Rice Growing in Maryland
We grow rice because we eat rice, and we eat rice here because we grow rice here. Here in Maryland, we grow rice as an upland crop, versus in paddy fields. We aim for nutrient density in our growing practices and therefore offer our rice unpolished only. This means brown as opposed to white, which means we’re not throwing away the most nutritious part but rather offering it to your bodies for where it was intended and where it is needed. With much research, we have challenged many varieties to grow here, and few have passed the test. The following is a list of the varieties we have grown. For information on current availability, please inquire.
The Significance of Upland Rice (versus paddy rice) and How This Relates to Arsenic
We have been witness to arsenic scares in rice as of late. As usual with such alarmism, the nuances are never addressed (that would actually empower you!)
Arsenic in rice plants can be a problem because it becomes available in flooded, anaerobic soils. Anaerobic soils are a condition of paddy fields. Planting rice in upland, also known as dryland, conditions means there is no flooding, which means the soils remain aerobic. Thus, upland rice is of an entirely different category as it behaves like any other crop and is not subject to unusual arsenic uptake. Plus, arsenic needs to be present in the soil to begin with. This is the situation in Texas and other parts where cotton used to be grown using pesticides with arsenic in them.
Rice is traditionally and commonly grown in paddy fields as a form of weed control. The rice not only survives, but thrives in wet conditions, although most weeds do not. For upland rice growing we therefore select for best suited varieties, and do mechanical as well as hand weed control. In this way, you pay a farmer for healthy food, which is a pro-active, big-picture and more cost-effective scenario than paying a doctor for reparations.
Long Grain Rice
CYPRESS – A long-grain rice coming out of a Texas breeding program. Fluffy and tender with a flavor capable of standing on its own.
PRESIDIO – A long-grain Texan variety with a firm yet tender texture. Delicious as a bed for stews and sauces.
SAHABAGI – A long-grain traditional rice from India. The texture is fluffy and tender, the flavor is clean, pairing well with many dishes.
Short Grain Rice
KOSHIHIKARI – A Japanese heirloom, short-grain rice with a delicate, nutty flavor and chewy texture. This rice pairs well with many dishes while also standing well on its own.
TITANIO – An Arborio rice coming from Italy and traditionally used to make risotto. The exterior is smooth and shiny when cooked, with a characteristically thick consistency. When making risotto, because this is a brown Arborio, we recommend simply boiling the rice and finishing it off like a risotto by simply adding your butter and cheese at the end of the cooking time.
HMONG STICKY – An heirloom short-grain sticky rice originating from Southeast Asia. Sticky rice is waxy, yielding a glossy appearance when cooked. The texture is sticky and chewy, the flavor is rich and fragrant with sweet undertones.
Rice cooking in your Kitchen
Cooking with Maryland rice in your local kitchen means many things. Practically, it means you are cooking with fresher rice. This yields greater aromatics, greater nutrition, and greater flavor. The following are our recommendations when cooking with our rice.
Clean the rice.
Before cooking, cover the rice with cool water, swirl, scoop off any floating debris and drain. This will remove any remaining hulls and clean the rice.
Prep to cook the rice.
Plan for a rice to water ratio of 1 : 1.5. Measure the water and bring it to a boil.
Cook the rice.
Once the water is boiling, immediately add the rice, cover the pot, and simmer, untouched, without stirring, on low heat, for 50 minutes.
You might note that the above-suggested ratio uses less water than is commonly used to cook common brown rice. This reflects the freshness of our rice, and potentially the freshness of the oils. The sticky and sweet rice varieties will especially benefit from this ratio, minimizing their sticky tendencies.
Rice in your mouth or in storage
Rice comes with a papery hull surrounding each grain. These must be removed for eating. When the rice is hulled, the grains, being now exposed and slightly impacted, begin to oxidize and the natural oils begin to age, much like flours do post-milling, although to a much lesser degree. We hull our rice in small-sized batches, reducing the time lapse between hulling and consumption. This yields brown rice without bitterness and instead reveals the fresh aromatic qualities that rice possesses. Production for local consumption, variety selection, as well as growing methods also play their role in this. To maintain these qualities, rice is best stored in a refrigerator or freezer.