There are a whopping 40,000 varieties of rice
in the world. Our guide to rice isn't going to cover all 40,000 (and would you really read it if we
did?) but we'll give you an overview of the differences between the five major types of
rice: long-grain white rice, long-grain brown rice, basmati rice, arborio rice and wild
rice. What makes these types of rice
so different? A lot of it has to do with the size and shape of the grain, how much or how
little it's been processed, and the types and amounts of starch it
Long-Grain White Rice
the standard white rice you find in American cooking. Sometimes referred to as 'carolina
rice', this type is neutral in flavor and has a light, fluffy texture. In white rice, the husk and
germ of the grain are removed, and therefore it takes a little less time to cook than brown
Long-Grain Brown Rice
Any variety of rice can be 'brown' or 'white', but
long-grain brown rice is the common type found in stores. For brown rice, the grain is kept intact
or 'whole' with just the outer husk removed. The germ that's left on brown rice is a bran coating
that's high in fiber, vitamins and healthy oils, and gives the rice its tan color as well as a
nuttier taste and slightly chewy texture. It takes a bit longer to cook than white rice.
Basmati & Jasmine Rice
Basmati and jasmine rice are both distinct species of long-grain rice that are known for their
perfume-like aromas. Jasmine rice hails from Thailand, and has a characteristic nutty aroma. The
grains will cling to each other a bit, although it isn't as sticky as Thai 'sticky' rice. Basmati
rice comes from India and Pakistan, and is most noted for its unique and strong fragrance with a
mix of nutty and floral scents. Basmati rice is also remarkable for becoming longer with cooking
rather than plumping in width. It has a light, dry texture with very little stickiness.
Now that we've covered a few types of long-grain rice, let's talk about our favorite short-grain
rice: arborio rice from Italy. Compared to the super long-grain types like basmati, uncooked
Arborio looks positively squat and round since its grain is so short! The combination of its
short-grain, and its high amount of particularly sticky starches, arborio rice yields creamy,
clingy rice that's perfect for cooking risotto. Arborio rice can be cooked in a similar fashion to
typical rice, but to make as a risotto there is a special technique to unlock even more of that
starch: use broth instead of water, and ladle the liquid into the rice in batches as it cooks
versus all at once. And stir a LOT!
Wild rice differs from the other featured types of
rice in one crucial way: it's not actually rice! It's a separate variety of grass that is
'rice-like' enough that it's been given the name wild rice. Wild rice is remarkable for its dark,
black color and especially chewy texture, due its somewhat tough outer sheath. Wild rice is
frequently prepared mixed with other types of rice into a blend, adding that extra bit
of bite and texture to a more delicate rice variety.
What's your favorite way to cook with rice? Share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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