Rye and Rice


Rye is a cereal grown in colder parts of northern and central Europe and Russia. It is mainly used for animal feed, but is also used to make breads and crispbreads. Rye contains gluten-forming proteins and is therefore not suitable for gluten-free diets.

The dough produced by rye flour is less elastic than wheat dough, and the breads therefore tend to be heavy and flat unless the rye flour is mixed with wheat to aid leavening and lighten the color. Rye bread may be made by standard bread-making methods, or by sourdough processes whereby starter doughs containing lactic acid are added to the flours. These give a distinctive flavor to the dough. Pumpernickel is a dark rye bread made from coarse grain by a sourdough process, with a long baking time that ensures that it keeps for a long time.

Rye crispbreads are made from whole meal or flaked rye, mixed with water or milk. The dough may be fermented with yeast to make brown crispbread, or unfermented (white crispbread). The nutrient value of crispbreads depends on the ingredients, but will be similar to the whole grain if this was used. They are commonly regarded as low energy foods – partly because they are light. However, weight for weight, crispbreads are more energy and nutrient dense than bread because of their low water content.


Rice is a cereal that needs to be grown in water to give the best yields. It is the second most important staple crop in the world: most of the yield (about 90%) is used as the main food in the country of growth and never enters the world markets. When harvested, rice grains are enclosed in a bull, which is removed in the first stage of milling to produce brown or wholegrain rice. Brown rice contains all the minerals and vitamins of the grain as well as some dietary fiber and it is therefore a useful food, despite needing longer cooking times than the more highly milled white rice which has the germ and brats removed. White rice is still a useful source of carbohydrate and energy: protein content is not high but it has a good pattern of amino acids. White rice is low in thiamin and other B vitamins, and in countries where white rice is the staple, supplemented by few other foods, has led to the development of the thiamin deficiency disease, beriberi. This was commonly seen in Japanese prisoners of war during the Second World War. Parboiling of rice prior to milling it to white rice distributes the vitamins and minerals through the grain, and has been used as a preventative measure.

Rice is often classified by grain length, and described as long, medium, or short grain. The different types have different culinary uses: long grain rice is usually boiled in water and eaten with savory dishes: short grain rice is used for milk puddings. In Mediterranean cooking rice with round short grains is used for making “risotto”.

Rice bran is commonly used as animal feed, but some is now also sold as a source of dietary fiber for those who cannot tolerate wheat.

Wild rice is not strictly rice, but rather the seed of an aquatic grass that grew wild in lakes in the north of the USA and south of Canada. The grain is now grown for the world market, and provides elongated shiny black-brown grains that have a nutty flavor and chewy texture when cooked. The grain is nutritious, having a higher protein and B vitamins content than cereals generally but it is usually eaten in smaller quantities. Rice and wild rice are both gluten free.

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