Defined by Webster’s Dictionary, rice (Oryza sativa) is an annual cereal grass widely cultivated for its seed and used for human food. It is one of the world’s most important food crops.
One seed of rice yields more than 3,000 grains. It is the highest yielding cereal grain and can grow in many kinds of environments and soils.
Rice is significantly different from other cereals because its cultivation requires the controlled flooding and drainage of large tracts of land. If rice fields are not flooded or drained at the proper time, entire rice crops can be lost.
Rice cultivation begins by flooding a rice field to a depth of 2–3 inches. Rice is then either broadly cast over the flooded field of immature rice plants are individually transplanted into the muddy water.
Once the rice seed has germinated, it will take 3–7 months for it to reach maturity. The colour of the rice plant then turns from green to beige, signaling harvest time.
The outermost layer, or hull, encasing the paddy rice is inedible. Removing the hull (also called ëhuskí) is the first step in milling.
All rice destined for consumption is subject to this initial milling step in which ëshellerí machines strip away the hull. What remains is brown rice, with the bran layers still surrounding the kernel.
Grains of brown rice can then be milled by machines that rub the grains together under pressure. This abrasion process removes the bran layer, revealing white or ëpolishedí rice.
Parboiling is a steam pressure process in which rough rice is soaked, steamed and dried before milling. This procedure gelatinizes the starch in the grain, ensuring a firmer and more separate grain. Parboiled rice is often favoured by those who desire an extra fluffy rice.
Pre-cooked rice is white or brown rice that has been completely cooked and dehydrated after milling. This reduces the amount of time required for cooking.
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