A recipe two years in the making.

It was the year 2017; a plucky yet inexperienced Donald Trump had been sworn in as the President of the USA, the United Kingdom decided the EU was one union too many and initiated Brexit negotiations, and Kim Jong-un was feeling extra ornery, flinging missiles all around Japan like a knife thrower at the circus.

It was all enough to inspire our writer Meg Sawai to look into emergency food rationing techniques and as a result came across the ancient Japanese food once known as hoshi or kareii. These names literally translate into “dried rice” and were the precursors to modern instant rice.

Even better, during times when it was used by traveling poets, ninja, and samurai who knew nothing of refrigeration, it was purported to have a shelf-life of 20 years. Wanting to know if this was true firsthand, Meg set out to make and then store this curious foodstuff.

The recipe was all too easy. First, she cooked rice as one normally would.

Then, she washed the cooked rice to get all the sticky residue off of it.

Next, she spread it out onto a baking tray, popped it into an unpreheated oven, and let it bake at 100 to 110 degrees Celsius (212 to 230 degrees Fahrenheit) for an hour and a half.

While cooking, Meg decided to do a little light reading and thumbed through the legal code of Japan during the Asuka period (circa 7th century AD). Sure enough, it stated even way back then that while the legal storage periods for most grains ranged from two to nine years, hoshi was able to have been stored for up to two decades.

When the timer sounded, Meg pulled out the dried rice which looked about as expected.

As a trial, she rehydrated a small amount and found that it easily became a moist spoonful of rice once again after about 30 minutes.

The rest was put into baggies for twenty years of storage.

▼ November, 2017

Jumping ahead to the year 2020, Meg was at home watching the news. President Donald Trump defied impeachment and was seeking re-election, Brexit had just been finalized, and Kim Jong-un unleashed a fresh new wave of missiles. While it was mostly business as usual, the addition of a deadly global pandemic made her thoughts turn to that baggie of homemade instant rice in her cupboard.

Two years and four months was only about a tenth of the way to her goal of twenty-year storage, but it made for a nice checkpoint to see how the stuff was faring. She took a small amount from the bag and placed it in a bowl.

▼ March, 2020

Then she added some hot water…

…and let it sit for about half an hour.

Amazingly, even after all that time, the result looked just like a regular bowl of rice!

The taste wasn’t quite on par with freshly cooked rice of course, but it wasn’t bad either.

It could be used just like regular rice too, cooked into a risotto or soup or just lightly seasoned and served.

Meg even waited an extra hour to see if it had any adverse reaction like drying up, melting down, or growing arms and legs…

…But nothing happened. It stayed just as white and fluffy.

So now, we have successfully confirmed that hoshi lasts a solid two years. Even if it doesn’t go the full 20, two years and change for such an easy-to-make-store-and-prepare natural food is still pretty remarkable.

We’ll keep you posted in future years to see how well this traditional food continues to hold up right to the end, which will be about the same time as our feature on the pole dancing 63-year-old, Mr. Sato.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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