Rice has fed more people over a longer period of time than any other crop. Rice cultivation has been documented as far back as 2800 B.C. Beginning in China, its cultivation spread to Sri Lanka and India. It then passed on to Greece and areas around the Mediterranean. Rice then traveled to the New World from Europe. The history of rice in North America began with its colonization. Sir William Berkeley of Virginia first grew rice on a large scale in 1647. It was then successfully introduced into the Carolinas. By the time America gained its independence, rice was one of the country’s major agricultural enterprises. The Civil War destroyed most of the farms in the eastern United States. Rice production then moved westward. At the turn of the 20th century, rice was well established in what are today’s major Southern rice growing states – Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas. In these states, there is a special combination of climate and terrain necessary to produce the high quality rice for which the U.S. is known. In 1849, the discovery of gold in California brought people of all nations to this U.S. territory. To feed the many Chinese immigrants whose staple food was rice, California also started its own rice production. In Louisiana, rice was first introduced in 1718 by French explorers. It was not until the 1800s with the coming of the railroad and discoveries made by Dr. Seaman A. Knapp that rice production took off in the state. Settlers moved in, bought land, and put it into rice production. Technological advances in farm machinery and irrigation pumps made rice farming profitable. By the 1900s, Louisiana produced more than half the rice in the United States.
First, rice farmers prepare the soil for planting. Special equipment is used to shift the soil and level and smooth the field. Small levees maintain water on the flooded fields at a uniform depth. Fields are slightly sloped to allow the fields to be drained when needed. Either grain drills or airplanes plant rice in the early spring. Grain drills plant the rice seed directly into the soil at a constant rate and depth. Aerial seeding means planes drop seeds over flooded or dry fields. A good supply of fresh water is extremely important to rice farming. Rice land is covered with two to three inches of water during most of the growing season to inhibit weed growth. Depending on the variety, rice grows to maturity anywhere from 100 to 180 days after planting. Once the rice is fully mature, the water is drained from the field and combines harvest the rice. This “rough rice” is transported by truck to a rice dryer. Rice dryers are used to remove the moisture from the grain for storage. Once dry, the rice may be safely stored. When rice is harvested, it has a non-edible hull surrounding the kernel.
The rough rice that is harvested from the field is the main product. This rough rice undergoes a milling process to remove the hull. Once the hull is removed, the kernels may be processed into many forms. Brown rice has only the hull removed. It still has the bran layers on it. The bran layers are rich in minerals and vitamins. Parboiled rice is rice that has been soaked, steamed, and dried before milling. Consumers who desire fluffy, separately cooked rice favor parboiled rice. Pre-cooked rice is rice that has been cooked and dehydrated after milling. This reduces the cooking time. Regular-milled white rice has gone through the entire milling process. The hulls, bran layers, and germ have all been removed and the rice is sorted according to size.
We get many secondary products from rice. Rice hulls are used in the manufacture of many products such as soaps, face washes, hair products, and some synthetic materials. Rice oil is extracted from rice bran and is a high-quality, cholesterol-free cooking oil. Rice polish, which is produced in the final stages of the milling process, is in high demand as a livestock feed. Rice flour is milled rice that is ground into flour. This flour is used for baking. Brewers rice is the smallest size of broken rice fragments. It is used to make pet foods, and as a carbohydrate source in brewing. Rice bran is rich in protein and natural B vitamins. It is used as cattle feed and in the manufacture of vitamin concentrates. Some cultures even use parts of the plant to make decorative or ritual objects.
Rice is important for its nutritional value. It is the most popular grain globally and the primary dietary staple for more than half of the world’s population. It is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, an important part of the diet. Rice is also low in calories; a half-cup serving of cooked rice is only 82 calories. Rice only contains a trace amount of fat and is cholesterol and sodium free. It is also non-allergenic and gluten-free, making it an excellent choice for those on restrictive diets. This tiny but mighty grain supplies energy, complex carbohydrates, protein, fiber, beneficial antioxidants and more than 15 vitamins and minerals.
Hull: Each grain of rice is enclosed in a tough hull
Bran & Germ: High in vitamins, minerals, oil, and various phytonutrients proposed to have health benefits
Starchy endosperm: What remains after the bran and germ are removed—it is the white rice people enjoy throughout the world
· Packaging and Transport to point of sale
PREPARATION FOR CONSUMPTION
· Washing or rinsing before cooking
· Wet milling
Long grain: Long, slender kernel
Medium grain: Short, wide kernel
Short grain: Short, plump, and round kernelBrown: Outer hull is removed, but it still retains the nutrient-dense bran layers that give it a tan colorWhite: Outer husk and bran layers are removed
Jasmine: Long grain rice that has a distinctive aroma and flavor
TERM TO KNOW
Fermentation - A process where sugars are converted to ethyl alcohol
Levee - An embankment built to control water
Parboiling - Partially cook by boiling
Staple food - Food regularly consumed and a dominant portion of a standard diet
Starch - An odorless, tasteless white substance occurring in plant tissue and obtained chiefly from cereals and potatoes
Varieties - Different types usually defined by color, length, etc.
Wet milling - A process in which feed material is steeped in water, with or without sulfur dioxide, to soften the grain in order to help separate the various components
Red Beans and Rice
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
1 pound dried red beans
1 ham bone
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped green onion (tops and bottoms)
¼ cup chopped green pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup butter
2 bay leaves
½ pound cooked ham or sliced cooked sausage
Hot cooked rice
Wash and sort beans; cover beans with water and bring to a boil.
Let beans boil several minutes.
Remove from heat; cover and let soak overnight.
Heat bean mixture to boiling; add remaining ingredients, except ham and rice.
Cover and simmer 2 hours or until beans are tender.
Add more water during cooking, if necessary.
Add ham or sausage to beans, if desired.
Remove bay leaves before serving.
Serve over hot cooked rice.
Louisiana Farm Bureau Women Cookbook, Page 19
Submitted by Louisiana Farm Bureau Women’s Leadership Committee
Colored Rice Mosaic