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Nostrale Rice

Old grains, old methods, huge flavor.

In the colonial era, rice—not corn or wheat—was the staple grain in the South Carolina lowlands near the Atlantic coast. The first rice arrived to the Charlestowne settlement around 1670 with Venetian rice farmers and canal engineers. They called the rice "nostrale" which means "ours" in Italian. Over the next century and a half, rice flourished in the fields and on the tables. By 1803, there were more than thirty types of rice grown near to Charleston.

Back then, and for hundreds of years to follow, farmers bred crops for flavor. Since the middle of the 20th century though, most farmers have been more focused on transportability, or prettiness, or shelf life. Grains like nostrale rice fell out of favor as new crops promised higher yields and less risk of disease. Three years ago, if you went looking for nostrale rice in Charleston, you wouldn't have been able to find it—there just wasn't anyone left growing it. But through the work of Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills, who scours the southern countryside for the old seeds that no one grows commercially any more to bring them back into the culinary repertoire, there are a few farmers in South Carolina and Texas who have started growing nostrale rice again. And lucky us, we get to reap the benefits.

It's sweet and buttery, with an especially "rice-y" flavor. The texture is supremely creamy. It's an awesome choice for rice pudding, for risotto, for arancini rice balls, for eating paired with a stir fry or other saucy dish.

Nostrale Rice

P-NOS 14 oz bag
$12
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