Rice is not quite ready to enjoy straight from the harvest. First, it needs to be milled before it’s ready to go to the dinner table.
The rice you get from the harvest is known as paddy rice, or rough rice. This rice hasn’t had the husk removed yet. Occasionally this is used as animal feed, but this is rare because it’s too expensive and too high in fibre for this purpose.
How Rice Milling Works
Next, the paddy rice goes to the mill. Before it’s milled, the rice is cleaned to remove any impurities. Then the rice is dehusked, which removes the hard outer coating. The rice needs to be dried before husking takes place. Originally, the husking process was done by hand with a mortar and pestle, but this was exceedingly labour-intensive. Now, rice husking machines do all the work of removing the husk.
After husking, about 20 per cent of the weight has been removed from the rice. What you have left is brown rice, or whole grain rice. Sometimes a one-step milling process is used that removes both the husk and bran, leaving polished rice.
Milled rice, whether whole grain or polished, is vastly different from paddy rice. The appearance, texture, aroma, taste, nutritional value, and shelf life are all changed by the milling process.
Sorting and Separating Grains
Next, rice is sorted and separated for consistency. For the best cooking results, your rice needs to be consistent in texture and length. Grains are sorted by length, and broken rice is separated from the mix.
At this point, it’s time for the rice to be polished. The bran and germ are removed. The rice then runs through a sieve to separate broken rice and Brewer’s rice from the white rice.
Then, the white rice is graded and sorted according to length to provide consistency in the final product. Finally, it’s packed in bags.
By-Products of Milling
The rice itself is just part of the result of processing. By-products play a role in the marketplace as well. Some of these by-products include:
- Rice husks – used as dietary fibre in pet feed, for fuel, and in brewing
- Rice bran – added to meals for dietary fibre, thiamine, vitamin E, and antioxidants
- Rice bran oil – processed and used for making vegetable oil, waxes, and beauty products
- Broken rice – used in livestock feed and for making textile starch
- Brewer's rice – broken rice that’s used for brewing beer
- Rice germ – very nutritious, used in both livestock feed and human consumption for its high levels of vitamins and antioxidants
- Whole-grain rice flour – a fine flour used for baking gluten-free whole grain baked goods
- White rice flour – used to thicken sauces, and for making Vietnamese filled pancakes and Japanese tempura dough