Rice Specifications Print E-mail

Rice specifications are not difficult, but unless they are written into the food aid proposal and contract you may find your organization with the USDA Fact Sheet Description, which states:

"The rice shall be long, medium, or short grain milled rice grading U.S. No. 2 (or 5) or better."

If this description is used, your organization will receive the cheapest and probably the lowest quality rice available in the U.S. market at the time of the tender.

Ordering rice is not difficult. One of each of the four factors listed below should be in the contract and call forward statement.

1. TYPE: U.S. Rice has three basic types whose nutritional content is essentially the same:

Long Grain:

  • WHAT: When cooked, the grains are separate, light, and fluffy.
  • FOR: This type of rice is ideal for recipes requiring a distinct shape and texture
  • WHERE: Traditionally eaten in the Western Hemisphere, Eastern Europe, Middle East, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and most of Africa and the high-end tourist market worldwide.
  • CROP SIZE: Large amounts are grown in the U.S.
  • COST: The price tends to vary with demand on a yearly basis
  • COOKING: 1 1/4 cups of uncooked rice cooks in 15 minutes making 3 to cups

Medium Grain:

  • WHAT: When cooked the grains are moist and tender, and have a greater tendency to cling.
  • FOR: This type of rice cooks to a somewhat creamy consistency.
  • WHERE: Traditionally eaten in Central Asia, North Asia, Mediterranean and Aegean regions.
  • CROP SIZE: Large amounts are grown in the U.S., but usually less then long grain
  • COST: The price tends to vary with demand on a yearly basis
  • COOKING: 1 1/4 cups of uncooked rice cooks in 15 minutes and yields about 3 cups
Short Grain:(Generally not used in food aid programs)
  • WHAT: When cooked grains are soft and cling together.

2. GRADES: Two basic grades are generally used in food aid:

#2/7 or better has 7% broken kernels, "may be slightly gray" in color and is well-milled.

#5/20 or better has 20% broken kernels, "may be gray or slightly rosy" in color and reasonable well-milled. The nutritional content is virtually the same as #2. Cooking time is slightly shorter than # 2.

3. PARBOILED OR NOT PARBOILED for long and medium grain rice.

Parboiled rice is rough rice (rice with the inedible outside hull intact) soaked in warm water under pressure, steamed and dried before milling. The procedure gelatinizes the starch in the grain and results in firmer more separate grains. Parboiled rice can be milled to produce a brown or white rice. Two cups of uncooked parboiled rice cooks in 20 to 25 minutes yielding 3 to 4 cups. Often used by food service industry because the kernels hold their shape for a long period of time.

4. MILLING: Rice can be milled in different manners.

Brown rice or whole grain: is the least processed form of rice. It has the outer hull removed, but still retains the bran layers that give it the tan color and nut-like flavor. This type of rice has the highest nutritional value. Two and one-quarter cups cooks 45 to 50 minutes yielding 3 to 4 cups.

Reasonably well-milled: most of the bran layer is removed which results in a slightly darker color then well-milled rice.

Well-milled: all of the bran is removed .

1. The calcium content is higher in parboiled rice, even without intentional enrichment, because calcium carbonate is typically used as a milling aid with parboiled rice. Bran removal is more difficult in parboiled rice. So, an abrasive material, like calcium carbonate (ground limestone), is added to the brown rice as it enters the milling process. Most of the calcium carbonate exits with the bran stream, but naturally, some stays on the surface of the milled rice.

2. "OLD RICE" Starch changes do occur in rice during storage, but most of this occurs within the first 3 months, or so, after harvest. After that, changes are much, much slower. If the rice is milled before the rapid changes are complete, starch in the milled rice would probably continue to change. However, the impact of these changes on cooking quality do not seem to be as dramatic as when they occur in rought (paddy) rice. These starch changes that occur in paddy rice result in the rice having a firmer texture with less cohesiveness than is the case for freshly-harvested rice.

Grading Standards for U.S. Rice