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More about culinary ingredients: Rice
Rice is a grain like wheat, except rice is normally eaten directly in the form of the grain, rather than
being ground up into flour. After the rice grains are harvested, the outermost layer, known as the hull,
is removed. This is the form of rice known as brown rice. To produce white rice, first more of the outer
layers are removed, and then the rice is polished. White rice therefore looks more appetising, but it
has a much lower nutritional value because most of the nutritious part of the rice is located in these
outer layers. The rice is polished remove an outer layer of essential fats, which, although good for the
health, would greatly reduce the shelf life of the rice if this layer was not removed, since fats are highly
subject to oxidation by air.
Rice grains contain on average 70 % starch, 10 % water, and 8 % proteins. The starch is contained in
many starch granules located within the rice grain. On boiling in water, these granules take up water
from the outside and the rice will swell. As the granules take up water, the starch will gelatinise, and
this makes cooked rice digestible. Some starch granules on the surface of the rice grain may release
starch into the cooking water, making the rice grains more likely to stick together. The retrogradation
that occurs in cold cooked rice makes the rice tougher and drier.
Different types of rice
Although all rice grains contain a similar quantity of starch overall, different rice varieties contain
different relative quantities of amylose and amylopectin, which determines its properties on cooking.
Long grain rice contains a high amylose content (around 22%) is generally used for boiling or pilaf,
since it cooks into grains that are separate, light and fluffy. The high amylose content means that the
granules are held together more strongly, so need more water and longer cooking times to gelatinise,