There Are More Types of Brown Rice Than You Thought

By the editors of Cook's Illustrated

It’s time to meet some members of the extended brown rice family.

Did you know that brown rice is just white rice with the bran layer left intact? The hearty layer is packed with nutrients, which is why brown rice is often touted as a healthier choice than its more processed, white relative.

Like white rice, brown rice comes in several different varieties. We cooked our way through the four most common members of the brown rice family—basmati, short grain, long grain, and jasmine—to discover their qualities and see how they differed from each other. We evaluated them to define their individual textures, flavors, and to come up with the best cooking method for each.

We found that the cooking times and liquid-to-rice ratios were comparable for each variety—they all cooked in about 65 minutes, using our oven-baked method and 2 1/4 cups of liquid per 1 1/2 cups of rice. Texture and flavor, however, were quite different from each other. Here’s what we found:

BASMATI

  Basmati

TEXTURE: Distinctly separate grains with an elastic, almost spongy texture.

FLAVOR: Mildly sweet with clean nut and barley flavors.

SHORT GRAIN

  Short Grain

TEXTURE: Soft and creamy with a starchiness similar to that of risotto.

FLAVOR: Very sweet and malty-tasting.

LONG GRAIN

  Long Grain

TEXTURE: Very firm, separate grains with almost no elasticity.

FLAVOR: Earthy-tasting with a slightly chalky finish.

JASMINE

 Jasmine

TEXTURE: Moderately firm, separate grains.

FLAVOR: Nutty, buttery, and rich-tasting.

 Brown Rice Salad

RECIPE FOR MEMBERS: Brown Rice Salad with Fennel, Mushrooms, and Walnuts

We cook the rice using the pasta method, which ensures evenly cooked grains in half the usual amount of time. To season the rice, we dress it with vinegar while it is still warm, and then add bold mix-ins that contribute contrasting flavors and textures.

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