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Did you know that at Lundberg Family Farms we grow more than seventeen different varieties of rice? From long grain rice like Organic Jasmine Rice to short grain rice like Organic Sushi Rice, each one brings something different to the table—including color! Of course, there’s Organic White Rice and Organic Brown Rice, but did you know rice comes in other colors too? There’s Yellow Rice, Black Pearl Rice, and—a Lundberg family favorite—Red Rice!
A RED RICE BY ANY OTHER NAME
Red Rice has long been a family favorite for its honey-hued grains, irresistible aroma (some say it smells like popcorn!), and nutty flavor. We haven’t always called it “Red Rice” but, in the words of William Shakespeare, “A Red Rice by any other name would smell as sweet.” Okay, Shakespeare might have been talking about roses and we haven’t been growing Red Rice since the sixteenth century, but we have been growing it since the seventies!
In 1971, Harlan Lundberg and his family—including his wife, Carolyn, and their three young sons—traveled to Brazil as volunteers with the Peace Corps. While living along the Amazon River in Belém, Harlan bore witness to incredible biodiversity. He also worked to improve the local rice mill, where he first encountered red rice and black rice. At the time, the Lundberg brothers were only milling brown rice. Red rice and black rice—with their colored brans—were a novelty to Harlan. When he returned to Richvale, Harlan was determined to try growing them himself.
Harlan accessed new varieties of rice from all over the world by ordering seeds through the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Maryland. He would choose varieties from a catalog and the seed bank would send him just a few seeds of each. The catalog didn’t provide very much information about each variety, so Harlan had to evaluate them as they grew. Then, he would observe and select specific plants for color, grain size, flavor, and compatibility with growing conditions in California. One of the varieties he developed was Richvale Red Rice, named for the little town we call home.
RICHVALE RED RICE (OR CHRISTMAS RICE)
Richvale Red Rice had a vivid, scarlet awn (or straw) that would turn the whole field crimson! However, it didn’t mature consistently, making some of the rice grains appear red and others green. When it was milled, the two colors mixed together and reminded the Lundberg brothers of Christmas. So, they decided to rename Richvale Red Rice and began selling Christmas Rice in a festive, holiday package for celebrations all year long!
WEHANI (OR RED RICE)
Christmas Rice has come and gone, but another of Harlan’s varieties endures: a bold, long grain red rice he called Wehani, a derivation of WEHAH, which stands for Lundberg’s founders Wendell, Eldon, Harlan, Albert, and Homer. Today, we call it Red Rice, but all the trademark characteristics of Wehani remain. It is the longest, thickest variety we grow. How does red rice cook? Because it is a whole grain with the russet bran intact, Red Rice requires a few extra minutes in the pot (Red Rice cooking time is 50 minutes). As it simmers and steams, Red Rice fills the kitchen with the aroma of hot buttered popcorn or peanuts!
RECIPES FOR RED RICE
The warm color of Red Rice may add a dramatic, gourmet flair to the table, but this variety is fuss-free. Its nutty flavor fits right in with your favorite recipes. Wondering how to cook red rice? Here are a few of our family’s favorite recipes:
Add a whole-grain twist to your Saturday morning staple! These Red Rice Pancakes are not only delicious, but also deceptively easy to make any day of the week. Plus, they’re packed with whole grains to fill you up without weighing you down.
This recipe for Red Rice Shrimp Cakes doesn’t skimp on flavor! Once cooked, combine savory Red Rice with sweet coconut milk and spicy curry paste. Then mix in roughly chopped shrimp and basil. Form into rice patties, coat with panko, and it’s time to fry!
Red-y to spice up Taco Tuesday? Swap ground beef for hearty whole grains! Cooked in a skillet with tomato juice, chopped onion, minced jalapeno, and your favorite seasoning, our Organic Red Rice transforms into a standout stand-in for taco meat.
PLANTING SEEDS FOR THE FUTURE
Lundberg Family Farms didn’t have a nursery when Harlan developed Red Rice. In fact, the development of Red Rice led to the development of our nursery, where we preserve and develop varieties of rice that are flavorful, unique, and compatible with organic farming practices, not reliant on chemicals. It’s all part of our promise to make better food for the table while leaving a better world for the next generation so we can keep growing together for generations to come.
HUNGRY FOR MORE?
Get to know each of our seventeen
varieties in our “Rice 101” blog post. Curious about our farming practices? Check out
the Land page of our website! We also have a
bumper crop of Recipes, plus we’re serving up
inspiration on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest! Have a recipe
of your own to share? Tag us! Whether it’s generations old or
something new, we’d love to see what’s on your plate!