Rice labels: types of rice and how to choose the right one for your recipe

Reading and understanding food labels is the only tool we have, as consumers, to evaluate the quality of the products we buy and how to better cook them. 

For example, have you ever felt confused about all the different types of rice while trying to choose the right one for your favorite risotto? Large grains, small grains, yellow grains, white grains, round grains, oval grains, gray grains and red grains: they are called 'rice', however, they can really defer from each other.

In fact, rice can have different characteristics; from the location of origin as well as growing and cultivation methods to different subspecies of the Oryza Sativa plant, from which we get our rice. On each package there is a lot of information that makes each cultivar unique. Knowing how to read this information helps us recognize the right type of rice for our recipes. 
how to choose the right type of rice - black rice

How to read rice labels and choose the right type of rice for your recipe

First things first, what is Oryza Sativa? It's a herbaceous plant of Asian origin, from which the different types of rice derive. Also, did you know that rice is gluten-free? This makes it a great solution for all those who suffer from gluten intolerance. Then, what does each rice label include? Net product quantity, minimum shelf life, brand and company name, producer's headquarters, country of origin, production batch coding, and nutrition facts. 

Nutrition facts must be expressed per 100g as well as per single portion while a sales denomination that indicates the specific rice cultivar should be clearly visible. For example, it is necessary to specify whether the package includes Arborio, Carnaroli, Basmati or other varieties of rice. 

In fact, this piece of information plays a key role in selecting the right type of rice. For example, whole grain rice is richer in fiber, minerals and vitamins, nutritional values that get lost during processing. 

how to choose the right type of rice for your recipe - rice dish

Recipes and rice varieties

Arborio rice
Fine, white, short-grain rice of American origin, which releases high amount of starch when cooked. It is perfect for creamy risottos as well as cheesy creams or sauces. Make the most of leftover arborio rice by combining it with mozzarella in order to make arancini. It is also excellent for soups. Cooking time varies from 16 to 18 minutes. 

Balilla rice
Rice of Italian origin with round fat grains, perfect for recipes such as vegetable timbales and 'supplì', or even puddings, pastries and biscuits.

Basmati rice
Rice of Pakistani origin with strong smoky aroma, a perfect side dish to meat and vegetables. When boiled, it remains grainy and therefore, ideal for ethnic recipes.

Carnaroli rice
It is an Italian medium-grained variety of rice which is particular popular among chefs thanks to the fact that it keeps its shape better than other varieties. Combine it with saffron, or use it for cold salads in summer and rich risottos in winter.

Black Venus rice
Black and fragrant, this Chinese origin type of rice is famous for its high quality. When cooked it remains 'al dente' and it retains its consistency. It is excellent when combined with fish or summer salads with exotic fruits.

Patna rice
Rice of Indian origin, it owes its name to the capital of the state of Bihar. Patna grains are about 6 millimeters long and remain grainy even after cooking. It is suitable as a side dish and can be boiled or steamed. Given the type of grain, it is suitable for exotic dishes and rich summer salads.

how to choose the right type of rice for your recipe - rice with saffron

Ribe rice
A rice characterized by its compact long grains, which remain firm even after cooking. It is mainly used as parboiled rice. Excellent for meals that need to be delivered or transported after cooking as it does not get too hot. Also, it is a great side dish and ideal for stuffed vegetables.

Camargue Red rice
As the name indicates, this type of rice is cultivated in the region of Camargue, in France. Although it is a whole grain rice, it is perfect for desserts.

Jasmine rice
Jasmine is a rice cultivar of Thai origin. It belongs to the oriental rice varieties that are becoming more and more popular in Italy. Its main characteristic? Its oriental scent! It is used for steamed or stir-fried dishes and it is a great side dish to curry recipes and vegetables.

Vialone Nano rice
Vialone Nano rice originates in the region around Mantua, Italy. Its flat grains make it an ideal ingredient for a classic pumpkin risotto 'alla mantovana'.

Indication of country or place of origin
Another important element to take into account when buying rice is the place or country of origin. The regulations on rice labelling require the following indications:
a) Country of cultivation
b) Country of processing
c) Country of packaging

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