Food & Drink

Which rice? It all depends

Mr. Tidbit had to scratch his head about new Steamfresh rice, in the freezer case, from Birds Eye. Cooking it takes from 31/2 to 41/2 minutes in the microwave, compared with 11/2 minutes for Uncle Ben's Ready Rice, which is stored on the shelf instead of the freezer.

The Birds Eye bag contains rice and water. The Uncle Ben's pouch contains rice, water, canola and/or sunflower oil and vitamins and minerals.

The Uncle Ben's rice has 21/2 grams of fat per serving. The Birds Eye rice has no fat.

At first calculation, the Steamfresh rice looked more expensive: It was $1.69 for 10 ounces – what the label says are 2 (3/4-cup) servings ($1.13 per cup) – while the Uncle Ben's was $1.74 for 8.8 ounces, a reported 2 (1-cup) servings (87 cents per cup). But when Mr. Tidbit measured the cooked rice, there were 2 cups of Steamfresh (so it's 85 cents per cup) and only 11/2 cups of Uncle Ben's (so it's $1.16 per cup).

What's that about?

Your guess is as good as Mr. Tidbit's.

Al Sicherman reviews products for the Minneapolis Star Tribune.