Since ancient times, Japan has been known as “The Land of Abundant Rice”.
- Autumn, the Season for Shinmai (newly harvested rice)
- What is Organic Rice?
- Nijiya Organic Rice
- Organic Brown Rice
- How to Prepare Organic Brown Rice?
- Leading an Organic Lifestyle
- The 3 Key Steps to Cooking Delicious Rice
- Useful Tips- Organic brown rice made quick and simple
- How to Cook a Hearty 5-Grain Rice
Autumn, the Season for Shinmai (newly harvested rice)
As the autumn season approaches and rice begins to form their heads, the people of Japan celebrate to express their joy and gratitude for the year’s successful harvest. Field crops such as rice, in other words agriculture, lies at the foundation of Japanese society; therefore, a grand harvest festival known as niinamesai is annually conducted as a way of expressing thanks. Ritually, the season’s first freshly harvested rice is offered to the deities. Today, niinamesai is conducted on November 23rd at Ise jingu (Grand Shrine at Ise). In the past, it was a custom for people to accept the first, most delicious bite of the year’s shinmai, only after the offerings had been made to the deities. This custom is still used in certain farming areas of Japan. All year long, the people of Japan look forward to this very special day.
“White and shiny, warm and fluffy, a sweet aroma that fills the entire house, and a flavor that can’t be compared to anything else,” these are the seductions of freshly cooked rice. Grilled fish, tsukemono (Japanese pickles), miso soup, and a bowl of rice; rice is what carries the essence of a traditional Japanese meal; therefore, side dishes are made to complement the taste of rice.
Known as the blessing of autumn and the harvest of autumn, rice is at its best during the autumn season. You can tell the very special taste with the newly harvested shinmai rice. It actually contains 3% more water, and is therefore more plump and moist.
Although rice is a preserved food, with time, its moisture evaporates and oxidation begins to take place; therefore, it degrades slowly. By improving conditions of preservation, the process of decay can be suppressed, thereby preserving the delicious flavors of rice for a longer period of time.
Even here in California which has the largest Japanese rice production in the US, the shinmai season is in autumn. Shinmai is sold on the market starting around mid-September through December, slightly earlier in Japan because of it’s climate.
What is Organic Rice?
Rice, the most important ingredient to the Japanese diet, is now gaining worldwide attention for its availability as an organic food. Known to be especially flavorful and good for your health, organic rice is becoming increasingly popular and widespread in both Japan and the US.
What characterizes organic rice is that it is made without any inorganic agricultural chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, disinfectants, herbicides, and artificial hormones. Therefore, both the surface and the interior of organic rice are 100% natural, known as all organic. Organic refers to anything derived from the natural world; particularly, substances made and used as energy by vegetables and animals, including human beings. The ongoing cycle of the consumption and creation of organic matter existed far before the creation of mankind, which leads us into topics far too grand and existential. However, recently people have been reverting back to lifestyles that are more in sync with the natural cycle of life, and the reasons are deeply related to matters concerning our health and wellbeing.
Through worldwide research on the effects of inorganic substances on the human body, day by day, new facts are being revealed on which substances may be harmful and at what dosage. Therefore, new regulations are being set and alternative methods are being investigated to counter these harmful consequences. However, the consequences of inorganic substances would not even be a problem if we continue eat organic foods that are guaranteed safe and natural. These are a few reasons why organic foods may be the right choice for a healthy and worry-free life.
Nijiya Organic Rice
“No usage of inorganic agricultural chemicals” – this may sound simple at first, but it proves to be very difficult in reality. Fortunately, Nijiya’s plantations have succeeded in making organic rice by the installation of new, quite unusual methods of cultivation. One of these methods is to alternately allow the soil to rest during crop rotation, which has been avoided in the past for being unprofitable.
Growing the same crop repeatedly in the same place eventually depletes the soil of various nutrients. Therefore, chemical fertilizers are usually used to compensate these effects. However, in order to protect the abundant organic matter in the land used to cultivate organic rice, although increased costs cannot be avoided, every year, certain fields are given breaks with selected weeds that will replenish its nutrients. Furthermore, the land is supplied with the water that is cleaner than the water from reservoirs, and wild birds also gather to eat the weeds which help to break down organic matter. In this way, clean water, weeds, and birds, give the land new life. This method was developed through years of research, and made possible with the use of the newest facilities and devices. What we previously thought to be impractical and uneconomical was revised, reconsidered, enacted and finally a conclusion was reached that was the most successful in producing organic rice.
Organic Brown Rice
Along with organic rice, brown rice has also been gaining attention and popularity recently. Brown rice is the state of rice before it is polished and turned into white rice. With any grain or fruit, it is said that its nutrients are mainly found right beneath its shell or skin. Because with brown rice, the bran and germ layer have not been removed, it is characterized for having a much higher content of vitamins and dietary minerals than white rice. It is also rich in vitamin Bs and fiber, and is known to help with constipation, and popular amongst people on a diet. It is highly recommended to choose brown rice that is organic, because it is likely for agricultural chemicals to remain on the surfaces of brown rice through common cultivation procedures. With organic brown rice, you can enjoy the grain’s entirety without worrying about its safety.
How to Prepare Organic Brown Rice?
The process of preparing delicious brown rice has its twists and turns. If it’s cooked in a rice cooker the same way as white rice, the grains will turn out too hard to eat. This is because the thick shell does not easily absorb water, and water cannot permeate to the center of the grain. Therefore, when preparing brown rice, you must use 1.5 times more water than usual, and cook it using a pressure cooker. This method will allow water to seep through to the centers of the grain, and make the rice soft and delicious. For those who still have trouble eating brown rice, try out the different selections of partially polished organic brown rice, available as 70% polished rice, 50% polished rice, and 30% polished rice. Adjust the amount of water accordingly by remembering that the more polished the rice is, the more water it absorbs.
Leading an Organic Lifestyle
Through newly harvested organic rice, and organic brown rice, energies of nature can be reaped to their full potential. They are also the best tasting! Give them a try and experience the benefits for yourself! You’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover how amazing they really taste. Starting with organic rice, we highly recommend for you to slowly begin trying other organic foods and ingredients as well. Recently, the selections of organic seasonings have also increased, and their tastes continue to improve. Organic is gentle on our bodies, and gentle on the environment. Let’s choose to implement the organic lifestyle!
The 3 Key Steps to Cooking Delicious Rice
Quickly rinse and wash the rice with water 2 to 3 times. Washing it too slowly will cause an odor of rice-bran. Once the rice absorbs water, the grains also become fragile and easily broken. Therefore, wash it swiftly and gently by scrubbing the grains together.
Add about 1.2 times more water than the amount of rice (decrease 3% with new harvest rice, and increase 3% with older, summer-time rice). Soak for at least 1 hour. (2.5 hours is considered the ideal amount of time for the rice to absorb enough water). If you refrigerate the soaked rice to about 43 °F before cooking, the rice will become nice and crisp.
After the rice is cooked, place it into an ohitsu (round, wooden container for cooked rice). Allowing the rice to come in contact with air will further enhance its sweet flavoring.
Useful Tips- Organic brown rice made quick and simple
One easy method for cooking organic brown rice is to use a pressure cooker. A pressure cooker is a sealed vessel that does not permit air or liquids to escape below a pre-set pressure. Because the boiling point of water increases as the pressure increases, the pressure built up inside the cooker allows the liquid in the pot to rise to a higher temperature before boiling. Therefore brown rice can be cooked faster with less water and less energy. Try it, and you’ll be delighted to find how quickly and easily you can make delicious organic brown rice. If you want to eat brown rice every day, a pressure cooker is a must to have!
How to Cook a Hearty 5-Grain Rice
Follow the ratio 10 parts organic brown rice, to 2 azuki beans, 2 mochi brown rice, 1 hatomugi (Job’s tears), and 1 awa (Italian millet) or hie (barnyard millet). Wash and rinse the mixture with water. Then add water (1.5 times the amount of the entire mixture), place it into an electric pressure cooker, and set the timer to 20 minutes. About an hour later, as soon as you hear the steaming noises and the pressure decreases, it’s done. The nutrients lacking in rice have been supplemented; therefore it’s delicious, yet effective for beautification, dieting, and increasing your strength and endurance!
The best place to preserve rice is in a dark storage room with stable levels of humidity and temperature. Hot and humid locations should be strictly avoided. One method is to wrap the rice, seal it tightly, and store it in the refrigerator’s vegetable drawer. This will prevent the moisture from evaporating and suppress the process of oxidation. Another method is to keep it in a big plastic bottle and store it in the cellar.