Several varieties of this fine, long grain rice are grown in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Louisiana, and Texas. It is also the most common type of table rice consumed in the world.
Also known as japonica and calrose rice, this variety requires a temperate climate and is only grown in Japan, Korea, Australia, and some Mediterranean countries. This rice tends to be on the softer, sticky side.
Not as sticky and "clean tasting" as japonica varieties, this variety is popular in the southern United States and Puerto Rico, where it is served with beans, meats, and sauces.
The rice is slightly sweeter than conventional rice. Mochi is a specialty variety, with a small number of acres in California dedicated to growing it.
With a strong aroma and taste, and a sticky texture, this rice is much like California medium grain rice. Many varieties grown in the United States imitate this unique type of rice, but so far no one has matched it.
Grown in the northern Punjab region of India and Pakistan, this aromatic rice commands the highest price of any variety grown in the world. The raw kernel starts long and slender, but increases in length by more than three times when cooked. Indian Basmati is aged at least one year to increase its elongation and firmness when cooked.
An Italian variety commonly used in risotto dishes, Arborio Rice is close to California medium grain in appearance and texture, but is a bigger kernel with a distinct chalky center. When properly cooked, this develops a unique texture with a starchy creamy surface and a firm bite in the center.
Wild rice is a type of grass that grows a long stalk and thrives in deep water. Traditionally grown wild in the lakes of the northern United States and southern Canada. All wild rice is sold with the bran on the kernel (like brown rice), giving it a black appearance.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a grain-like seed, which is easily prepared and has more nutrient density when compared with other grains. It has a delicate nutty flavor which works nicely as a side dish, in a mixed side salad, in soups, or even as a breakfast cereal.
Red and black rice are simply varieties of rice that are harvested with their hull or germ fully or partly intact, which means the grains retain both their color and their intrinsic nutritional value. Both have a mild, nutty taste and can be used interchangeably in most any dish that calls for white or brown rice.
Buckwheat is actually a fruit seed that is similar in size to wheat kernels, only with a slightly more angular shape. Two varieties are most widely available: roasted and unroasted. The unroasted has a soft, subtle flavor; the roasted is more earthy and nutty in flavor.
Barley has a rich flavor and a chewy, pasta-like consistency. It is one of the more well-known “ancient” grains in the United States, as it is commonly used in soups and side dishes as an alternative to rice or pasta.
Chia is a seed with a mild, nutty flavor that is nutritious and digestible whether whole or ground into a meal. The seeds are slightly smaller than poppy seeds and can add nutritional value to cereals, salads and yogurts. When mixed with any liquid, the seeds swell and become thick and sticky (they can even be used to replace egg in recipes for people with dietary restrictions).
Flax seeds are nutritionally dense containing healthful omega-3 fats and fiber; however they must be ground to optimize the body’s absorption of their nutrients. Whole flax seeds are a bit larger than sesame seeds and when used whole, add delicious crunch to salads or baked goods.
Farro has an “al dente” bite to it and becomes slightly starchy as it cooks making it ideal for risotto-style dishes, or for use in breads, cereals and desserts.
Kamut (pronounced kah-muht) is in fact a trademarked variety of the generic khorasan wheat, which is very similar to common wheat, but with a large wheat kernel, buttery flavor and with more nutrition. It is often ground into a variety of flour, or can be prepared like rice for use in pilafs and soups. Kamut International, Ltd. filed their registered trademark on the term kamut to protect the heritage of the grain including the way it is bred, grown and packaged.
Millet is said to be one of the world’s oldest human foods. It is a nutritious, quick cooking, mildly sweet, fluffy, whole cereal grain. It is free of gluten, which also makes it popular for people with dietary restrictions. Across the world, millet has been used to prepare flat breads (those that do not need to rise) including Mexican tortillas and Indian bhakri and roti.
Couscous (pronounced koos-koos) is a semolina wheat grain and a staple food throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Properly cooked couscous is steamed to be light and fluffy and traditionally served with meat or vegetable stews poured over top.
Sorghum (pronounced sor-gum) is said to be the fifth most important cereal crop across the world since it is hardy in difficult and dry growing regions, and it is versatile enough to feed both humans and animals. Sorghum is free of the gluten found in regular wheat flour, and is an excellent substitute for wheat flour in breads and other baked goods.