Texture and Flavor

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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Wild rice has a firm, chewy texture thanks to its intact bran layer and the parching process, which gelates and then anneals the starch much as parboiling does for true rice. It takes longer to cook than most grains, sometimes an hour or more, because its starch has been precooked into a hard, glassy mass, and because its bran layers are impregnated with cutins and waxes to resist the absorption of water (in nature, the grains fall into the water and lie dormant for months or even years before germinating). The dark pigmentation may also contribute; it is partly green-black chlorophyll derivatives and partly black phenolic complexes generated by browning enzymes. Producers often slightly abrade the grains to improve their water absorption and shorten cooking time. Cooks can also presoak the grains for hours in warm water.