Black rice is a whole grain rice with an extraordinarily high anthocyanin content, an antioxidant that gives the rice its dark color.
Black rice is sticky rice (glutinous rice) that is used to make porridge, desserts, traditional Chinese black rice cakes, and bread; it can also be served as the perfect side dish to hearty dishes. In addition, it is used to prepare salads and vegetable stews. In Bali, this type of rice is used to make the traditional black rice pudding.
In dry form, black rice varies in color between dark brown and black but takes on a deep purple color when cooked. You can prepare it in the same way as brown rice by cooking it in 2 to 2.5 times the amount of water. After 40 minutes of cooking time, the rice should be firm to the bite, yet tender, slightly sweet, and nutty.
Whole grain black rice can easily be sprouted and used to make raw food dishes. Black rice is particularly suited for this. To sprout black rice, soak in water for 12 hours. It can start to turn purple as its pigments begin to emerge, similar to those found in raspberries. After soaking, use a sieve to drain the rice. While sprouting will not yet be visible, the process will have started. Don’t soak the rice any further but be sure to keep it moist. Repeat the process of rinsing and draining morning and evening, and then leave out to dry. After 2–3 days, tiny sprouts should begin to form and you will know that the sprouting process is complete. The rice can now be eaten raw and will have a slightly nutty taste. It is a perfect side dish to serve with salads, vegetable dishes, and other main courses.
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In Europe and the United States, black rice (also known as purple rice, venus rice, and forbidden rice) is available in grocery stores, health food stores, and online. According to Wikipedia, this rice is the result of the hybridization of an Asian variety of black rice with an Italian rice variety. It has been cultivated since 1997, predominantly in the Po valley part of the Piedmont region.
Different varieties of black rice grown in Asia can be purchased in Asian grocery stores as well as on the Internet. The color of the rice varies depending on the region it comes from. Black Thai rice has a reddish hue, whereas Indonesian rice has a brownish color. Authentic Chinese rice has an intense black color.
Black rice is classed as whole grain rice, which according to genetic criteria is a variety of round grain rice. As a result, some types of black rice are more glutinous than others. A special type of glutinous black rice is also available.
Black rice is a nutritious food that is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. The nutritional information (see table) is based on the European variety, Piedmont black rice.
The high levels of anthocyanins found in black rice are also particularly noteworthy. Black rice has the highest total antioxidant capacity (TAC) compared to white and red rice. It contains polyphenols with a broad spectrum of dark pigments and important antioxidant activity. Black rice aleurone contains 1.36 % anthocyanins and 0.16 % in the intact grain. Black rice bran also has the highest antioxidant activity of all types of pigmented rice. When cooked, the overall antioxidant capacity is reduced. However, with the total absorption of water, many anthocyanins remain in the rice.1,2,3
Studies show that the anthocyanins found in black rice help reduce stress. They are also associated with the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cataracts. In addition, black rice extract is said to provide relief for asthma-related problems.2 The positive effects of anthocyanins on cancer, atherosclerosis, hypoglycemia, and allergies are also well known.4
In addition, black rice is a good gluten-free alternative for people who are gluten intolerant. Be sure to look for the gluten-free symbol, which is only found on licensed products.
Rice and rice products may contain large amounts of inorganic arsenic, which is considered carcinogenic to humans. Inorganic arsenic occurs naturally in the Earth’s crust in varying concentrations. To date, there is no amount of this semimetal that has been found harmless to health. It is well known that rice absorbs more arsenic through its roots than other crop foods.5
The largest producers of black rice are China, Thailand, Vietnam, and Indonesia. In the past twenty years, black rice from the Italian region of Piedmont has entered the European market. Since black rice from China would not have been able to adapt to Italy’s climatic conditions, a hybrid was made between Chinese rice and a local variety.6
Black rice (forbidden rice, emperor’s rice, venere rice, purple rice) is a variety of the rice plant (Oryza sativa) from the Poaceae family. Grains of rice are made up of the seedling, endosperm, aleurone, husk, and pericarp. The latter three parts form the aleurone layer.
The two most important rice subspecies are the long-grain, nonglutinous rice (Oryza sativa ssp. Indica) and the short-grain, glutinous rice, also known as sticky rice (Oryza sativa ssp. Japonica). A third subspecies is a medium-grain rice (Oryza sativa ssp. Javanica), the type most commonly used to prepare risotto. Based on genetic criteria, medium-grain rice is often classified as a round grain rice variety.7