All Posts from May, 2016

Rice processing and biodynamic agriculture

May 7th, 2016 | By Michele Pili in Parco San Marco | No Comments »

Rice is a grass of the genus Oryza Oryze which is sown in spring and harvested in September and October according to the varieties. A single grain of rice consists of a kernel, a germ, one aleurone layer (called chaff) and layers of glumes (called husks). During harvest time, the freshly picked kernels of rice – called ‘paddy’, ‘raw’ or ‘rough’ rice – is then processed to free it from its husk and chaff.

To make rice edible, various procedures are then necessary which take place in the rice mill. Firstly is the husking where two rough discs, rotating in the opposite direction and spaced at a suitable distance apart, break the husk without damaging the grain. The next process is the bleaching or refinement. This method involves one or more steps in the whitening machine in which two cones (one inside the other) covered with a frosted surface remove the residues of husk and which produces the semi-finished or merchant rice. Polishing, which is accomplished in similar machines to the bleaching machines but with cones covered with strips of leather, has the purpose of generating the most white and polished grain. This rice is known as ‘processed’ or ‘refined’. This is then sorted and packed.

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From here it is then possible to processes the rice further involving a treatment with talc or glucose that makes the already polished rice white and translucent. The industry has also developed further methods to obtain a product with improved food quality and greater resistance to cooking. Parboiled rice is among them. The parboiling technique involves exposing the paddy to a hydrothermal treatment and subsequent drying. This causes the partial gelatinization of the proteins belonging to the endosperm (the tissue produced inside the seeds of most of the flowering plants around the time of fertilization) and the migration of certain vitamins and minerals to the inner layers, thus increasing the nutritional value. On the downside, the rice obtained at the end of this process is more dark and with a different aroma.

The Oryza Sativa is divided mainly into:
Indica varieties: these are grown mainly in tropical areas (South and South-East Asia, southern states of the US, Madagascar, Caribbean) and have the advantage of being able to easily overcome drought and disease without suffering major damage. The grains of this variety have a slender and elongated appearance.
Japonica: are at home in East Asia, in the Arab states, in the Mediterranean area, South America, California and Australia, the grains of the variety Japonica are characteristically short and oval to round. In Italy, especially in the Po Valley, there are a number of varieties of the Japonica subspecies.
Javanica varieties: it is only these 126 varieties that are listed in the national register in Italy and many regions have developed crops well suited to their culinary culture.
The restaurants of Parco San Marco use a biodynamic rice produced in Vercelli in its many dishes. These biodynamic products have all the characteristics of the biological ones, and are in fact subject to the same inspection and certification systems. A biodynamic farm is considered a living organism, where crop production is integrated with animal breeding to provide the right fertilizer for crops. It also takes into account the astronomical and lunar cycles in the calendar of work. The soil is treated as a huge “dynamic” laboratory with preparations based on natural substances and manure, to increase soil vitality and defenses.

Come and try for yourselves our cheese and pepper Carnaroli risotto made from rice biodynamically cultivated in Vercelli and served with beetroot and crunchy Parmesan and linseed – a real treat!

 

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