Rice and Nutrition
The seeds of the rice plant are first milled using a rice huller to remove the chaff (the outer husks of the grain). At this point in the process, the product is called brown rice. The milling may be continued, removing the 'bran', i.e., the rest of the husk and the germ, thereby creating white rice. White rice, which keeps longer, lacks some important nutrients; in a limited diet which does not supplement the rice, brown rice helps to prevent the deficiency disease beri-beri. If white rice is a staple of your diet it is advised to supplement it with nuts, seeds, beans, fish or meat to make it a complete protien with a full range of amino acids.
White rice may be also buffed with glucose or talc powder (talc powder polished rice is banned in the U.S.), parboiled, or processed into flour. White rice may also be enriched by adding nutrients, especially those lost during the milling process. While the cheapest method of enriching involves adding a powdered blend of nutrients that will easily wash off (in the United States, rice which has been so treated requires a label warning against rinsing), more sophisticated methods apply nutrients directly to the grain, coating the grain with a water insoluble substance which is resistant to washing.
An alternative to storing white rice is storing parboiled rice. Parboiled rice is rice that has been boiled in the husk. Parboiling rice drives nutrients, especially thiamine, from the bran into the grain, so that parboiled white rice is 80% nutritionally similar to brown rice. Because of this, parboiling was adopted by North American rice growers in the early 20th century.
The starches in parboiled rice become gelatinized, making it harder and glassier than other rice. Parboiled rice takes less time to cook, and the cooked rice is firmer and less sticky. In North America, parboiled rice is generally partially or fully precooked by the processor. "Minute Rice" is not parboiled rice but precooked white rice that has been dried and boxed for sale.
Types of Rice for Self-Sufficient Living
The most common way to cook rice is to boil/steam it, but there are other creative ways to cook and consume rice. Here are some other methods for cooking rice.
- Steamed rice - Basic boil/steaming of rice
- Risotto - Simmering rice, possibly with other ingredients, to create a creamy consistency
- Zongzi - Stick (glutinous) rice wrapped up small bits of meat or other ingredients, wrapped up in leaves and steamed/boiled. Cattail leaves work great for this dish.