Medium Grain Rice
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According to the USA Rice Federation, Medium Grain Rice is usually described as a shorter and wider Rice “that is about two to three times as long as it is wide.” The typical single grain of Medium Grain Rice measures between .19 inches to .25 inches long (5mm to 6 mm) and the grains are slightly glassy and translucent.

Medium Grain Rice has an average Amylose content of only 12% to 19% which makes it less starchy than Long Grain Rice but not actually really very starchy or very sticky. We like to think of it, since it is already a medium grain, as also being a “medium” on the stickiness scale as well. Depending on the source, Medium Grain Rice is classified as a Starchy Rice or more frequently as a Sticky Rice.

Japonica Rice is sometimes used interchangeably with the term Medium Grain Rice, which can be purchases as Brown Medium Grain Rice or White Medium Grain Rice.

Season

Rice harvesting season in North America is typically early or mid-July in early planting regions such as California, where most of the Medium Grain Rice is sown and grown. Some Rice farmers are able to reflood their fields after their first harvest and achieve a partial second harvest or "ratoon" crop from the stubble of the first.

Cultivation

Medium Grain Rice grows well in temperate and mountainous regions. See the General Rice Resource for broad Rice cultivation information.

Production

In the U.S., Medium Grain Rice is grown principally in the Sacramento River Delta of Northern California. It is also grown to a lesser extent in The South. Medium Grain Rice accounts for about 25% of U.S. production. All U.S. rice is produced in irrigated fields, achieving some of the highest yields in the world.

Both White and Brown Medium Grain Rice are categorized into “Grades” (official U.S. Standards set by the Secretary of Agriculture) by the Rice growers before it even moves on to the Rice dealers. The standards are principally based on the cleanliness of the White Rice, its purity (whether or not they are intermixed with other varieties), and the wholeness of the Rice Kernels.

White Medium Grain Rice has 6 standard grades: Extra Fancy Rice (U.S. No. 1), Fancy Rice (U.S. No. 2), Extra Choice Rice (U.S. No. 3), Choice Rice (U.S. No. 4), Medium Rice (U.S. No. 5), and Sample Grade Rice. Brown Medium Grain Rice only has 4 standard grades: Extra Fancy Rice (U.S. No. 1), Fancy Rice (U.S. No. 2), Choice Rice (U.S. No. 4), and Sample Grade Rice.

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

Varieties

The bulk of the modern Medium Grain Rice types are derived from Asian Rice, more specifically Japonica Rice.

The most familiar varieties of Medium Grain Rice include: Japanese RiceSushi Rice, Bomba Rice, Calasparra Rice, Calrose Rice, Carnaroli Rice, Arborio Rice, Vialone Nano Rice, Valencia Rice, and Spanish Rice.

Purchasing

Medium Grain Rice is generally available in both prepackaged containers and bulk bins. When purchasing Rice, always check the expiration date as Rice can go bad if stored too long.

If you are buying Medium Grain Rice in bulk from a bin, make sure the merchant has high volume and that the Rice bin is, and has been, properly covered: You don’t want any surprises in your purchase. While selecting your Rice (in bulk or in packages), 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.

Finally, if you are conflicted, for budgetary or philosophical reasons, about buying Organic, you may want to give in here and buy Organic Rice. The reason is that research indicates that domestic non-organic Medium Grain White Rice contains 1.4 to 5 times more arsenic than organic Medium Grain White Rice from Europe, India or Bangladesh.

If you are buying Brown Medium Grain Rice your options will tend to be more limited. Again, we cover the specifics in the Brown Medium Grain Rice Resource but will cover the highlights here.

Because the Medium Grain Brown Rice retains its Rice Bran (and Rice Bran Oil which can go Rancid) we don’t recommend purchasing Medium Grain Brown Rice from bulk bins. We are willing to trade a bit of the price break for greater longevity and quality at cook time.

When purchasing Brown Rice, always check the expiration date. Time impacts Brown Rice much more severely than it does White Rice.

Storage

How you store Medium Grain Rice will depend on whether you have a Brown Medium Grain Rice or a White Medium Grain Rice. We cover the specifics of each type of Medium Grain Rice in their own resource sections but will cover the highlights here.

White Medium Grain Rice is a dried Grain. An unopened container of Medium Grain White Rice will keep almost indefinitely in a pantry at room temperature, in the refrigerator, or frozen.

Brown Medium Grain Rice is a different story because of the Rice Bran Oil (which can go Rancid) that is contained in the Rice Bran that hasn’t been milled away. Brown Medium Grain Rice has a shorter shelf life than White Rice and requires a little different handling and philosophy to maximize your yield and value. With Medium Grain Brown Rice, how you store it revolves around how quickly you plan to use it. 

Culinary Uses

Medium Grain Rice is found as either Brown Medium Grain Rice or White Medium Grain Rice. There are also cultivars within each of those groups that have different characteristics and properties. We treat each more thoroughly in their own resource section but will cover some highlights here.

Generally, Raw White Medium Grain Rice is glassy and slightly translucent. Cooked, White Medium Grain Rice is moist, tender, and soft, and while the grains will separate, they have a tendency to cling together. Because it is somewhat sticky in texture without being extremely sticky, some Medium Grain Rice types are useful for dishes where a little stickiness is desired like Sushi Rice, Risotto, Paella, Arroz Negro, Italian Rice, Croquettes, etc. Medium Grain Rice is also a good call for use in Soup. Added to White Stock or Brown Stock, Medium Grain Rice will absorb some flavor from the Stock and add some Starch (and some heft) to the Soup. The proportions are generally one half cup of cooked Medium Grain Rice or 3 Tablespoons (3 T) of Raw Rice for each quart of Soup. Rice added to soup will make it slightly cloudy.

Whether you pre-rinse your Raw Medium Grain Rice really depends on how you intend to use the Rice. If you want a creamy outcome, for example in Paella or Risotto, avoid pre-rinsing which would wash away some of the Amylopectin Starch in the outer layer of the Rice kernel, that Gelatinizes when cooked, to make dishes creamy. If you want less creaminess, like in a Soup or in Jambalaya, pre-rinse the Medium Grain Rice.

In general, Medium Grain Rice, which is stickier than Long Grain Rice, is cooked with the “Bang/Bang” method described in Smart Kitchen’s Cooking Sticky Rice Exercise or by Steaming Rice.

In addition, Medium Grain Rice is cooked according to the desired outcome. For example, Risotto Rice is cooked in the Risotto style (Smart Kitchen has an Exercise on Basic Risotto). Paella Rice is cooked in the Paella style.

Brown Medium Grain Rice will take approximately 15 minutes longer to cook than White Medium Grain Rice.

Brown Medium Grain Rice will take longer to cook and will be less sticky or creamy than White Medium Grain Rice. The Rice Bran husk, which is retained in Brown Rice, will contain much of the Amylopectin starch from the outer layer of the rice kernel, preventing it from leaching out into the dish, Gelatinizing, and making the dish creamy. 

Nutritional Value

Serving Size: ¼ cup (44 g)

Calories 160

Calories from Fat 10 g

Total Fat: 1.5 g 2%

Carbohydrates: 34 g 11%

Dietary Fiber 2 g 7%

Protein 3 g

Iron 2%

Nutrition

The Nutritional Information of Medium Grain Rice can be found on the Resource page for the actual variety of Rice.

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

Yes

Low Calorie

Yes