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Taste Test: Instant white rice

No rice cooker needed, instant white rice is the perfect side dish. It's easy and practically impossible to wreck.

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Taster's Choice judges found six brands of rice that cooked up in five minutes. We boiled water, added the rice, removed the pots from the stove and waited. We did not add butter or seasonings to any of the pots, although most of the brands gave us the option. In general, panelists liked the convenience of the rice, but not the taste.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score (out of 100) Hannaford/ 54) Albertsons/ 51 Great Value/


How'd it look? Very white. Like Maine in December. Like white notes on a piano. Rice heaven. Like a cup of white coconut.
Judges' comments "The texture is just right," said one judge. "The dish is screaming for red beans!" The grains were irregular in shape, but very fluffy. "These are firm and slightly chewy," one panelist said. Others detected a nutty flavor and said the brand was the least like instant. "Just fluffy enough," one judge said. "I would like to see it comfy in the bottom of a good gumbo."
Would they buy? Two out of four said yes. Two out of four said yes. One out of four said yes.
Shopping information Widely available. $1.69 for a 14-ounce box at Sweetbay. Widely available. $1.89 for a 14-ounce box at Albertsons. Widely available. $2.56 for a 28-ounce box at Wal-Mart.
Also sampled: Uncle Ben's ($2.09 for 14 ounces at Sweetbay, 41 points); Publix ($2.59 for 28 ounces, 47 points); and Minute Premium ($1.99 for 14 ounces at Sweetbay, 44 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of [email protected]; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; and Times food critic Laura Reiley. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail them to [email protected] Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Taste Test: Instant white rice 07/15/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 18, 2008 4:40pm]
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