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Rice Types and Varieties

Updated on July 9, 2011
Different types of rice Photo: BlueRidgeKitties @flickr
Different types of rice Photo: BlueRidgeKitties @flickr

How I First Learned About Cooking With Rice

Rice is such a convenient food. It has been harvested for thousands of years. Rice is a staple in many cultures. It is a lifesaver for many impoverished countries. Most types of rice need lots of water to grow properly. However, wild rice doesn't need much water. Rice is a very quick growing grain. Four crops can be planted in a year.

When many people think of rice, they have images of the plain white rice that you pour sugar on that was served in many school cafeterias years ago. That is the only rice I knew until I became an adult.

After I joined the navy and met people from all over the United States and the world, I learned about delicious rice. There are literally tens of thousands of different varieties of rice available. And every rice grain is not created equally.

Each type of rice varies in texture, aroma, and taste. Certain types of rice are more suited for specific dishes than others. Read below to find out about the many different types of rice that can be used for cooking.

photo: ecstaticist @flickr
photo: ecstaticist @flickr

Rice Types by Grain Size and Texture

First are the different types of rice according to the size of the grains. There is short grain rice, medium grain, and long grain rice. Plus broken rice is in this category.

Rice is sorted by its texture as well. Some rice is very starchy. Others contain much less starch. Rice is also categorized by where it is grown and how it is processed. Each of these characteristics contributes to the many different tastes, textures, and uses of different rice varieties.

Versatility of Cooking With Rice

Rice is very versatile for cooking. It can be used in meat dishes, casseroles, soups, entrees, side dishes, and for dessert. Rice can be ground and used for flour or to make different types of noodles. Rice can also be used to make a milk substitute for those who are lactose intolerant. And it's gluten free for people who are sensitive to wheat products.

Broken Rice - Cheapest Type of Rice

Broken rice is probably the cheapest rice available. Broken rice is simply rice grains that are too small to make the mininum grain length standard. So, it is packaged separately and given an attractive, low price. It doesn't affect the taste at all.

Sticky Types of Rice - Short Grain

Next is short grain rice. It is sometimes called sushi rice. Pearl rice is included in this category. Short grain rice is stickier than other types of rice.  Like the name, it is used for making sushi. Pearl rice is usually chosen when making rice pudding.

Long Grain Rice

Long grain rice usually takes longer to cook than short grain rice. It is often more nutritious than short grain rice types. Long grain rice costs more than other types of rice. It contains less starch than short grain. This makes it more fluffy and tender.

Wild rice recipe photo: Indrani Soemardjan @flickr
Wild rice recipe photo: Indrani Soemardjan @flickr
Jasmine rice photo: Rooey202 @flickr
Jasmine rice photo: Rooey202 @flickr

Medium Grain Rice - One of the Most Common Rice Types

Medium grain rice is the type of rice that most people use every day. It is very versatile and works in many recipes. The starch content and texture are somewhere between short grain and long grain rice types.

Different Rice Varieties

Arborio rice originates from Italy. Arborio is the rice used to make the classic dish, risotto. It is has a nice, creamy texture. Use it when you want to make rice dishes that absorb the flavors of delicious sauces.

Basmati rice is categorized by the region where it's grown. It is grown in India and Pakistan. It is planted at the base of the Himalayan mountains. Basmati rice is grown in rich soil that is naturally fertilized by the water melting off the mountains. Basmati rice has an excellent aroma when it cooks.

Brown rice is very healthy. It contains more fiber and nutrients than other types of rice. It has a nice, nutty flavor. It takes longer to cook than other types of rice, but it's worth it. Also, add more water than cooking with other types of rice. Use about 1 1/2 - 2 cups of water to every cup of brown rice, depending on how fluffy you like it.

Jasmine rice is one of my favorite types of rice. It is also known as Siamese rice. It is a long grain rice. It is very fluffy and tender when cooked properly. It can be made as a side dish or used in stir fry dishes. Jasmine rice has a delicious aroma when it cooks. It smells like buttered popcorn to me.

Jasmine Rice - One of the Most Expensive Rice Types

How to Cook Rice Video

Rice Types and Varieties Comments

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    • profile image

      M A Mannan 6 years ago

      If i would take Wild rice recipe photo...............

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      I love rice and jasmine rice in particular. Thanks for all the interesting information about rice.

      Love and peace


    • askjanbrass profile image

      askjanbrass 7 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      I definitely agree with you on Jasmine rice. It's smells delicious while (and after) it is cooking. It's wonderful is Thai dishes and recipes. Great Hub, thanks for sharing this information.

    • World-Traveler profile image

      World-Traveler 7 years ago from USA

      Rice and beans are two of my favorite foods. When I lived and taught English in South Korea and Thailand I must have seen rice prepared one hundred different ways. I miss the orient. Thanks for the memories.

    • ocbill profile image

      ocbill 7 years ago from hopefully somewhere peaceful and nice

      I personally use the brown rice whenever possible.