Rice is the second most important crop in the world, following wheat. It is a semi-tropical grass that grows best in wet (humid) and warm areas of the world, like Vietnam, Thailand, and areas of China. It is grown in flooded fields called paddies, where most of the work is done by hand. Rice farmers in most areas of the world use primitive methods and tools to grow and harvest rice that have hardly changed in 5000 years: the hoe and a basic plough pulled either by water buffalo or peasants. The United States has mechanized rice growing. Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and Mississippi are the states that have the proper climate to grow rice. Rice is sprayed onto the fields rapidly by a crop duster airplane and is harvested just as quickly by combines. Thus, the U.S. can produce massive amounts of rice and is a major producer of rice throughout the world.
Types of Rice:
Regular white rice has been milled to get rid of the tough outer skin (the hull) and the protective skin around the grain (the bran). Most of the vitamins in rice are stored in the bran skin, so the white rice you buy in stores is enriched to add the lost vitamins and minerals back into it. Regular rice comes in three grain sizes: short, medium, and long. Short grains are softer and stickier after cooking. They are great for soups and puddings. Medium is also sticky after cooking. Long grain rice, though, is fluffy. The grains separate easily, making it an all-purpose rice.
Parboiled or converted rice is specially treated before it is milled. The special treatment enables the grain to keep almost all of its natural vitamin and mineral content. This rice takes longer than regular rice to cook.
Pre-cooked or quick rice ahs been partially cooked before being dried commercially. It only takes a few minutes to cook it before it is ready to eat.
Brown rice still has the brown bran layer around the rice grain only the outer hull has been removed. It has more nutrients, especially fiber, than regular white rice, but it also takes longer to cook.
Wild rice isn't really a rice at all. It is an oat that grows in marshy areas and along riverbanks of North America. Wild rice was a staple food in the diet of many Native American tribes, who couldn't grow maize. Wild rice takes longer to cook than any of the other rice types.
Cook's Note: Use the following chart and directions to help you cook rice.
Rice (1 cup, uncooked) Water Salt Simmering Time Yield
Regular White Rice 2 cups 1 teaspoon 14 minutes 3 cups
Brown Rice 2 ½ cups 1 teaspoon 30-40 minutes 3 cups
Wild Rice 2 ½ cups 1 teaspoon 40-50 minutes 3 cups
Parboiled Rice Follow package directions. 3-4 cups
Precooked Rice 2 cups
1. Combine the rice, salt, and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring often.
2. Cover the pan tightly with its lid reduce the heat to low and simmer the rice according to the time specified in the chart. Don't lift the lid during cooking as this will make the rice gummy.
3. Remove from the heat and use a fork to fluff the rice let stand for 5 minutes.