On March 1, sans grandchild (she was in school), I started the third month’s experiment with rice, water, gratitude and kindness. She and I had discussed what we wanted to do differently this month. Here’s what happened.
First, we made a few changes in procedure
This month, we changed the procedure from what we had done in January. (If you’re new to this series, see box below this section for its origins and why we’re doing it.)
- Sterilize the jars and lids. In January, I used clean, unsterilized jars and lids. On March 1, I sterilized all three jars and the three flat canning lids I used to protect the contents from contamination (or so I thought–more on that later).
- Change rice and water ratios. In January, we used twice as much rice as in March and considerably less water. That caused problems, so we adjusted the ratio in March, as you’ll see below.
- Keep the January “love jar.” In addition to the three new jars in March, I included the love jar from the January and February experiments. At the beginning of March, the rice and water in that jar still appeared clean and smelled of fermentation, not of rot.
- Treat the four jars exactly the same. In January, we had three jars. To one, I spoke loving gratitude. To the next, “You idiot!” The last jar, I ignored completely. In March, I would treat the four jars exactly the same, greeting them with loving gratitude, one after the other.
That’s it. Each day, save two when I was busy enough to forget completely, I folded my hands, Namaste style, and bowed to the rice, greeting each one with that centering word. This helped me stop, take a deep breath and focus. Then I addressed each jar, one by one, with the same gratitude and healing thoughts. My granddaughter checked in on the rice when she visited. Neither she nor her sister cared for the odor. Both have younger noses than mine, apparently.
Questions on our minds
At the beginning of the experiment, we were keen to learn what would happen to the jars this time. Would their contents ferment as did the rice and water in the January “love jar”? Would the rice in that jar finally rot? Or would it stay relatively clean? Would the rice and water in the others react with marked differences, or very little at all?
Why so much water this time?
As you can see in the photo first above, and again here, the jars have a good deal more water than rice this month. That’s a lot of water!
You may recall that in January, I measured (in grams, identical quantities for each jar) about half a cup of rice and enough water to cover the rice with half an inch to spare. Within a few days, the rice absorbed all the water, expanding and filling the jars two-thirds full. To keep as close to Dr. Masaru Emoto’s experiment as possible, I carefully measured, again in grams, enough water to bring the water level about half an inch above the rice line.
This month, I planned for the absorption. To each jar I added exactly 62 grams of rice (about 1/4 cup, or half what I used in January) and 262 grams of filtered water, which brought the water level to about the same height as in the January jars. Big surprise! As far as I could tell, the rice didn’t absorb a drop, not the first day, not the second or the fifth, or perhaps at all. Why?
The only sure difference between the rice and water in the January and March experiments is that on January 1, I opened the bag of rice for the first time. Before storing in a cool, dry spot in the pantry, I pressed out the air and rolled the top down, securing it with a clip. Could that relatively small exposure to air and light in January have changed its absorptive qualities so drastically? Did enough seep in despite my efforts to seal it shut?
Seems far-fetched, doesn’t it? The only other variable I can think of is temperature, which may have varied in our kitchen and on the back porch by several degrees throughout the experiments.
Btw, here’s the rice I’m using in these experiments. Typically, I buy organic, long grain brown rice in bulk, avoiding one-use plastic bags, but I wanted to cut as many variables as possible, so opted for this single source bag.
What happened to the rice during March?
In the first photo on this page, you see the four jars of rice as they appeared on March 4. Here you see the jars, including the January “love jar,” on March 17, and again on March 31, revealing significant change in the three new jars between the first and middle of the month, less in the latter half of the month.
As you can see, from March fourth to the seventeenth, the rice appeared not to have absorbed any water at all, although it did change. The water in the new jars was rather cloudy and had a scum of bubbles and froth on top. The January love jar seemed not to have changed.
By the thirty-first, the jars showed very little additional change, except for the last jar on the right. There, the rice appears to be breaking down more rapidly than in any of the other jars. The bottom half-inch looks more like rice pudding than individual grains of rice.
What about spoilage and odor?
At mid-month, when I opened the jars to take photos of the surface of the rice and water, the odor was unpleasant, almost overwhelming. While the original “love jar” had changed very little, and in fact still smelled the sweetest of the four jars, the other three smelled a little spoiled.
Fly in the soup, er, rice
You can’t see it in these photos but early in the month we collected a fruit fly in the last jar, at the bottom. Apparently my flat canning jar lids don’t sit tight enough to prevent a tiny hungry fly from wiggling its way inside. Rather than risk adding more contaminants during removal, we decided to leave the fly. Could that have anything to do with the rice at the bottom of the jar turning to mush while the others did not?
What does the top scum look like?
By the end of the month, the January love jar had slightly fewer waxy islands than it had at the beginning of the month. The other three jars all had a layer of scum and bubbles. Here you see them, as they appeared, all together, on March 31. The odor emanating from them was not as strong as it had been on the seventeenth, and smelled more of fermentation than of rot.
Here’s a close-up look at the jars, compared to how they looked at the beginning of the month. We’ll start with the three-month-old love jar. On the left, you see it as it appeared on February 27. The lighting is different on March 31 (right image), but otherwise little has changed. (Click on the photos to see larger images.)
Here are the three new “love” jars, as they appeared all together on March 4, immediately after adding first the rice, then the filtered water.
And here is the surface of each jar as they appeared on March 31. (Click to zoom.)
Jar #1 has a yellow-orange scum forming, along with some gassy bubbles, chained together with a thready substance. Jar #2 has more of the yellow scum and what appears to be either a cluster of quite fine bubbles or a white moldy mass growing in the center. The last jar, #3, with its decaying fruit fly, is mostly gassy bubbles, with small amounts of scum on the top.
Summary: Different outcomes
How did the rice and water behave differently in March than in January? Though not as dramatic as the differences between the love, idiot and ignored jars in the first experiment, we noticed several distinct differences at the end of the month between the two experiments.
January – The rice bulked up and absorbed all the water within a couple of days, so I had to add more.
March – The rice absorbed no water.
Water opaqueness on Day 1
January – On adding to the rice, the water in the jars was clear and clean.
March – On adding to the rice, the water immediately turned somewhat cloudy.
January – The water and rice in the love jar remained mostly clear. The water and rice in the “idiot jar” and the ignored jar changed to a dirty brown; molds grew on top of the jars.
March – The love jar changed very little in appearance, still mostly clear, about the color of a light beer, and with apparently untainted rice. The water in the three new love jars turned a somewhat milky yellow and developed a bubbly yellow-orange scum on top. The middle jar grew noticeably more of the yellow-orange scum, covering nearly the entire surface, as well as a foamy cluster of fine bubbles, or perhaps a white mold in the center of the surface. The third jar developed less yellow-orange scum than the first two jars and more large bubbles; a good portion of the rice broke down in this jar as well, appearing, through the glass, to have a mushy or pudding-textured consistency.
January – The water and rice in the January love jar smelled slightly sweet and vinegary, The water and rice in the “idiot jar” and the ignored jar turned putrid, sickeningly so.
March – The January love jar still smelled faintly sweet and vinegary, more like fermentation than rot. The three new love jars grew more fetid during the first half of the month. That odor remained unpleasant, though less so, by the end of the month, and smelled more of fermentation than rot, though without the sweet notes of the January jar.
One more variable to consider
There’s one more variable that may have had an impact on the experiment: My state of mind.
In January, the thought that the experiment was working for us just as it had for Dr. Emoto gave me great hope that love might indeed be a way to solve the world’s terrible problems, a hope I desperately needed. Since November 8, as so many have done, I’ve fought a terrible sense of despair, accompanied by bouts of depression. Thank goodness I have long-practiced tools to deal with depression. It slows me down tremendously, though, and I feel the change in my body as well as my heart. Throughout January, this experiment, with its amazing results, renewed hope, put the bounce back in my walk and joy in my heart, on some days at least.
During February, that hope waned a bit, as I saw that sending love and healing to the fetid jars did not change their status. While the mold and rot seemed to arrest, it did not disappear. The fact it arrested kept me going.
March, however, brought ever more bad news. Our president seems to have no understanding whatsoever of the guarantees our Constitution gives its citizens, nor does he seem to give a fig for truth or facts. He has done and said things that appall and frighten me to my core. I fear he and his party will destroy everything good that our country and the world have tried to build since World War II, when another hateful man rose to power and nearly destroyed humankind. Throughout March, I struggled ever more with depression and with fear for the world I am leaving to my children and grandchildren.
Approaching the rice each day, I felt that dread and horror. With a broken heart, struggling to find hope, I bowed to the rice, speaking the words of gratitude and healing, realizing I spoke them as much for myself and for all the world as for these organic and liquid substances sitting in jars on my back porch.
Could that despair, ever lurking even as I briefly greeted the rice and water, have caused the jars to turn more sour than the January love jar?
The good news: While the rice and water this month did not stay as pure as the love jar during January, it did not go entirely rank and rotten either. This gives me a little hope that loving gratitude can indeed change our lives, and perhaps our world. I press on.
Coming up: A new twist on this experiment
For April, I’m discarding these three jars of rice and water, but keeping the original January “love jar.” This time, I’ll repeat the January experiment, to see if we can replicate it, and also to see what happens to the original “love jar” in comparison to the new one. As always, your thoughts matter. Do share them, won’t you?