What Is The History Of Rice?

Rice has a long history, what is it? Find everything you could possibly know about rice here!

Rice is a grain belonging to the grass family. The plant, which needs both warmth and moisture to grow, measures 2-6 feet tall and has long, flat, pointy leaves and stalk-bearing flowers which produce the grain known as rice. Rice is consumed by nearly one-half the entire world population and many countries, like Asia, are completely dependent on rice as a staple food.

Rice is one of the few foods in the world which is entirely non-allergenic and gluten-free.

HISTORY

There are many unproven mythological tales as to how rice came to be, though historians hold little or no stock in any. Most believe the roots of rice come from 3000 BC India, where natives discovered the plant growing in the wild and began to experiment with it. Cultivation and cooking methods are thought to have spread to the west rapidly and by medieval times, southern Europe saw the introduction of rice as a hearty grain.

The first cultivators of rice in America did so by accident after a storm damaged ship docked in the Charleston South Carolina harbor. The captain of the ship handed over a small bag of rice to a local planter as a gift, and by 1726, Charleston was exporting more than 4,000 tons of rice a year.

TODAY

Today, rice is grown and harvested on every continent except Antarctica, where conditions make its growth impossible. The majority of all rice produced comes from India, China, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, and Bangladesh. Asian farmers still account for 92-percent of the world's total rice production. More than 550 million tons of rice is produced annually around the globe. In the United States, farmers have been successfully harvesting rice for more than 300 years.There are thousands of strains of rice today, including those grown in the wild and those which are cultivated as a crop.

RICE HARVEST

The rice seeds we are able to buy are known as "rough" to rice farmers. At one time, the rough was enclosed by a hull or husk. During the process of milling, the hull and various bran layers of kernel are removed, and the rice is polished, giving the resulting seed a bright, white, shiny coating.

There are many different varieties, strains, and grains of rice, including:

ROUGH RICE

Also known as "paddy" rice, rough rice are kernels that have not been dehulled. Rough rice is sometimes shipped to mills, where the outer husk is removed before the grains are packaged.

WHITE RICE

White rice is by far the most common of all types, consumed in all countries of the world. White rice is dehulled, has all bran and germ layers removed, and is often enriched, giving it more nutritional value than it holds on its own.



AMERICAN WILD RICE

Wild rice is a coarse grass (and not really a true rice) considered a delicacy in many parts of the world. North American Indians are attributed with the introduction of wild rice into mainstream society. Grown in shallow waters, like marshes, man-made paddies, and stream beds in North America, the wild rice plant is 3-10 feet tall, holding the traditional rice flower at its peak. American wild rice is medium to long grained and has a nutty flavor.

BROWN RICE

Because the outer coating of brown rice contains added minerals and protein, brown rice is considered to hold greater food value than its white grain counterpart. Brown rice does not get milled, thereby keeping its darker color. Like white rice, brown rice has its husks removed during the cultivation process. Brown rice contains 8-percent protein and is a good source of thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, iron and calcium. Traditionally, brown rice is the least favorite of all the rices.

GRAIN VARIETIES

Many countries produce a variety of rice grain , including:

LONG: Long slender kernels which produce light, fluffy rice.

MEDIUM: Short, wide kernels which are moist and tender when cooked.

SHORT: Short, round kernels which are soft and cling together when boiled.

ARBORIO: Large tan grains with white dots in the center, similar in side to medium grain white rice. Arborio is most often used in risotto because of its creamy, chewy texture.

AROMATIC: Medium sized slender grains which often have the aroma and flavor of roasted nuts or popcorn.

WAXY: Also known as "sweet" rice, kernels are short and plump, and produce a thick, starchy product when cooked. Waxy rice is most often used as a binder for gravy, sauces or fillings.

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION

Rice remains a staple food for the majority of the world's population. More than two-thirds of the world rely on the nutritional benefits of rice. Rice is naturally fat, cholesterol and sodium free. It is a complex carbohydrate containing only 103 calories per one-half-cup serving.

TIPS AND TRICKS

ALWAYS measure rice and water and cook according to timed instructions for perfect, non-sticky rice.

COOK rice with a lid on to prevent steam from escaping.

RICE always triples in volume, so be sure to take this into account when choosing an appropriate cooking pot.

WHEN rice is done cooking, fluff with a fork to avoid sticky or hard rice kernels.

IF YOU like non-sticky rice, saute in a small amount of butter before cooking. Add liquid to saute pan and cook per instructions.

FACTS

SAKE is liquor made from rice.

RICE PAPER is not actually made from rice at all. It evolves from the pith of the rice paper tree grown in Asia.

RICE GLUE is still made in many countries by boiling ground rice.

CLOTHING, including shoes and hats, are made from rice straw in many rice-producing areas of the world.

WHITE rice can be kept indefinitely in a cool, dry area.

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