Facts About California Wild Rice
When cooked, wild rice expands to three to four times its original size.
Depending on use, one pound of wild rice yields 16 to 22 (1/2 cup) servings.
Wild rice can be used in a variety of dishes, from breads and pancakes, to soups and salads, to pilafs, stuffings and casseroles.
One serving of cooked wild rice contains about 114 calories. Wild rice is high in protein and fiber, low in fat and has no additives or preservatives.
To have a ready supply of cooked wild rice on hand, cook a large quantity at one time. Then drain well and place in airtight containers. It will keep up to one week in the refrigerator and six months in the freezer.
The process by which California wild rice is harvested today is much more sophisticated and efficient than the original process. Algonquin, Chippewa and Sioux Indians and preservationists of the old ways paddle in canoes through dense, marshy rice beds. They flail the ripened kernels into the boat. After they return to shore with their “green” rice, it’s dried in huge kettles over open fires, threshed and winnowed to remove hulls and chaffs. then the wild rice is placed in birch-bark baskets for storage.
Some grains of wild rice fall victim to a condition called shattering, which is when some kernels mature faster than others and fall from the plant into the water before they can be harvested.
During the harvesting process, wild rice goes across cleaning equipment to rid it of leaves, stems, hulls and dirt. The result is a product nearly 100 percent free of debris.
Wild rice is actually a semi-aquatic grass that historically has grown in lakes, tidal rivers and bays in water between 2 and 4 feet deep.
Wild rice is believed to be native to the northern latitudes of the Eastern seaboard and around the fringes of the Great Lakes. In California, it grows in well-planned, man-made paddies with water depths of less than 1 foot.
California’s wild rice industry began in 1972 when white rice farmer Vince Vanderford decided to plant Minnesota wild rice seeds at his Yuba City farm in Northern California. Commercial production of California wild rice began around 1977.
Four conditions contribute to the success of California’s wild rice industry: effective management of water and other environmental factors; a long, dry, warm summer, with very little rainfall between April and October; the absence of plant disease; and the necessity to reseed the fields each year.
California harvests between 1,200 and 1,500 pounds of wild rice per acre, with a potential to harvest up to 2,000 pounds per acre.
The warm days of summer beckon a lighter fare with plenty of nutrition for active lifestyles. Try one of these favorites:
Tropical wild rice medley salad
Gingered California Wild Rice and Papaya Salad
Wild Rice Crepes with Chili Lime Shrimp
Creamy Wild Rice Dessert
Zucchini Stuffed with California Wild Rice