Wild rice is catching the fancy of people who are always on the look out for healthier food options. Contrary to its name the grain is not really rice. Like rice it grows in standing water (though deeper), and belongs to the grass family.
It is a native of North America and grows wild in lakes and ponds of Wisconsin and neighboring states. It also grows in the Marshes of Great Lake, shores of Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast.
It does not grow commercially and is a difficult grain to harvest. Very much like the Native Indians, one still needs to harvest it in a canoe or boat.
Harvesters thrash the mature crop with a stick and collect the grain in a container. Quite a bit is lost to the water, but that is akin to seeding for the next crop.
Wild rice is available in red, brown and black. Wild rice has a rich nutty and smoky flavor. When prepared to perfection it is delicious. It is usually used along with rice to add color, but can be easily used on its own.
Wild rice needs to be cooked with care as it easily goes from being under-cooked to over-cooked in a short time.
It is simple enough to cook. Add a cup of wild rice and a pinch of salt to two cups of boiling water. Simmer for about 40 mins till all the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and use in your favorite recipe.
Wild rice is a whole grain and unlike rice, has fewer carbohydrates and calories. It is rich in fiber, thus the perfect option for someone on a diet.
It has vitamin B2, zinc, folic acid and omega 3 fatty acids that help keep cholesterol under control. It is also the perfect choice for those who have gluten allergies.