Leftover rice has so many uses, including the basis for quick, easy and practically free homemade rice glue. Use that rice glue to make paper tape for wrapping gifts and save money while eliminating single-use, landfill-bound plastic tape.
How to make rice glue with cooked rice
I needed to wrap up a few Christmas presents today. Usually, I make wheat paste to brush onto strips and scraps of paper for homemade paper tape. I love the stuff! I’ve even used it to ship parcels. It’s that strong! Then I realized I had leftover cooked white rice in the refrigerator. With cooked rice on hand, I quickly made rice glue for my paper tape. No food wasted!
For this post, I used white jasmine rice because that’s what I had eaten with my chana masala. Basmati would work. Ditto for short grain. Sticky sushi rice would work very well but that level of stickiness isn’t necessary. The finished product creates very strong, sticky glue.
With the rice already cooked, the bulk of the work is done
To make approximately 2 tablespoons of rice glue, blend together 2 tablespoons of cooked rice and 2 to 3 tablespoons of water in a blender. The amount of water you’ll need depends on how watery—or how dry—the rice is. If the mixture remains somewhat chunky after blending, add a bit more water. You want a very smooth consistency.
If you start with uncooked rice, add more water than usual for very wet and sticky rice—unless you’d like to eat some of the rice, in which case, add the amount water you normally would and when making rice glue with some of it, add water when blending (as explained above).
The ensuing runny mixture won’t be thick enough to glue paper together so reduce it a bit in a pot over low heat while stirring constantly. The glue in this post reduced to a thick paste in less than a minute. Keep an eye on it!
Next, make paper tape with the rice glue
Cut an appropriately sized piece of paper to wrap your gift and a few strips of paper for the tape. Brush glue onto the paper strips and while those sit and dry out slightly for a minute or so, fold the paper around the gift. Apply the tape to seal up the wrapping. The glue dries completely in a few minutes with a very strong bond and almost disappears into the paper. It looks so good! And costs basically nothing!
If the glue is too thick to brush onto the paper, thin it out with water. You’ll likely need to do this after storing the glue in the refrigerator, where it keeps for about a week. Because it does not freeze or store well for the long-term, make small amounts you will use quickly.
After my daughter opens her gift, I’ll compost the brown paper. Our hungry compost bins need all the brown matter they can get.
Is the glued paper recyclable? Well, probably. Paper covered with adhesives cannot be recycled. Paper containing small amounts of glue (usually) can be recycled and water soluble glue on paper does not gum up recycling equipment. (This rice glue is water soluble.) Contact your city’s waste management department to find out exactly what kinds of paper you can and cannot put in your recycling bin.
Metallic wrapping paper or paper with or glitter or laminate cannot be recycled. But that is another post.
My award-winning cookbook makes a great gift!
My book won silver for single-subject cookbooks at the Taste Canada awards! It also won a second-place Gourmand cookbook award in the category of food waste. And it was shortlisted for an award from the International Association of Culinary Professionals.