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Diet & Nutrition > The Foods We Eat > Rice

Rice is the world's most important grain and the staple food of almost half the world's population.

Widely grown throughout the tropical and some temperate regions of the world, there were once over 40,000 different varieties of rice available, however many varieties have become rare or even extinct due to the growth of mono-culture and standardized food production, and today we may only have a choice of 5 - 10 varieties depending on our locality.

After harvest, the seeds of the rice plant have the chaff removed to produce brown rice which is the most naturally nutritious. Further processing by removing the hull and the germ gives us white rice which is the most common form of rice seen in the marketplace. White rice is a starch providing calories and less nutrition than brown rice. White rice is further processed to create polished rice, parboiled or enriched rice or milled into flour which provides calories with little other nutritional value.

In general rice can be viewed in three main categories:

  1. Long Grain is long, slender and the most preferred in Western cultures for it its versatility to form the basis of almost any meal where rice is used to absorb some of the juice of other dishes.
  2. Medium Grain is shorter and plumper than long grain and more typically used where the rice and other foods are cooked together as in paella.
  3. Short Grain or Round Grain rice is used for making sushi, rice balls and other creative side dishes.
Cooking Rice

The simplest and most common method is boiling.
  • Add a volume of rice to 2x the volume of water, bring to the boil, stir to ensure no rice has stuck to the pan and then turn down the heat and simmer; white rice for 10-15 minutes, brown rice for 40-45 minutes. For best results use a heavy saucepan, salt to taste, add 2-3 drops of oil, ghee or butter to prevent the grains sticking. If using a heavy saucepan, white rice after it has boiled and been stirred, the heat can be turned very low or even off and the grain will cook gently. With brown rice after coming to the boil, stir, turn down the heat and simmer. Keep the lid on the saucepan while simmering to prevent the rice drying out.

  • The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook: 250 No-Fail Recipes for Pilafs, Risotto, Polenta, Chilis, Soups, Porridges, Puddings, and More, from Start to Finish in Your Rice Cooker Rice cookers - simplify rice cooking and get perfect rice every time. This appliance works and how to prepare every kind of rice, grain, and dried bean.
Storage

Rice is best stored in a cool place in a dry airtight container and used within 12 months of harvest. Unless treated by chemical or radiation, brown rice will begin to deteriorate within a year while white rice can be stored almost indefinitely in a cool, dry place.

Notes:
Instant rice is white rice that's been precooked and dehydrated making it convenient, but expensive and tasteless.
Add flavor to brown rice by roasting in a dry pan for a few minutes before boiling to add a deeper flavor but take care not to let the rice singe or burn.
The stored proteins in rice are sometimes called glutens, but their proteins differ from wheat gluten by lacking gliadin making rice to be considered gluten free for those on gluten free diets.

References
Risotto and Classic Rice Cooking
Harumi's Japanese Cooking
The UK Rice Association
The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook (from Amazon.com)

 



 

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