What Is Black Rice? 4 Reasons to Add This Nutritious Grain to Your Diet
Rice is a culinary staple, and we're betting you probably have some brown rice, jasmine rice, or maybe even some wild rice in your pantry at this very moment. While each of those rice varieties has a distinct flavor profile and slew of nutritional benefits, the oft overlooked black rice has something to bring to the table (literally!) as well. Sometimes referred to as purple rice or forbidden rice, the term black rice actually encompases a range of different rice types that have a myriad of health benefits and culinary uses.
Ready to learn more about this tasty grain? Here's everything you need to know about black rice.
What Is Black Rice?
Black rice is actually a range of rice types that includes Indonesian black rice, Philippine balatinaw black rice, pirurutong black glutinous rice, and Thai jasmine black rice. It's a medium-grain rice that originated in China and other parts of Asia some 10,000 years ago. It gets its other common name—forbidden rice—because it was once solely reserved for the Chinese emperor to ensure his health and longevity, and forbidden to all others. Today, you can find black rice at your local supermarket or Asian specialty market.
What sets black rice apart from other, similar grains is obviously its hue, which is actually caused by a gene mutation. While it looks black when it is raw, it actually adopts more of a deep purple color once it's cooked. This unmistakable shade comes from anthocyanins found in the grain's bran hull, or outermost layer. These chemical compounds, which are the same pigments responsible for the color of eggplants, blueberries, and concord grapes, may appear red, purple, blue, or black, depending on their pH.
As far as taste is concerned, black rice has a mild, nutty flavor, similar to that of brown rice. It also has a very chewy texture, which is why it's often used in porridge, puddings, and rice cakes. And those who avoid gluten will be pleased to learn that black rice is naturally gluten-free.
Black Rice Nutrition and Benefits
Some rice varieties are more nutritious than others, and as the Chinese believed thousands of years ago, black rice is near the top of the healthy rice list. In fact, it has more fiber and protein than red, brown, or white rice, and gets an extra nutritious boost from those aforementioned anthocyanins.
How to Cook Black Rice
Despite its different hue, cooking black rice is very similar to how you might prepare other types of rice. There's no need to rinse it first, as doing so may strip away some of those helpful nutrients.
To cook black rice on the stovetop, use 2 cups of water per 1 cup of rice. For chewier rice, feel free to use slightly less water, and for a softer texture, use a bit more water. Once the water begins to boil, add the rice, cover the pot, and let it simmer on the stove. You'll know the rice is done once it has a tender texture and the water has been absorbed. This usually takes about 30 to 35 minutes—roughly 10 minutes longer than other types of rice.
When the rice has finished cooking, remove the saucepan from the heat and let it stand, covered, for about 10 minutes. Fluff the rice and serve.
How Long Does Black Rice Stay Good For?
According to the USDA, dry goods, such as uncooked black rice, should be stored in airtight bags or boxes and be kept in a cool, dark, and dry place in order to prevent mold. If you intend to keep your black rice in its original packaging, be sure to frequently check it for holes, which could allow moisture or bugs to get in. To provide extra protection, place black rice in plastic or glass food storage containers. Uncooked black rice will stay fresh in the pantry for up to six months, and can be kept in the freezer for about a year.
Cooked black rice, on the other hand, should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will stay fresh for about three to five days.
Black Rice Recipes
When it comes to cooking with black rice, feel free to use it in dishes where you would normally use white or brown rice, such as grain bowls or fried rice. Black rice also shines in desserts, like rice pudding. Check out some black rice recipes below.