Join me as we do a deep and delicious dive into the world of wild rice. You'll discover where it came from and how it tastes, nutrition facts, cooking instructions, recipes for how to use it, and so much more. Grab your canoe (see below ) and let's get to it!
Despite their shared name, wild rice is not a direct relative to the other types of rice we usually eat. Think of it more as a cousin. It comes from a type of grass originally grown in North America, around the Great Lakes area.
It is grown on lakes and has to be harvested by hand, while in a canoe!
The native tribes in America often ate it, and some include it as a sacred part of their culture. It was first commercially grown in Minnesota, and that is where it continues to be primarily harvested today.
Wild rice is a delicious and healthy ingredient that I highly recommend cooking with more often! Let's learn all about why you should be eating this healthy grain.
Wild rice has a stronger taste than other varieties of rice. "Planty," "grass-ish," and "rustic" are all very untechnical ways of describing its flavor. The flavor is not so strong, however, that it overtakes a dish.
It is also chewier than other varieties of rice, especially white rice.
In the United States, it is very common to see wild rice sold in a mix with other types of rice, like brown rice and red rice. In fact, it's more common to see sold in a mix, than sold on its own.
This may be due to its strong flavor or its high cost.
Check out this nutrition label for 1 cup of cooked wild rice.
For a grain, wild rice is high in protein. It has a lot of fiber and is low in fat. Just one cup of it cooked provides 5% or more of the daily value of thiamin, riboflavin, iron, and potassium; 10% or more of the daily value of niacin, vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, and phosphorus; 15% of zinc; and over 20% of manganese. Wild rice is high in antioxidants.
All of these nutrients mean that wild rice is a very healthy thing to consume with many benefits. The vitamins and minerals wild rice provides are great for your skin, help reduce inflammation, and aid in digestion.
Because it is high in fiber and protein, consuming wild rice can also aid in weight loss. Some label it as a "superfood" and some claim it is the healthiest form of rice because of its high protein content.
Wild rice is naturally gluten-free. It has a Glycemic Index of 57, which is considered low, which makes it a good option for people with diabetes to eat in moderation.
👪 Serving Size
1 cup of dried wild rice makes about 3-3.5 cups of cooked wild rice.
📖 Cooking Instructions
To speed up cook time, wild rice can be soaked beforehand. This will decrease cook time by about 50% but is not necessary. If you forget to presoak, like I always do, you can still easily cook it.
Whether or not you soak your grains, you should always rinse them before cooking.
The water ratios for each method are:
- Stovetop: 3 cups liquid to 1 cup wild rice
- Instant Pot: 1 ⅓ cups liquid to 1 cup wild rice
- Rice Cooker: 2 cups liquid to 1 cup wild rice
- Oven: 2 cups liquid to 1 cup wild rice
Wild rice can be substituted with brown rice, red rice, or black rice.
Uncooked wild rice has a long storage life. If stored in a cool location, in an air-tight container it can last up to 7 years!
Once cooked, it can be stored in the fridge for about 1 week, or in the freezer for 6 months. In order to prevent freezer burn, make sure rice is completely cooled before placing it in the freezer.
💰 Where to Buy
You should be able to purchase wild rice in the same aisle of the grocery store as other types of rice. As mentioned above, you can buy it as part of a mix, or on its own.
You can also get it from the bulk bins in your grocery store.
You might notice that wild rice is significantly more expensive than other types of rice. For example, at my local Winco, wild rice is $5.98 a pound, while long-grain white rice is only .68 cents a pound!
According to my research, the reason it is so expensive is that it is a lot more labor-intensive to grow and especially harvest. The grains are harvested by hand and it is a fascinating process.
Wild rice is grown on top of lakes, so to harvest it, 2 people head out in a canoe. One person paddles the canoe, while the other uses cedar sticks to hit the rice plants, causing the rice grains to fall into the canoe.
Check out this video about how it's harvested if you want to learn more. One of the harvesters describes harvesting wild rice as "an honor." Love it! I will definitely be consuming wild rice with a more humble attitude.
Wild rice makes a great side dish to really any type of meat or vegetable. It is often served in soup. Here are some of my favorite recipes from around the web:
Here are some things you might need when preparing wild rice:
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You know, of all the ingredients I've researched, I think learning about Wild Rice has been the most fascinating. I loved learning about how it's still being harvested by hand in canoes and I had no idea that it was a sacred ingredient in some Native American cultures. I'll definitely be more thoughtful as I consume wild rice in the future. I hope I have also inspired you to try out this delicious grain.