Carnaroli Rice
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Carnaroli Rice is a Medium Grain Rice that is very popular in Northern Italy. It is used primarily for making Risotto but can be used in other dishes such as Risi Bisi (Venetial Rice & Peas) and Rice Pudding. You may be mumbling to yourself “but Arborio Rice is used for Risotto,” and it is, but a few different Italian Rices can be so employed. Each yields a Risotto with a different texture and taste. Carnaroli Rice looks similar to Arborio Rice but it has a larger grain.

Carnaroli Rice is a Medium Grain Rice and a “medium” level of both the Amylose (24.1%) and the Amylopectin starches. High Amylose content in Rice yields Starchy Rice and a high Amylopectin level gives us Sticky Rice. In Carnaroli Rice, the Amylose helps resists the absorption of liquid so that the Carnaroli Rice holds its shape while a creamy texture is created by the Gelatinization of Amylopectin released by the Rice grains. Because of these properties, Carnaroli Rice is often dubbed “The King of Italian Rice” or the “Caviar of Italian Rice.” In fact, Carnaroli Rice is the preferred Rice type in most of Italy (except for Veneto where they prefer Vialone Nano Rice).

Carnaroli Rice is not an heirloom grain but a relatively recent hybrid created by a Milanese rice planter in 1945, who crossed a Vialone Nano Rice with a Japonica Rice. The result combined the strengths of both Arborio Rice and Vialone Nano with enough Amylopectin Starch outside to make a creamy Risotto and sufficient Amylose Starch to keep a hard inner kernel through the cooking process.

Carnaroli Rice is a Superfino Rice, which is the highest Italian classification.

Season

Rice in Italy is sown in the Spring and harvested in the Fall.

Cultivation

Carnaroli Rice is grown in the Piedmont and Lombardy regions of northwest Italy. The towns of Novara and Vercelli, located between Milan and Turin, are considered the centers of Carnaroli Rice production.

Carnaroli Rice is more difficult to grow and harvest than other Italian Rice varieties: these Rice stems easily break and are susceptible to disease, and grains of rice break more often during processing.

Production

Italy is the largest producer of rice in Europe and one of the major type of Rice grown there is of Carnaroli Rice. Much of the Carnaroli production occurs in Novara and Vercelli which lie between Milan and Turin. Some production also occurs in South America in the foothills of the Andes Mountains.

The grains of Carnaroli Rice are prone to breakage during processing.

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

Purchasing

Carnaroli Rice is among the more expensive Rice types and can be hard to find. If your local Specialty Grocer doesn’t carry it, your best bet will be a good Italian Market or Deli. Gourmet stores or mail order suppliers can be good options, too.

Be careful if looking at “Risotto Rice” it’s typically Arborio Rice, but scanning the label should clarify which type of Rice it contains.

Carnaroli Rice is generally available as White Rice in prepackaged containers. In the United States we hardly ever see it in bulk bins, even in the Hamptons.

We have purchased and used the Fondo di Toscana Carnaroli Rice and the organic Carnaroli Rice from Seggiano (these links go to Amazon) and have been happy with the results. Both are imported from Italy and cost less. Acquerello Brand Carnaroli Rice is aged and considered the Rolls Royce of Risotto Rice (this link also goes to Amazon).

When purchasing Rice, always check the expiration date since Rice can go bad if stored too long. With Carnaroli Rice, match your purchasing to your usage patterns.

While you are 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. Your final dish will likely be a mess of overdone and underdone Rice if you cook with broken grains and whole grains: broken grains are smaller than whole grains and the two sizes won’t cook together uniformly.

Storage

Carnaroli Rice is typically found as a White Rice type, which is a dried Grain that doesn’t require very much diligence to store. An unopened container of White Carnaroli Rice will keep almost indefinitely in a pantry at room temperature, in the refrigerator, or frozen.

Once opened, the only real risks to the shelf life are moisture and pests, including bugs and rats. Keeping the container sealed and airtight can protect against both of these.

Let cooked Carnaroli Rice (assuming it is not used in a Paella or Risotto with a variety of ingredients) cool to room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator. Cooked Carnaroli Rice will last about 3-5 days in the refrigerator but it is best to use it within 2 days.

If it is used in a Paella or Risotto, follow the Storage Guidelines for storing the Paella or Risotto.

Culinary Uses

As mentioned above, Carnaroli Rice has an optimal blend of the Starches Amylopectin and Amylose that allows it to cook to a creamy texture while retaining the shape and firmness of its individual kernels. It has a nutty flavor and is favored for uses where high levels of Simmering Liquid, Stock, or Condiments are employed. Carnaroli Rice is desirable here because it can absorb more liquid (up to 4 times more) than other Italian Rice types.

One place where Carnaroli Rice shines is in Risotto dishes. Risotto made with Carnaroli Rice is drier, fluffier, and less sticky. It also absorbs more of the flavor from the Brodo and the Soffritto. In fact, the Italian fine dining restaurant chain Il Fornaio has claimed that one of the secrets to their excellent Risotto is the exclusive use of Carnaroli Rice. The Carnaroli Rice strikes a good balance between intact grains and creaminess.

If using Carnaroli Rice for Risotto, you should not pre-rinse it. The running water will leach off some of the outer layer of Starch (Amylopectin). Remember that Amylopectin Gelatinizes in cooking heat and makes that creamy Risotto texture. You want to retain as much Starch as possible.

Carnaroli Rice tends to reach a creamy Al Dente texture easily, but one thing to watch out for is that Carnaroli Rice is slightly more sensitive to cooking time and can burst if overcooked.

Other uses for Carnaroli Rice is in gourmet Rice dishes such as Timbale or Rice Salad.

When choosing other uses, remember that Carnaroli Rice has a medium amount of both starches and can absorb a lot of liquid. We have found that Carnaroli Rice is best suited to delicate, sophisticated recipes. Think White Truffle or Saffron and you won’t be far off of the mark.

Nutritional Value

Nutritional data per 100 g:

Alanine - 0.395 g

Arginine - 0.568 g

Ash - 0.49 g

Aspartic acid - 0.640 g

Calcium, Ca - 11 mg

Carbohydrate, by difference - 81.68 g

Copper, Cu - 0.171 mg

Cystine - 0.140 g

Energy - 1548 kj

Energy - 370 kcal

Fatty acids, total monounsaturated - 0.200 g

Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated - 0.198 g

Fatty acids, total saturated - 0.111 g

Fiber, total dietary - 2.8 g

Folate, DFE - 7 mcg_DFE

Folate, food - 7 mcg

Folate, total - 7 mcg

Glutamic acid - 1.328 g

Glycine - 0.310 g

Histidine - 0.160 g

Iron, Fe - 1.60 mg

Isoleucine - 0.294 g

Leucine - 0.563 g

Lysine - 0.246 g

Magnesium, Mg - 23 mg

Manganese, Mn - 0.974 mg

Methionine - 0.160 g

Niacin - 2.145 mg

Pantothenic acid - 0.824 mg

Phenylalanine - 0.364 g

Phosphorus, P - 71 mg

Potassium, K - 77 mg

Proline - 0.321 g

Protein - 6.81 g

Riboflavin - 0.055 mg

Selenium, Se - 15.1 mcg

Serine - 0.358 g

Sodium, Na - 7 mg

Thiamin - 0.180 mg

Threonine - 0.244 g

Total lipid (fat) - 0.55 g

Tryptophan - 0.079 g

Tyrosine - 0.228 g

Valine - 0.416 g

Vitamin B-6 - 0.107 mg

Water - 10.46 g

Zinc, Zn - 1.20 mg

Nutrition

Carnaroli Rice is mostly Carbohydrates but also some Protein and some Dietary Fiber. In addition it contains Calcium, Glutamic Acid, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, and Zinc.

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

Yes

Low Calorie

Yes