It has fibre and valuable nutrients, including magnesium and zinc. And now, you can increase its benefits by fermenting it in your own home! If you’ve already tried one of our Zushi Bowls, you’ve likely noticed just how delicious this method of preparing rice can be!

3 thoughts on “Healthiest Way To Cook Brown Rice

  1. […] We take this a giant leap further, and this is a big part of why we decided to fully prepare vegan meals in Calgary rather than send out boxes of ingredients. Get this: brown rice is a whole grain that is still alive. But it also contains a nutrient called phytase that our body really likes, but this can be a bad thing. We explain exactly how we turn these two aspects of brown rice into an uncommon benefit over on this page. […]

  2. […] seed oils (like canola), excessive saturated fat and high sodium content. Their chefs also freshly ferment ingredients in every dish for added probiotic […]

  3. […] can be found at Community Natural Foods and other health food stores in Calgary. See our article on fermenting brown rice for a nifty way to use kombu and a turbo-charged path to better […]

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