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10 Facts About Rice

September 25, 2014

RiceFieldWikimediaCommonsMany people eat rice but give little thought how it got to their pantry. Rice is often seen as a cheap ingredient that is brown or white and is a mainstay of some ethnic dishes. This not only sells rice short but means that you are missing much when it comes to making the most of this versatile food!

Let’s take another look at rice for 10 things you may not know about it. Rice is the most important food in the world for volume and the second most widely grown cereal, surpassed only by wheat.

1.In Asia rice is in some ways another word for food. It is a widespread food that is important to culture as a food item for the volume of people the country needs to feed.

2.There are two basic types of rice. The Japonica rice is a temperate climate rice that has hard grains that are sticky and moist when cooked. This is the most commonly used rice in Japanese cooking. Indica rice is a hot weather rice with long grains that break easily. This rice is fluffy and doesn’t stick together when cooked, most common in India as well as Tai and Chinese rice dishes.

3.Both types of rice have glutinous and non-glutinous varieties with individual characteristics. Non-glutinous is a general cooking rice that is somewhat transparent and less sticky, usually served as just rice. Glutinous rice is sticky which is used to make rice cakes, desserts and other snacks.

4.Rice is for much of the world a local food product with half of the world production consumed within ten miles of where it is grown, largely in Asia where there is a per capita consumption as high as 500 pounds per year. Thailand exports 5 million tons per year, the USA 3 million tons and Vietnam 2 million tons, making the top 3 shippers of rice worldwide

5.Beans and rice is a popular dish to add protein along with the health benefits of rice which is no cholesterol low fat and 160 calories per cooked cup. Rice takes on flavors very well, making it ideal for a variety of dishes.

6.Rice is best cooked at the time of serving but can be refrigerated for up to five days. Leftover rice is good in stir fry or can be rehydrated with a little water. It is also easily used for homemade chicken and rice or turkey and rice soup, in stews or even added to chili for a more filling meal.

7.White rice is 98% digestible due to removing the husk and bran, with less vitamins than brown rice which has more vitamins but is less digestible. In the US over a dozen varieties of rice are now available. Brown rice takes longer to cook and has a shorter shelf life although it can be packaged and frozen. Brown rice can take 40 minutes to cook while the white rice takes about 15. Both are a nutritious part of the diet.

8.Not just the grains are used. Rice sticks are twisted into fuel, fodder for animals, braided for rope, making paper and crafts as well as bricks and ‘rice dragon’ that is provided for silk worms to build cocoons. Hulls are used for packing items for shipment and bran is rendered for oil used in soap, cosmetics and health foods.

9.Wild rice isn’t a true rice but rather a grain from a North American grass.

10.In the US long grain rice has a grain that is 3-4 times longer than the width, and when cooked do not clump together. This is the rice often used in southern cooking. The medium and short grains stick together and are better for risotto, puddings, sushi and Asian dishes. Most rice eaten in the US is grown here by farmers in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Texas, Missouri and Mississippi lead the production of 19 billion pounds per year, 85% of the US production.

Rice is a tasty, versatile grain for many uses that also stretches the budget. It’s a healthy way to cut the food budget.

This is an excerpt from A Look at Agriculture, an e-book that helps our small farm cover expenses. At $3 each, we’d appreciate referrals if you know someone interested in knowing more about their food.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2014 9:42 AM

    I love rice, and often have it with my chili. I didn’t realize we grow rice in America. Thanks for this information. Where does Jasmine and Basmati rice fit in with the types of rice?

    • September 29, 2014 10:32 AM

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Jasmine rice is traditionally from other parts of the world, as is basmati (India and Pakistan).

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