Did you know that over 40,000 unique varieties of rice are grown worldwide? Most of those varieties don’t meet the quality standards to be sold in the United States, but there is still a lot of variation among the ones that do. They can be categorized by length of the grain and the way that they are cooked. The good thing is, for the most part, they can be used interchangeably in your recipes!
Long Grain Rice – The grains are long and slender and will most often be separate and fluffy when they have finished cooking.
Medium Grain Rice – These rice kernels are shorter and wider than long grain rice and will cling together more easily.
Short Grain Rice – The rice is short, more of the bulk is in the center. They will cling together because they cook into very soft clumps.
Sweet Rice – Grains are short and plump, but it loses its shape easily which is why it is used as a binder for frozen commercial products.
Aromatic & Fragrant Rice – There are many different types of rice in this category. Some of these rice varieties have a taste and smell of popcorn when cooked. Others have a nutty flavor and have a more chewy texture. Basmati rice is another aromatic variety and is very fragrant when cooked. Black rice is another type of aromatic rice that is most often used for desserts. When cooked it is slightly chewy and has a spicy sweetness.
Brown rice is simply one of these rice varieties with the bran and germ remaining on the kernel. Brown rice also has a nutty flavor because it contains the bran and germ. It is much more nutritious than white rice varieties. It contains more fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
If you noticed, I haven’t mentioned wild rice yet. That’s because technically it’s not rice, but a grain. Wild rice is the seed of a grass that grows mainly in water. Wild rice has a dark brown to black grain, have a nutty flavor and are chewy even when cooked.
The best way to cook rice will vary based upon the variety that you are cooking. Long and medium grain rice should be started over high heat with a ratio of 1 cup of rice to 1 ½ cups of water. Cover and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to medium-low and then simmer until water is absorbed, between 12-14 minutes. Remove from heat, let rice rest for 5 minutes, uncover and fluff with a fork. Short grain and sweet rice will take less time. The best advice for cooking aromatic and fragrant rice will come from the package itself since they can vary widely based on the size and shape of the kernel.
Brown rice requires more water (about 2 cups) and needs to cook for about 45 minutes. Wild rice needs 3 cups of water to 1 cup of rice and also cooks for 45 minutes.
What is your favorite rice?