Who knew that one little grain could be used in so many ways? Rice can be used raw or cooked and can be processed into everything from vinegar to wine, milk to cosmetics. Read to learn more about this amazing grain.
Raw rice may be ground into flour for many uses, including making many kinds of beverages such as amazake, horchata, rice milk, and sake. Rice flour does not contain gluten and is suitable for people on a gluten-free diet. Rice may also be made into various types of noodles. Raw wild or brown rice may also be consumed by raw-foodists or fruitarians if soaked and sprouted.
Processed rice seeds must be boiled or steamed before eating. Cooked rice may be further fried in oil or butter, or even added to other foods (meatloaf, hamburgers) as a binding agent in place of products containing gluten.
Rice is a good source of protein and a staple food in many parts of the world, but it is not a complete protein: it does not contain all of the essential amino acids in sufficient amounts for good health, and should be combined with other sources of protein, such as nuts, seeds, beans or meat.
Rice, like other cereal grains, can be puffed (or popped). This process takes advantage of the grains’ water content and typically involves heating grains in a special chamber.
Rice bran is a valuable commodity in Asia and is used for many daily needs. It is a moist, oily inner layer which when heated produces an oil.
Rice brew typically has a higher alcohol content (18–25%) than wine (10–20%), which in turn has a higher alcohol content than beer (3–8%).
Some types of rice wine:
Sake is also referred to in English as Japanese rice wine, which is not entirely accurate. Wine is made from the single fermentation of plant juices (other than sparkling wine or champagne, which can be a double fermentation to create the carbonation). Sake is produced by multiple fermentation of rice, which is similar to the way beer is produced.
Rice milk is a kind of grain milk processed from rice. It is mostly made from brown rice and commonly unsweetened. The sweetness in most rice milk varieties is generated by a natural enzymatic process, dividing the carbohydrates into sugars—especially glucose. Some rice milk may nevertheless be sweetened with sugarcane syrup or other sugars.
Compared with cow’s milk, rice milk contains more carbohydrates, does not contain either significant amounts of calcium or protein, and no cholesterol or lactose. Commercial brands of rice milk are typically fortified with vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamin B12, vitamin B3, and iron.
Many people are either allergic or otherwise sensitive to dairy and soy, making rice milk an easy and nutritious alternative. Rice milk is made by pressing the rice through a mill stream using osmosis to strain out the pressed grains. It can also be made simply and easily at home with a food processor.
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