The Lemon Juice Hack That Makes Rice Bright And Fluffy

Rice is a staple ingredient in many cuisines across the world, and learning how to cook rice is often one of the first things that at-home chefs try to master. But cooking the grain, and doing so well, are two different things, and even simple dishes are easy to mess up. With rice, that usually comes down to the texture. A light and fluffy finish is the aim for many dishes and sides, but how do you stop it all from clumping together in the pan?

While some recipes call for sticky rice, on other occasions, that's the last thing you want. But, even if you've followed the recipe to the letter, you can still find that the rice sticks together, or even worse, adheres to the pan you're cooking it in.

Luckily, it's easy to get the lightest, fluffiest rice with one simple trick. All you need to do is add a little lemon juice to the water while you're cooking.

Lemon juice makes rice look whiter and brighter

You only need to add a small amount of lemon juice to the water rice cooks in for the best results, and don't worry, it won't alter the flavor. Between a quarter of a teaspoon and a single teaspoon of juice is enough to stop the rice from clumping, without making it taste like lemon.

It's not just the texture of rice that benefits from a few drops of lemon juice, either. The citrus fruit also helps the cooked grains to look whiter, brighter, and more appetizing. Just as lemon juice can prevent other foods from discoloring, such as apples or avocadoes, the acid in the fruit also helps rice to retain its brightness.

The addition of citrus to the cooking water also stops the rice from coloring, even after it has been cooked and allowed to cool down. Which means it's also a great tip for keeping leftover rice look more appealing for the next dish you'll use it in.

Other tricks for making fluffy, flavorful rice

Beyond adding lemon juice, there are other a few simple tips to help you get the best possible texture every time when you cook rice. Before you start, it's best to rinse the grains to get rid of any excess starches, and to help keeps them separate. Rinse until the water runs clear, and is not cloudy.

Another key step for a fluffy texture is to make sure you're using the right ratio of water to rice when cooking. For long grain rice, such as basmati, jasmine, or white long grain, it should be around two cups of water for each cup of grains. The amount of rice will vary according to the type you're cooking, so if you're using a short grain rice, which tends to be stickier, you need less water.

You also don't have to use plain water for cooking rice each time. While lemon juice adds brightness and helps to keep it fluffy, you can add other aromatics to enhance the flavor. Spices such as cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, chicken or vegetable broth, or even a green tea bag, all add different flavors. Or if you're after the actual zingy flavor of lemon as well as the fluffiness it brings, try adding a strip of lemon zest to your water as well as the juice when you're prepping your dish.