Black Rice
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Black Rice, sometimes also known as Purple Rice, is not a distinct variety of Rice but a grouping of Rice types that have a distinctive Black/Purple color. The black color comes from trace minerals retained by the Rice Bran that covers the Rice grains.

Black Rice can also belong to the Long Grain Rice, Medium Grain Rice, and Short Grain Rice categories. Normally the length of the Rice grain is more broadly informative about how to use and cook the Rice: Long Grains are stiffer and starchier and Medium Grain Rice is stickier. 


Black Rice is sown in the Spring and harvested in the Fall. See Smart Kitchen’s General Rice Resource for more information on the seasonality of Rice.


See Smart Kitchen’s General Rice Resource for more information on Rice Cultivation.


There are a few varieties of Black Rice, including Forbidden Rice/Chinese Black Rice, Black Japonica Rice, Black Glutinous Rice, and Black Thai Sticky Rice.

Forbidden Rice/Chinese Black Rice: (grown heavily in northern China) is a Medium Grain Rice that was originally grown only for the Chinese Emperors, or so legend has it. The Rice Bran of Chinese Black Rice holds onto a number of trace minerals, which gives the Rice grains their attractive purple/black color. Forbidden Rice also has an alluring fragrance, nutty taste, and improved nutrition (from the trace minerals in the Rice Bran). In fact, Forbidden Rice is rich in anthocyanins and antioxidants; it also has more Vitamin B, Niacin, Vitamin E, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, and Zinc than traditional American Long Grain White Rice.

Chinese Black Rice is traditionally used to make Congee (a Rice Porridge) but its nutty taste is delicious as table Rice, Rice Salads, and Fried Rice.

Because it is essentially a Brown Rice, with the Rice Bran still attached (but black instead of brown), cook and handle it as you would Brown Rice.

A whole grain black rice has a white kernel underneath the black-colored bran layer. 


Black Rice is generally available as an un-milled or semi-milled Rice product. Most of the black color comes from the Rice Bran in these black or purple-colored Rice varieties. Removing the Rice Bran would remove most of the desirable color. If Black Rice is available at your local store it will most likely be Brown Rice (Black Rice) and be sold in a prepackaged container. If you can’t find Black Rice locally, check the Internet.

When purchasing Black Rice, always check the expiration date because Black Rice, with the Rice Bran intact, can go bad (Rancid) if stored too long.

While selecting your Rice, keep an eye out for any signs of moisture which can ruin Rice. Also, try and buy as few broken grains of Rice as possible. Broken grains are smaller than whole grains and the two sizes won’t cook uniformly together, making your final dish a mess of overdone and underdone Rice. 


Because most Black Rice is essentially a Brown Rice (with the black Rice Bran and its Rice Bran Oil that can go Rancid), it will have a shorter shelf life than a comparable White Rice and requires a little different handling and philosophy to maximize your yield and value.

With Black Rice, how you store it revolves around how quickly you plan to use it. If you plan to use it all in a few weeks, store the Black Rice in an airtight container in a cool dark place like your pantry. Sealed, it may last 3-6 months but will be best for only a few weeks. If you open your package from the pantry, store the unused portion in the refrigerator or freezer for a better shelf life.

In the refrigerator, sealed, your Black Rice will last for 6-12 months in an airtight container. Frozen, you should get 12-18 months (for best quality).

Let cooked Black Rice cool to room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator. Cooked Black Rice will last about 4-7 days in the refrigerator but it is best to use it within 2 days. 

Culinary Uses

Because it is a category, the culinary use of each type depends on its starch content. Handle Black Rice according to whether the specific variety is a Long Grain Rice type, Medium Grain Rice type, or Short Grain Rice type.

Nutritional Value

Serving Size: 69 g

Calories 250

Total Fat 2 g 3%

Carbohydrates 53 g 18%

Dietary Fiber 4 g

Sugars 2 g

Protein 6 g

Iron 6%

Gluten Free


Low Fat


Low Calorie