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Rice milk (rice drink, raw? Organic?)

Rice milk (rice drink) is a plant-based milk made from rice and water. It is lactose-free. You can easily make it. It is never raw, but can be organic.
The information we compiled for this ingredient is almost complete and includes many specific details.
Macronutrient carbohydrates 85.4%
Macronutrient proteins 1.58%
Macronutrient fats 13.03%

The three ratios show the percentage by weight of macronutrients (carbohydrates / proteins / fats) of the dry matter (excl. water).

Ω-6 (LA, 0.3g)
Omega-6 fatty acid such as linoleic acid (LA)
 : Ω-3 (ALA, <0.1g)
Omega-3 fatty acid such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
 = 0:0

Omega-6 ratio to omega-3 fatty acids should not exceed a total of 5:1. Link to explanation.

Values are too small to be relevant.

Nutrient tables

Rice milk or rice drink is a grain milk that basically consists of water and rice. Commercial products usually contain vegetable oils as well. Depending on the manufacturer, they may also be enriched with flavors, minerals or thickeners. Rice drinks are a popular alternative for people who are lactose intolerant or want to avoid animal products.

Culinary uses of rice milk

With its mild, sweet taste, rice milk is reminiscent of its starting products, rice and water. Rice milk is particularly suitable for sweet dishes or desserts. The lactose-free and vegan plant-based milk is popular for muesli, porridge (oatmeal), pudding, rice pudding or banana bread. Rice milk is also popular in smoothies, as refreshment in between meals or as a warm cocoa drink (vegan hot chocolate) on winter days. Animal milk contained in baked goods can easily be replaced with vegan rice milk. This is an effortless way to make vegan buns, vegan cakes and vegan pancakes.1 You can find many rice milk recipes on the internet.

Oat milk or soy milk are better suited for the preparation of savory dishes, e.g., béchamel sauce or mashed potatoes because they are less sweet. However, tastes differ: if you don't mind the slight sweetness of rice milk, you can also use it for savory dishes. Simply try your way through the various milk alternatives to find your personal favorite.

Rice drink is usually made from boiled (and/or briefly roasted) rice, so rice milk is not considered raw food. It is never raw, but can be bought or made organic.

How to make rice milk

How to make rice milk? Rice milk production is basic. Since homemade rice milk contains no additives, it is considered healthier than the store-bought version.

To produce half a liter of rice milk, you only need 500 ml of water, 100-150 g of cooked rice (organic short grain rice is best, but long-grain white rice or fragrant rice also works), a pinch of salt and a blender.

First cook the rice as usual. Then put it in a blender with 250 ml of water. Gradually add more water during the blending process. Allow the mass to rest for at least 1 hour before further processing. Thanks to a kitchen towel, a nut milk bag or a fine-pored sieve, you can filter the finished mass and put it in a suitable container (glass with screw cap). In an airtight seal, the rice milk will keep in the fridge for about 2–4 days. Shake the drink well before consumption so that the cloudy matter that has settled can be lifted off the bottom.2

If you want some variety, you can refine the vegan rice drink with spices or sweeten it a little. Simply add some cinnamon, natural vanilla extract or 2-3 pitted dates to the mix during the blending process.

Vegan Recipe for Spelt Rolls with Rice Milk

Ingredients (for 6-8 rolls): 140 ml + 50 ml rice drink (organic), 1 cube of fresh yeast, 1 tbsp raw cane sugar (or less), 500 g spelt flour (or whole meal spelt flour), 1 tsp salt, 2 tbsp rapeseed oil (refined).

Procedure: Mix the rice drink with yeast and sugar and leave to rest for 1 hour. Then add spelt flour, salt and oil and work everything into a dough with a dough hook. Add the remaining 50 ml rice milk and knead briefly again. Let the dough rest in a bowl for 1 hour. Then form the dough into a roll and cut off 6-8 even pieces. Shape them into small buns and let them rise for another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 °C top and bottom heat and bake the rolls in it for about 30 minutes. The rolls can be brushed with warm water shortly before baking and sprinkled with sesame, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds.

Vegan Hazelnut Dessert with Rice Milk Recipe

Ingredients (for 4 people): 25 g margarine, 1 tbsp whole meal spelt flour, 100 g ground hazelnuts, 300 ml rice milk (organic), 2 tbsp raw cane sugar, 1 dash of lemon juice.

Procedure: Mix the hazelnuts with the raw cane sugar. Melt the margarine in a large saucepan, stir in the flour and work into a roux. Stir in some of the hazelnuts and slowly add the rice milk, stirring constantly. Now you work the rest of the hazelnut and raw cane sugar mixture into the hot mass. Then add a squeeze of lemon juice and bring to the boil again, stirring well. Divide the desert between 4 bowls and allow the mixture to cool before serving.

To find vegan recipes with rice milk follow the reference: "Recipes that have the most of this ingredient".

Purchasing - storage

Rice milk is available in almost all supermarket chains, such as Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods Markets, Kroger, Target, Albertsons and Safeway (United States); Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl, and Holland & Barret (Great Britain); Metro, Extra Foods, Real Canadian Superstore and Goodness Me (Canada); and Coles, Woolworths, and Harris Farm (Australia). Organic shops, organic supermarkets, natural food or health food stores also sell organic quality rice milk.

Manufacturers tend to add vitamins and minerals (like calcium), flavoring, sugar and salt to the nutrient-poor and unflavored rice milk. Vegetable thickeners such as guar gum (E412) or carrageenan (E407) can also be added to the drink to counteract the liquid consistency. When purchasing, be sure to check whether the rice milk is fortified or sweetened, and whether any additives or added sugar are listed under the ingredients. Non-fortified rice milk is often found with the labels original, natural, unsweetened, classic or pure.

Rice milk is available in a variety of flavors. Vanilla rice milk and chocolate ice milk are often found on the shelves next to normal rice milk and are only slightly more expensive than the original product.

In addition to different flavors, you can also find mixtures with hazelnut milk, almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk and occasionally with fruits (e.g., mango-vanilla) in the market.

Storage tips

The homemade rice milk keeps well sealed in the fridge for 2–4 days. A store-bought, ultra-high temperature rice milk will keep for a few months to years, unopened and not refrigerated. As soon as you have opened it, it can only be kept for 2–4 days and must be kept in the refrigerator.3

Ingredients - nutritional values - calories

100 g rice milk contains 50 kcal. Rice milk consists mostly of water and contains hardly any proteins, fats, fibers or other nutrients.4

Rice milk contains 51 mg/100g sodium which covers 6 % of the daily requirement. However, this high content does not only come from the rice, but is usually added afterward, e.g., in the form of table salt, sea salt or from algae. Soy milk and oat milk have comparable sodium values. Sweet soy sauce (4,240 mg) and normal breadcrumbs (400 mg) have significantly higher values.4 Together with potassium, sodium is responsible for maintaining the membrane potential of the cells in the body. Don't exceed the recommended daily amount of sodium too much because too much sodium can increase blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease.5

With 0.46 mg/100g vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) in rice milk, it can account for around 4 % of the daily requirement (approx. 2000 kcal per day diet). The proportion of vitamin E in rice milk can be compared to grated coconut and oatmeal. On the other hand, almonds (25.6 mg) and hazelnuts (15 mg) have a lot more of the vitamin E.4 As an antioxidant, vitamin E protects polyunsaturated fatty acids in membrane lipids, lipoproteins and depot fat from being destroyed by oxidation (lipid peroxidation).6

You can find the total ingredients of rice milk, the coverage of the daily requirement and comparison values ​​with other ingredients in our nutrient tables above.

Health effects

Is rice milk healthy? Rice milk has very little rice, and this grain milk consists mostly of water. Due to the filtering, it contains only a few proteins and fats (low rice milk fat content) and has almost no nutrients. Due to the carbohydrates it contains, rice milk is a quick source of energy. Rice drink also contains no cholesterol, which is why manufacturers like to market it as "heart-friendly".

Rice milk is vegan, milk protein-free, lactose-free, and gluten-free. It is therefore suitable for people with lactose intolerance, cow's milk allergy or soy allergy and for vegans. Rice milk cannot be considered a rich source of protein, as it contains almost no protein.

Because rice milk contains no so-called FODMAPs, it is very digestible. FODMAPs are certain carbohydrate compounds (fermentable multiple, double, simple sugars and polyhydric alcohols) that can lead to digestive problems such as bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea.7 People with irritable bowel syndrome or unclear digestive problems can also use rice milk.

Dangers - intolerances - side effects

How healthy is rice milk for kids? Due to arsenic contamination in rice cultivation, rice milk also contains arsenic and is therefore only suitable to a limited extent for small children because they can absorb arsenic more easily from rice milk than adults. However, the market for plant-based milk is now huge. Alternatively, you can switch to milk made from almonds, hazelnuts, soy, oats, quinoa or millet or use it in addition to rice milk. Arsenic is found in high concentrations in groundwater in many rice-growing areas. Microorganisms convert the inorganic arsenic into organic forms (monomethyl arsenic acid (MMA) or dimethyl arsenic acid (DMA)) and make it available to plants. Regular consumption of arsenic is genotoxic, chromosomal damaging and can promote cancer.8,9

Arsenic accumulates through the roots ten times more in rice than in other grains. Rice milk can contain arsenic in concentrations that are harmful to health. In September 2013, the Food and Drug Administration found up to 46 μg of inorganic arsenic per liter of rice milk. For drinking water, the maximum value in the EU is 10 μg/L. However, other rice products, such as rice cakes, can also be affected. Caution should be exercised, especially with infants and young children.10,19,20

Garlic is believed to be a prophylactic and helps reduce the arsenic content in the blood and urine. Substances containing sulfur, such as allicin, are said to cause arsenic to precipitate. This was confirmed through animal experiments by the Indian Institute of Chemical Biology in Kolkata.11 It is somewhat questionable whether two to three cloves of garlic a day are realistic for children.

Ecological footprint - animal welfare

The environmental balance of rice milk is worse compared to other plant-based milks. Rice cultivation produces significantly more greenhouse gases. Wet rice cultivation releases methane as a result of putrefaction processes, and dry rice cultivation releases nitrous oxide into the air. The frequent use of pesticides in conventional rice cultivation causes soil contamination, so it is always advisable to buy organic rice products.

Long transport routes, the heavy processing and sale in beverage cartons also make the ecological balance rather poor.

Many rice drinks are fortified with calcium. Algae lime from dead algae (Lithothamnium calcareum) is usually used for grain drinks, depending on the manufacturer from different regions, e.g., from the North Sea or the Atlantic Ocean. Even if the living algae are not used here, instead the dead parts are collected from the seabed, there stays the question whether this is permitted for organic products.15 A German Federal Administrative Court ruled that enrichment violates the EU organic regulation. However, in 2018 the judgment was forwarded to the European Court of Justice for a final decision. After a thorough examination, Bio-Suisse decided in 2018 that the addition of this mineral is not permitted.16 According to the EU Implementing Regulation 2019, algae lime of natural origin is back on the list.17 However, individual organic associations may or may not allow its use.

Worldwide occurrence - cultivation

For a long time, soy milk was the best substitute for cow's milk. Researchers in Sweden developed the process for alternative milk substitute drinks, such as oat drinks, in 1993.

Rice is the second most important grain in the world and staple food for about half of the world's population. Rice is used for all kinds of dishes, especially in Asia. It is therefore not surprising that 90 % of rice production takes place in Asian countries such as China, India, Japan and Thailand.12 However, rice is also grown in Brazil and the USA, as well as in European countries such as Italy, Spain and France.

Industrial production

The first step is to finely grind the harvested whole grain rice, then boil it with water and mash it. This creamy, slimy mash is now fermented. Enzymes are added to convert the long-chain starch into polysaccharides, which gives the drink its mild sweetness. After that, the watery grain mash has to be sieved and filtered in several steps. The filter residue can be used as animal feed. The filtrate, which now appears watery, is emulsified with vegetable oil (mostly sunflower oil or safflower oil) to improve the taste because rice is almost fat-free.

Rice contains more vegetable lecithin than oats, which is why you can do without it when making rice milk. Lecithin is a component of animal and human cell membranes and enables fats and water to be emulsified. It also has stabilizing, hydrating, homogenizing and texture-improving properties, making it a popular food additive.13

For a more full-bodied taste, you can add some sea salt to the grain milk. Homogenizing the ingredients leads to better distribution. A longer shelf life is guaranteed with ultra-high heating. In addition, this process gelatinizes the starch contained and makes the drink gel-like. The taste sensation in the mouth is similar to that of animal milk.1

Additional information

The term "rice milk" is actually incorrect because the term milk is legally protected in some countries (EU Regulation No. 1308/2013 of the European Parliament and Council of December 17, 2013). Only products obtained by milking an udder (cow's milk, sheep's milk, goat's milk) may be called milk. Plant-based milk alternatives may therefore be found in stores under the names "beverage" or "drink".

Alternate names

In English, rice drink is called rice milk, but you can also find products labelled as rice drink or brown rice drink.

Other applications

Rice milk is also used in the cosmetics industry. It is said that rice milk contains antioxidants and acids that protect the skin against UV radiation and can reduce wrinkles and spots. Rice milk is said to help soothe irritated skin in the event of sunburn. The ingredient rice milk can be found in soaps, cleaning water and shower baths. Rice drink is also used in hair products: shampoos, conditioners and hair masks. Rice water, not rice milk, is part of the traditional hair care routine, especially in Japan14, and it still enriches many cosmetic products today. The fermented version of the rice water is said to be even more effective.18

Bibliography - 20 Sources Reisdrink Warenkunde. Reismilchherstellung. Warenkunde Reismilch.
4.USDA United States Department of Agriculture.
5.Leyvraz M, Chatelan A et al. Sodium intake and blood pressure in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis of experimental and observational studies. Int J Epidemiol. 1. Dezember 2018;47(6):1796–810.
6.Lee GY, Han SN. The role of vitamin e in immunity. Nutrients. 1. November 2018;10(11).
7.Barrett JS. How to institute the low-FODMAP diet. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. März 2017;32 Suppl 1:8–10.
8.Banerjee M, Banerjee N et al. High arsenic in rice is associated with elevated genotoxic effects in humans. Scientific Reports. 2013;3(2195).
9.Ä Arsen macht Reis genotoxisch. 2013. Arsen in Reis - Was ist bei Säuglingen und Kleinkindern zu beachten. 2019.
11.Chowdhury R, Dutta A. et al. In vitro and in vivo reduction of sodium arsenite induced toxicity by aqueous garlic extract. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2008;46(2).
12.Blumenthal A., Stransky M. Ernährung und Lebensmittel von A-Z. Editions M, 1. Auflage 1993.
13.Chiplunkar PP, Pratap AP. Ultrasound assisted synthesis of hydroxylated soybean lecithin from crude soybean lecithin as an emulsifier. J Oleo Sci. 1. Oktober 2017;66(10):1101–8.
14.Inamasu S, Ikuyama R et al. The effect of rinse water obtained from the washing of rice (Yu-su-ru) as a hair treatment. International Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2010;32(5):392–3. Milchersatz-Getränke. Sojamilch: Mit Kalziumzusatz aus Algen.
16.Bio Suisse. Erläuterungen zu den Richtlinienänderungen Teil III 2018 (pdf).
17.Durchführungsverordnung (EU) 2019/2164 der Kommission vom 17. Dezember 2019 zur Änderung der Verordnung (EG) Nr. 889/2008.
18.Hunaefi D, Akumo DN, Riedel H, Smetanska I. The effect of lactobacillus plantarum atcc 8014 and lactobacillus acidophilus ncfm fermentation on antioxidant properties of selected in vitro sprout culture of orthosiphon aristatus (Java tea) as a model study. Antioxidants. Dezember 2012;1(1):4–32. EU-Höchstgehalte für anorganisches Arsen in Reis und Reisprodukten durch Verzehrsempfehlungen zum Schutz von Säuglingen, Kleinkindern und Kindern ergänzen. Aktualisierte Stellungnahme Nr. 017/2015 des BfR vom 06. Februar 2014. Fragen und Antworten zu Arsengehalten in Reis und Reisprodukten. Aktualisierte FAQ des BfR vom 22. Dezember 2020.