There’s a lot more to rice than meets the eye. In fact, there are thousands of varieties grown around the world. We made our selections by looking for where the best varieties are known to grow and importing from those select areas. When people see our handpicked assortment of fine rice varieties at tradeshows, the number one question we are asked is, “What’s the difference?” Here is a brief overview of the main types of rice and what distinguishes them from each other.
Bown rice has the outer hull removed — they simply polish the rice in water mist tumblers to remove the bran and reveal the white grain inside. But it still retains the bran layers that give it a tan colour, chewy texture, and nut-like flavour. Retaining the nutrient-dense bran layer makes brown rice a 100% whole grain food, rich in minerals and vitamins, especially the B-complex group. Regular brown rice cooks in 40 to 45 minutes — but the added nutrients and fibre in brown rice makes it well worth the wait!
For more information about the health benefits of brown rice please click here.
Due to its starch composition, it is light and fluffy and falls off your fork. Its kernel is long and slender and is three to four times longer than its width. Long grain rice has no aromatic or floral notes. Harvested once per year in the fall, usually in October, it is popular in Mexican dishes.
Medium grain rice is two to three times longer than its width, producing a shorter, wider kernel than long grain rice. Cooked grains are more moist and tender than long grain, and have a greater tendency to cling together, hence the reason it is referred to as sticky rice. It is well suited for paella, desserts, and sushi. Medium grain rice is harvested once per year in the fall, usually in October.
Classified as medium grain rice, this is a large, bold rice with a characteristic white dot at the centre of the grain. Arborio rice is primarily used in risotto because it absorbs flavours particularly well and develops a creamy texture around a chewy centre. Other risotto varieties include Carnaroli, Vialone Nano, Roma, and Baldo. Risotto rice varieties are available in different grades. The highest grade and most popular is superfino. After superfino, the grades decrease from fino, semifino, to commune.
Short grain rice has a short, plump, almost round kernel. Cooked grains are soft and cling together, yet remain separate and are somewhat chewy, with a slight springiness to the bite. Harvested once per year in the fall, usually in October, it is a great choice for sushi or rice pudding.
Sweet Rice (also known as sticky or glutinous rice)
This is fat and very sticky short rice that has a chalky white, opaque kernel. It makes great sushi and is used in dim sum dishes, such as Lo Mai Gai, and various Asian desserts. When cooked, sweet rice loses its shape and becomes very sticky and glutinous. This rice is also harvested once per year in the fall, usually in October.
Jasmin rice is also known as Thai fragrant rice, a name that refers to the beautiful jasmin fragrance. This long grain rice has a light, floral flavour. Cooked grains are soft, moist, and cling together. Jasmin rice is used in lots of Thai dishes, accepting sauces well, but can be substituted in recipes calling for long grain rice with superior results. The pleasant jasmin scent will emanate from your kitchen and anyone familiar with jasmin rice who walks into your kitchen will know what’s cooking. Jasmin is harvested three times a year.
Basmati is aromatic long grain rice that needs to soak for 20 minutes before cooking. While it is great in Indian dishes, it is suitable for virtually any dish. Its distinct aroma and flavour is similar to that of popcorn or roasted nuts — a pleasant fragrance that will emanate from your kitchen. When cooked, it swells only lengthwise, resulting in long slender grains that are dry, separate, and fluffy. Basmati rice is allowed to age, so each grain loses the appropriate moisture content. This further helps the rice become light and fluffy with that classic fall-off-your-fork characteristic. Harvested just once per year in the fall, Basmati ranks the lowest of all rice on the glycemic index, making it more suitable for diabetics.
Aromatic Thai Red Rice
Thai red rice is a medium grain variety of rice that is cultivated primarily in Thailand, hence the name. This aromatic red variety has a savoury, nutty flavour and adds colour to dishes. Interestingly, the red colour is caused from clay in the soil that stains its red husk. Like brown rice, it takes longer to cook and is slightly chewier than white rice.
Black Japonica Rice
Black Japonica is a combination of Asian black short grain rice and medium grain mahogany rice that were grown together in the same field. It has a dark black bran and its dark colour turns the cooking water purple. When cooked it is slightly chewy and provides a nutty mushroom flavour coupled with a subtle, sweet spiciness. Excellent in stuffing, casseroles, and side dishes, black japonica rice is full of natural vitamins, minerals, and fibre.
Wild rice is actually not rice at all! Rather, it’s a type of grass that grows a long stalk and thrives in deep water. This is the only “rice” that grows in Canada, the best coming from Saskatchewan. All wild rice is sold with the bran on the kernel (like brown rice) and this gives it its black appearance. It has a rich, nutty flavour and a delightfully chewy texture.
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