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10 Creative Uses for Rice: It's Not Just for Dinner

Wednesday October 31, 2018

Cooking isn't the only way to use rice. It's also great for craft projects, decorating, and household chores. Try these 10 creative uses for rice provided by Ken LaGrande, President of Sun Valley Rice and the author of "A Rice Conversation."

1. Make a heat or ice compress.
Need to put heat on a sore neck or aching back? How about an ice pack to relieve swelling or help soothe a headache? Simply put a few cups of uncooked rice in a sock, and either heat it in the microwave or put it in the freezer. When microwaving, start with 1.5 minutes. If it's not hot enough, add more time in 30 second intervals.

2. Dry water out of electronics.
If you've dropped your cellphone in the toilet or spilled water on your iPad, rice can be a lifesaver. Fill a bowl or Ziploc bag with rice, place your device inside, and let it sit overnight. The rice will slowly absorb the water and often leave it good as new. (Sadly, this might not work if you've spilled soda, juice, or other sugary beverages on a device.)

3. Decorate with it.
Looking for a creative way to hold silk flowers in place inside a vase? Instead of Styrofoam or glass marbles, fill the bottom of the vase with rice. Add a pop of color by dying the rice with food coloring first. This is also a great way to liven up clear candle holders. Make layers of multicolored rice, and place a tea light candle on top.

4. Keep your salt shaker unclogged.
Prevent salt from clumping in the shaker by putting a few grains of rice on the bottom before filling it up. The rice absorbs any moisture and keeps salt flowing freely.

5. Help fruit ripen.
Tired of waiting on produce to ripen? Place it in a paper bag with ½ cup of uncooked rice. By absorbing moisture, rice will help speed up the ripening process so your fruit is ready to enjoy sooner.

6. Clean your coffee grinder.
For coffee lovers who prefer freshly ground beans, a burr grinder is a must-have kitchen accessory. But after many uses, these appliances end up covered with an oily residue that looks dirty and can make coffee taste bad. For a cheap and easy way to clean it, grind ¼ cup of rice for about a minute. The oils and leftover coffee should cling to the rice residue. Dump this out and wipe the grinder with a damp paper towel.

7. Clean coffee pots and glass vases.
To remove residue and stains from glass coffee pots and vases, add a few tablespoons of rice to hot water and liquid soap, then shake and swirl until it's clean. The abrasiveness of the rice helps to remove tough stains.

8. Sharpen the blades on your blender.
If blender blades are getting dull or rusty, correct the problem by the pouring ½ cup of rice into the blender and running it for a couple minutes. (Don't forget to put the lid on first.)

9. Make rice glue.
A popular art supply in Japan, rice glue dries hard and is nearly transparent, making it ideal for paper crafts. You can buy it pre-made or make your own at home. You'll need one cup of rice (preferably a sticky variety like sushi rice or basmati) and three to four cups of water. Combine these ingredients in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it begins to look like oatmeal. If it's not the right consistency, add more water and keep boiling. Remove from heat and let it cool. Then push the mixture through a sieve to remove any larger pieces. (You can also put it in the blender.) Pour into a jar and refrigerate between uses.

10. Make noise makers for kids.
Put uncooked rice in a closed container, such as a cup with lid, plastic egg, old pill bottle, or two paper plates that have been glued together. Then send them outside to make music!