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Presoaking hurts rice flavor.

Water-soaking rice for 30 minutes or longer prior to cooking is traditionally practiced in Japan, Korea and other Asian countries. When soaked, rice grains hydrate, develop cracks, and water is absorbed. Soaking facilitates uniform cooking and shortens cooking time.

USDA-ARS scientists undertook a study to determine the effects of pre-soaking on the release of volatile aroma compounds from cooked rice. A trained descriptive sensory panel measured the intensities of the aroma compounds in cooked pre-soaked and unsoaked rice. It turns out that undesirable animal flavor significantly increased and sweet taste significantly decreased with pre-soaking for the 11 rice samples combined. The flavor of the basmati rice samples was affected the most by presoaking. Presoaking may have undesirable effects on cooked rice flavor.

Soaking facilitates uniform cooking and shortens cooking time. The cooked kernel is usually less firm. Scientists wanted to learn if there were any effects resulting from pre-soaking on the flavor of cooked rice and whether flavor differences could be associated with textural changes that could influence retention of the aroma compounds.

In experiments, 11 samples of short-, medium- and long-grain milled rice representing scented and non-scented rice, and a wide range of amylose contents, were presented to a descriptive sensory panel. In the rice samples combined, undesirable sewer-animal flavor significantly increased and sweet taste significantly decreased when the samples were presoaked for 30 minutes.

For individual rice samples, significantly higher sewer-animal intensity was observed when the two Basmati rice samples and one of the U.S. long-grain rice samples were presoaked. When presoaked, sweet taste was significantly lower in one of the Basmati and Jasmine rice samples, in the U.S. medium-grain rice and in one U.S. long-grain rice sample.

A water-like metallic taste was significantly higher in one of the presoaked Basmati samples. Presoaking also caused significant increases in combined negative flavor attributes, and significant decreases in combined positive flavor attributes for all rice samples combined.

The effects of presoaking on texture, as measured by TPA hardness and chewiness, did not explain the observed increases in negative flavor attributes. An increase in free sulfur-containing free amino acids that occurred with presoaking could have resulted in an increase of their breakdown products and contributed to the increase in sewer-animal flavor. The decreases in sweet taste and combined positive flavor attributes were likely the result of masking caused by the increases in sewer-animal and combined negative flavor attributes.

Further information. Elaine Champagne, USDA-ARS Southern Regional Research Center, Room 3030, Building 001, 1100 Robert E. Lee Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70124; phone: 504-286-4448; fax: 504-763-4419; email:
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Publication:Emerging Food R&D Report
Date:Jun 1, 2009
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