Almost half of the earth’s human population depends on rice for their sustenance and very existence. It is so inherently a part of many of the world’s cultures that it is intricately weaved into their myths, religions, rituals, and other societal activities and occasions.
As a dietary mainstay, it can enhance the nutritional value of a wholesome diet. Nutrition from rice can vary depending upon its source. As a rich, complex carbohydrate, rice is practically fat and cholesterol free.
Rice appeals to health advocates because it is a great source of protein amino acids, as well as vitamins and minerals. Because it is gluten free, it is an ideal alternative for those with an intolerance or allergy to wheat. Grains are easy to digest, and makes an excellent first solid food for very young children.
- Choosing a rice to buy
- What to do with rice
- To rinse or not rinse
- Nutritional benefits of rice
- How to cook white rice
- How to cook brown rice
- How to cook rice on a stove top
- How to cook rice in the oven
- How to cook rice in a rice cooker
- How to make fried rice – video
- How to make rice – video
- Common cooking rice mistakes
- Storing cooked and uncooked rice
- Frequency of eating rice
- The future
- Rice is a cereal grain that is starchy, and safe for humans to eat.
- It grows, and is gathered as a crop once a year.
- Farming requires a lot of vigorous labor, and a great deal of water.
- Small grains plants grown from seeds are planted by hand in rice fields. The fields are then filled with water. The water from the paddies provide nutrients to the rice seedlings.
- It is a member of the grass family (Gramineae).
- It is a main source of food for more than half the population of the entire world.
- Worldwide, it has an annual crop yield of nearly 535 million tons.
- Of the fifty countries that are rice producers, China and India carry about 50% of the total production.
- Individually, Southeast Asian countries produce 9 to 23 million metric tons of rice per year. They do very little exporting.
- Asia uses more than 300 million acres of their land to grow rice.
Choosing a grain to buy
There are different varieties of grains available on today’s market. Before purchasing grains, learn about the different types of rice to select from. Do not be afraid to experiment!
A grain is made up of:
- A shell or husk that encloses the grain
- A nutritious layer of bran
- A starchy center
Not all varieties of grains have the same starch mixture. Once the rice is cooked, its texture is influenced by the particular variety of starch mixture. Brown rice is harvested differently than white rice. The bran layer of brown rice is kept, but not the white. It is cleansed from white grains.
The range of grain sizes is:
- Short or round
Sometimes grain sizes are referenced according to the region of their original origin. For instance:
- Indica is a long grain that comes from India
- Javanica is a medium grain that only grows in Indonesia
- Japonica, a short-grain, comes from Japan
Long Grain Rice – The most familiar size rice provided and consumed in the United States. When cooked, long grain has a fluffy texture because the grains stay apart from each other. For beginners creating many types of rice recipes, long grain is a good foundation to start from.
Medium Grain – The texture of medium grain is less fluffy than long grain, but it is not as gummy as the short grain.
Short Grain – Because it is very easy for the grains of the short grain to stick together, it becomes sticky or gummy when cooked. It is the preferred rice used in traditional Japanese and Korean sushi recipes.
What to do with grains
Rich can be used to make endless lunch and dinner choices, as well as delicious breakfast bowl recipes. Grain is not difficult to make, and can complement a variety of foods. Although the novelty of a rice cooker can come in handy, all that is needed is a simple cooking pot and stove. It can be used to make easy side dishes as a foundation for fantastic sauces with or without meats, fried rice and soups, or it can be mixed directly into a main dish.
To rinse or not rinse
To gain protection from insects, mites, and garden pests, some grains are kept in diatomaceous earth (DE). DE is a natural mineral compound formed from fossilized little diatoms that lived in ancient oceans and other bodies of water. When they died, they settled to the bottom of the waters, and formed sedimentary layers of soft chalky rock that easily crumbles into a soft white or off-white powder.
Although DE graded foods can be eaten, the taste can be diminished. In order to cook correctly and taste enjoyable, some grains need the coatings they have on them rinsed off. Also, before grains reach households, they may have been handled by numerous unknown hands. Rinsing grains removes unwanted debris, disagreeable residue, and helps to reduce unsavory bacteria and pesticides from the grains.
Brown grain has a hull and usually has a lesser chalky residue than white grains, but it should still be rinsed at least once before it is cooked to eliminate debris. Unlike brown rice, white rice does not have the protective hull. The rice flour from the powdery residue will make a thick paste when the white grain is cooked unless the rice is rinsed beforehand.
There are over forty thousand types of grains varieties. Different varieties of grains are selected for their specific flavors, particular cooking requirements, accessibility, as well as for their nutritional health benefits.
- Energy: It has a rich supply of carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals that perform as a source of fuel to assist in the normal functioning of the body systems and brain. Carbohydrates are a crucial source of fuel needed by the body to metabolize and convert into energy.
- Non-Cholesterol: It provides nutrients, without the addition of any fats or cholesterol, and is sodium free. Lower levels of these elements aids in decreasing obesity and other negative health impacts connected with overweight problems.
- Lower High Blood Pressure: Because it is low in sodium, it can prevent and decrease high blood pressure or hypertension. Sodium can tighten veins and arteries, causing stress and strain on the heart and lungs. These conditions are tied to heart problems and strokes. Eating rice is nutritionally beneficial and healthy in efforts to avoid excess sodium.
- Guard Against Cancer: Many scientists and researchers advocate that the abundance of insoluble fiber in whole grain, such as brown rice, is essential to protect the body from developing and preventing the harmful growth of cancerous cells. Fiber is particularly beneficial in guarding against cancer of the colon and intestines. In addition to fiber, it is composed of natural antioxidants such as vitamins C and A. The phenolic and flavonoid compounds in grain help to rid the body of the byproducts created by cellular metabolism. These byproducts, called free-radicals, can seriously cause damage to organ systems and cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous cells. Eating more rice is an excellent way to boost antioxidant levels.
- Healthy Skin: According to medical experts, applying powdered grain onto the skin can cure particular skin disorders. It can be a potent ointment to cool the surfaces of swollen skin as in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. The anti-inflammatory elements of grains are beneficial for reducing the pain, discomfort, and redness of irritated skin. Regardless of whether eaten or applied directly, it can lessen the severity of numerous skin ailments. The antioxidants in rice help to slow down the appearance of premature skin aging and wrinkles.
- Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease: Numerous species of wild rice have exhibited nutrients that caused the stimulation and growth activity of nerves that transfer impulses throughout the body’s nervous or Neuro systems. These neurotransmitters were activated by protective nerve chemicals or enzymes in the brain. The enzymes prevent the consequences of free-radicals and other harmful poisons that can be the source of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Other Nutritional Health Benefits of Grains Include:
- Regular and better bowel movements
- Steady levels of blood sugar
- Improved digestion
- Enhanced immune system
Research is being done to increase the nutritional and health values of rice by integrating traditional crop growing methods with bio-technology; and by adding higher levels of iron and zinc to grains.
White – The exterior husk, the layer of bran, and the starchy center is removed from white rice during the milling process. It may have less nutrients, but the advantage it has over brown rice is its capacity to be longer, and its ability to cook faster.
Brown – With only the removal of its outer husk, brown rice is less processed than white rice. Like white rice, they both come in sizes long, medium, and short grains.
Black – When cooked, black rice turns purple. It is rich in fiber, vitamins, iron, and antioxidants.
Aromatic – Favored examples of aromatic rice are: Basmati from India, Jasmine from Thailand, Texmati from Texas, and from Louisiana, Wehani and Pecan wild rice. These are grain that have a distinguishing perfumed aroma when cooked.
Arborio – Mostly well known for making risotto, Arborio rice is a white rice that is medium to short in size, and is starchy. When making risotto, continuous stirring prompts the rice to release its starch and increase in thickness. Carnaroli, Vialone Navo, and Baldo are other similar rice used to make risotto.
Sticky – Sushi and other Asian specialty dishes usually use this short grain.
Wild – Frequently found in multi-grain rice combinations and pilaf mixes, wild rice is not an actual rice, but rather a grass plant seed. It is favored for its nutty flavor and chewiness.
Instant – This is a rice is quick, and is first cooked, and then dehydrated before it is packaged. It does not have the texture, and is not as flavorful as regular grain.
Sweet Brown Rice – a high quality short grain variation of brown rice. Its texture is moist and sticky, and it has a naturally sweet flavor. It makes a great dessert dish like rice pudding.
Wehani – an aromatic brown rice evolved in the latter part of the 20th century by the Lundberg Family Farms in California. As part of a family company, its name represents the five Lundberg brothers: Wendell, Eldon, Homer, Albert, and Harlan.
Himalayan Red Rice – Its color has been described as having a deep rose or russet shade. It is cultivated in South Central Asia, and in some areas of France. The fiber content of red rice is greater than white grains. It is more flavorful than brown or white grains, and is described as being nutty, earthy, and very aromatic.
Other variations of grains include:
- Brown Rice
- Basmati Rice
- Colusari Red
- Purple Thai
- Chinese Black
- Jasmine Rice
How to cook rice on a stove top – recipes
– Long grain brown or white grains (one cup);
– Salt (one half teaspoon);
- The grains should be rinsed and drained thoroughly.
- Use a medium saucepan to boil one and one half cups of water
Stir in the salt and cup of grains. With the heat at medium high, return the water to boil.
- Lower the heat to reduce the boiling water to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 20 to
25 minutes for white rice, or 45 minutes for brown grains. All of the liquid should be absorbed
and the rice tender. When the grains are ready, it should show steam holes on its surface.
- Take away the rice from the heat, keep covered, allow to steam for 10 minutes. Serve
after fluffing with a fork.
How to cook rice in the oven – recipes
– A tablespoon of butter or olive oil
– One half cup of chopped onion
– One cup of long grain white rice
– Two cups of chicken or vegetable stock
– Preferred salt amount
– Preferred amount of black pepper
- Oven should be preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- On the stove top, over medium heat, use a medium sized stovetop-to-oven-pan to
Melt the butter or oil.
- Add the chopped onions, cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir until the onions are softened.
- Add the grains.
- Add the stock, salt, and pepper. Make sure the rice is well coated. Bring to a boil.
- Cover and bake in the oven about 20 to 25 minutes, until all of the stock is absorbed.
- The cooked rice should be tender.
- Remove the grains from the oven, keep covered, and let stand for about 10 minutes.
- It is ready to serve.
How to cook rice in a rice cooker – recipes
To cook rice in a rice cooker, use the ratio of 1 cup of rice to 1 1/2 cups of water. The rice cooker will provide various ratios for different types of grains. For salt, use the ratio of 1/4 teaspoon per cup of grains that is uncooked. To cook 2 cups of dry rice at once, use 3 cups of water (according to the ratio above). Add the 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the cooker, and press the button marked, “cooked”. When the it is ready, the rice cooker will beep. The grains will remain warm in the rice cooker for hours.
How to make fried rice – video
How to make rice – video
- Adding Flavor: Experiment cooking rice in a variety of liquids such as:
- Fruit juice
- Vegetable juice
- Coconut milk
- Do Not Look: After cooking covered rice for fifteen to twenty minutes, uncovering the rice to sneak a peek will allow the steam to escape, and increase the rice cooking time. This creates the risk of overcooking.
- When Eating Later: Use a fork and fluff the grains. Afterwards, put a kitchen towel over the pot of rice before covering it with a lid. The towel will catch the steam from the lid as the moisture turns to droplets. This will prevent the rice from becoming gooey.
- For Easy Reheating: For each cup of grains, use two tablespoons of water to sprinkle the rice.
Common cooking rice mistakes
- Going by package directions: Usually, the directions on rice packages are incorrect. When enough water is not added, it will cause the rice to be undercooked. Also, the grains will probably burn on the bottom before it finishes steaming gently. Too much water, and the grains will be saturated, gooey, and overcooked.
- Cooking brown rice the same as white grains: Brown rice needs to be cooked with 1/4 to 1/2 more cups of water than white rice.
- Neglecting to steam: After the rice is finished cooking, keep it covered and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then remove the covering, and use a fork to fluff it.
- Never Stir! If you are not making creamy risotto, do not stir the rice. Stirring causes the grains starch to activate and make the rice gooey.
- Forgetting to salt: To avoid winding up with a bland rice, you have to treat it like pasta. Salt the water. Use one half to a teaspoon of salt for each cup of grains.
- Cooking temperature too high: First, bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat to reduce the water from boiling. If the water is allowed to continue boiling too high, it will evaporate, the rice will cook too fast, and it will undercook. When the temperature of the water heat is low, the grains kernels will stay whole.
Storing cooked and uncooked grains
Uncooked: Most variations of uncooked grains have an indefinite shelf life. Brown rice is the exception due to its greater content of oil. In a pantry, brown rice can last 3 to 6 months. In the refrigerator, from 6 to 12 months, and in the freezer, up to 12 to 18 months. To get the maximum shelf life, rice should be stored in a cool dry place after the package is opened. Place the grains in an air-tight container or heavy duty freezer bag.
Cooked Rice: All variations of grains can be stored in the refrigerator from 4 to 6 days, and in the freezer for 6 months.
Frequency of eating
Some expert nutritionists suggest that it is okay to eat rice every day depending on individual weight, and goals regarding weight loss. Those on a weight loss diet are allowed grains twice a week. The lack of fiber in white rice can be made up for by adding a salad. Others, who are desiring to gain weight, can eat it every day, and include potatoes or sweet potatoes.
With one third of the earth’s population dependent on rice as the primary food in their diet, and the ever increasing prospect of 80 to 100 million new people to be added every year, and needing to be fed, production is crucially important to the human population worldwide.
Farmers and scientists face the challenging task of increasing rice crop yield while lessening adverse environmental effects. International organizations are researching methods that will sooner or later move toward increased productive variations of grains, and yield crops that are less susceptible to disease, and more resistant to pests.