There are no hard and fast rules for which type of U.S.-grown rice to use in any particular recipe; it’s simply a matter of personal preference. Here’s a quick guide to the many types of U.S.-grown rice, with endless menu possibilities!
Long grain rice has a long, slender kernel three to four times longer than its width. Due to their starch composition, cooked grains are lighter, fluffier and more separated than medium or short grain rice. Long grain rice works well in such dishes as pilaf, stir-fry, salad, soup and Southern favorites like jambalaya and gumbo.
Medium grain rice has a shorter, wider kernel than long grain rice, two to three times longer than its width. Cooked grains are moist and tender, with a tendency to cling together. Medium grain rice is a good choices for dishes that have a creamier consistency, such as risotto or rice pudding, as well as sushi and other Asian dishes.
Short grain rice has a short, plump, almost round kernel. Cooked grains are soft and somewhat chewy, with a slight springiness to the bite. Like medium grain rice, short grain rice is a good choice for creamier consistency dishes as well as Asian dishes.
Brown rice has the outer hull removed but still retains the nutrient-dense bran layers that give it a tan color, chewy texture and nutty flavor. Brown rice is a 100% whole grain, rich in minerals and vitamins, especially the B-complex group.
White rice (regular-milled) has the outer husk and bran layers removed. Most U.S. white rice is enriched with thiamin, niacin and iron and fortified with folic acid to restore nutrients lost during processing.
Parboiled rice is rough rice that has gone through a steam-pressure process before milling. This procedure gelatinizes the starch in the grain, ensuring a firmer, more separate grain when cooked.
Pre-cooked rice, also called quick-cooking or instant rice, is white or brown rice that has been completely cooked and dehydrated. This process reduces the time required for cooking.
Retort or ready-to-heat or rice is precooked rice that can be heated in the microwave in only one to two minutes.
U.S. jasmine is an aromatic long grain rice with a distinctive aroma and flavor. Cooked grains are soft, moist and cling together.
Like jasmine, U.S. basmati is an aromatic long grain rice with its own distinctive aroma and flavor. The cooked grains are long, separate and fluffy.
U.S. arborio is a medium grain rice with a characteristic white dot at the center of the grain. Primarily used in risotto, this rice develops a creamy texture and has an exceptional ability to absorb flavors.
Black japonica is an aromatic, 100% whole grain rice with a dark black bran. Cooked grains are slightly chewy with a subtle sweet spiciness.
Red aromatic rice has a deep-colored, honey-red bran and is 100% whole grain. Cooked grains have a savory, nutty flavor and are slightly chewy.
Wild rice is a 100% whole grain, semi-aquatic grass native to North America. It is a good source of complex carbohydrates and protein. Cooked grains have a nutty flavor and chewy texture, perfect for mixing with white or brown rice.
Sweet rice, also known as sticky rice, has a glutinous consistency when cooked. The short, plump grains stick together and are commonly found in Japanese or Thai dishes.
Rough or paddy rice is rice as it comes from the field. Rice kernels are still encased in an inedible, protective hull.