Deciphering the Rice Grain
A Rice Grain
Rice can be grown almost anywhere.
Rice has been grown in China and Southeast Asia since about 10,000 BC. Worldwide, the production of rice is second only to corn; however, a large portion of corn production is not for human consumption. This makes rice the most important grain in regards to human nutritional intake. Rice provides more than one fifth of the world’s caloric intake.
Most of the world’s population depends on rice as their staple food. There are approximately 40,000 different varieties of rice which are typically categorized by grain size. However, rice can also be categorized by color, flavor or any processing it has undergone.
Rough rice, or paddy rice, is rice that has not been milled. Before the rice can be packaged or cooked, it needs to have the outer hull or husk removed. This hull is removed by milling it with a rice huller. Once the chaff, or outer husk, is removed it is called brown rice. Brown rice has a slightly chewy texture and a mild nutty flavor. Because brown rice has had minimal processing, it is the most nutritious.
Brown rice can be milled further, removing the bran and germ. The resulting product is called white rice. Removing the bran and germ also removes much of the nutritional value of the rice. To compensate for this loss, white rice is often enriched with iron, niacin and thiamine. Because the germ has been removed, white rice has a much longer shelf life than brown rice. White rice can be further subdivided into long grain rice, medium grain rice, and short grain rice.
Long grain rice is the most common type of rice and tends to remain intact after cooking, while medium grain tends to be slightly sticky. Long grain and medium grain rice are often interchangeable depending on preference. Short grain rice contains more starch and tends to become very sticky when cooked.
Parboiled rice is pressure steamed prior to milling. The steaming process causes the vitamins and minerals in the outer coats to migrate toward the center of the kernel. This process makes the rice extra fluffy without sacrificing any of its nutrients. It also ensures a firmer and more separate grain.
Precooked (quick cooking) rice is rice that has been cooked after the milling process. The precooking can be done to either brown or white rice. The cooking time for precooked rice is greatly reduced, taking only minutes, because it only needs to be rehydrated.
Wild rice, contrary to its name, is not actually a member of the rice family. It’s the grain gathered from an aquatic grass native to North America.
Rice is a good source of protein, but it is not a complete protein; it does not contain sufficient amounts of all the essential amino acids and should be combined with other sources of protein, such as nuts, seeds, beans, fish, or meat.
Some interesting facts about rice:
- Rice is grown on every continent except Antarctica.
- One seed of rice yields more than 3,000 grains.
- 50% of the world's rice is eaten within 8 miles of where it is grown.
- In several Asian languages the words for “food” and “rice” are identical.
- Rice is a symbol of life and fertility, which is why it was a tradition to throw it at weddings, confetti has now replaced rice.
- There are over 29,000 grains of rice in one pound of long grain rice.
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Feed the Poor with Free Rice
If you’re interested in helping feed the poor, here’s a fun game I think you’ll enjoy.
♦ How to Play:
· Click on the right answer in the middle of the page.
· If you get it right, you get a harder question. If you get it wrong, you get an easier question.
· For each answer you get right, FreeRice will donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program
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