I had the car radio on while driving through Boise and the station was our local NPR station – the car radio only gets one station! They were having a discussion on the different types, not particularly the different kinds, of rice. No, rice is not just rice. With over 40,000 different kinds of rice, the varieties are almost endless. If you wanted to try a different kind of rice each day until you got through those 40,000 varieties, it would take you 105.9 years! It’s probably too late for me to start that experiment now. So, I thought it might be interesting to explore this idea and get to know rice. Here goes -In looking at many, many pages on rice types and kinds, I did find this one from Hubpages about the 3 classifications (types) for rice. Here is part of that article.
3 Classifications for Rice Length: Long, Medium and Short
By Kathryn Vercillo
There are literally tens of thousands of different varieties of rice in the world. However, rice can actually be broken down into just three different types if you want to keep things simple. There is long-grain, medium-grain and short-grain rice. As the classifications suggest, the three different types of rice grains are categorized based upon their length as compared to their width. A skinny, long type of rice grain would be a long-grain whereas a round-ish grain that’s about as wide as it is long would be a short-grain.
Long vs. Medium vs. Short Grain Rice
Long-Grain Rice Long-grain rice is easy to identify because it is the narrowest or skinniest of the different types of rice that you might come across. If a piece of rice is at least four times in length what it is in width then it is considered to be a long grain. Long-grain rice is usually the fluffiest type of rice. For that reason it is considered the best type of rice to serve with sauces; it holds the sauce well but it also tastes good plain. A popular example of long-grain rice is Basmati. It is long grain rice with a beautiful fragrance. Traditionally it was grown in India, but now famous around the world. On the other hand, Jasmine is an excellent long-grain fragrant white rice. It has a slight jasmine aroma after cooking and are slightly stickier than Basmati. It is grown in Thailand and used throughout Southeast Asia.
Short-Grain Rice. Whereas long-grain rice is skinny and tall, short-grain rice is short and fat. It often looks round in shape because the width is so close in size to the length with this grain. Short-grain rice generally has a higher level of starch content than the other grains do making it a type of rice that tends to be sticky. For that reason it’s especially popular for rice pudding although it can be eaten alone or in other rice dishes as well. A popular example of short-grain rice is Arborio. Arborio is a short-grain rice that takes its name from the town of Arborio in the Po Valley of Northern Italy where it was originally grown. It is high in starch content and thus has a starchy taste of its own.
Medium-Grain Rice. Once you get a good idea of what constitutes long-grain rice and what would be considered short-grain rice, you’ll also be able to identify medium-grain rice. It’s the type of rice that falls somewhere in between the two other grains. For example, a rice grain that is about three times as long as it is wide would be a medium-grain rice. Medium-grain rice is terrific in rice-based dishes such as paella and risotto.
OK. So now you’re going to ask, “But what about brown rice?” Hmmmm.
Brown Rice. Brown Rice is not a separate variety of rice, but any rice, short-grain or long-grain, which is not polished or part is called brown rice. They are more nutritious than the white rice and are of two kinds:
Fully Unpolished – When the entire layer of bran is not removed.
Partially Unpolished – When bran is only partially removed.
Although it takes longer to cook, the more nutritious rice is brown or hulled rice. The rice is milled to remove the hull, but keep the rice bran layer and the germ. It has more of a nutty flavor is chewy. It is more nutritious and has a lower glycemic index than white rice. The bran contains most of the minerals and vitamins. It is the bran that also gives it the darker color. Any type of rice can be milled as brown rice. It is more expensive because less people like to eat it, and it has a much shorter shelf life. (Kinds of Rice)
So with all of this information, sum it up in one or two sentences. “The Long and Short Of It. Although there’s an exact science to the measurement of rice grains, as a [home] cook you really only need to know the basics. A long skinny type of rice grain will be less sticky and a bit firmer than a short, fat rice grain.” Now, go and try each of the types of rice. The web is full of information and recipes for using rice. There’s more to it than steaming, add butter, eat. Enjoy!