Taste test: Wild rice

My family prefers mashed potatoes at most holiday dinners, but my sister-in-law always serve wild rice. Wild rice brands vary in color, texture and taste. I prefer a dark blend of hearty rice, something I can mix with herbs and nuts for chunkiness. We prepared nine brands of wild rice or white/wild rice blends on the stovetop and one type that required microwave cooking. Salt and butter were added when called for on the package directions. The differences were vast. These are the ones our panelists will be serving this holiday season. Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/serving Lundberg Wild Blend

One-quarter cup, dry

Rice-a-Roni Long Grain & Wild

One-quarter cup, dry

Canoe White 'n Wild

One-quarter cup, dry

Calories Fat / Fiber / Sugars / Sodium Carbohydrates / Protein 150 1.5g / 3g / 0g / 0mg 35g / 4g 190 .5g / 1g / 2g / 780mg 43g / 5g 160 0g / 0g / 0g / 0mg 35g / 4g
Judges' comments Judges liked this brand for its flexibility. "It would be a great base for accepting seasonings and other flavors," said one panelist. The brown rice grains were bold in size, color and texture, but a bit bland in flavor. "I would definitely toss in a lot of salt," said one judge. Another said it would be a great base in a soup. This popular rice brand was soft and chewy, brightly colored with a mixture of white and brown grains. "This has the traditional flavor that I am used to," said one judge. Another said he liked the moderate level of seasonings and salt flavor and the ratio between the white and brown rices. Picky eaters might like this the best, panelists agreed. Rich colors gave Canoe's rice an edge in our tasting. Judges liked the base of the rice dish, saying they would add more seasonings and some herbs for texture. "It's already got a nutty flavor and a good chew," said one. It was too grainy for others.
Shopping information $3.39 for a 16-ounce bag from Winn-Dixie. $1.02 for a 4-ounce box from Target. $3.59 for a 12-ounce pouch from Publix.
Product/serving Lundberg Wild Blend

One-quarter cup, dry

Rice-a-Roni Long Grain & Wild

One-quarter cup, dry

Canoe White 'n Wild

One-quarter cup, dry

Calories Fat / Fiber / Sugars / Sodium Carbohydrates / Protein 150 1.5g / 3g / 0g / 0mg 35g / 4g 190 .5g / 1g / 2g / 780mg 43g / 5g 160 0g / 0g / 0g / 0mg 35g / 4g
Judges' comments Judges liked this brand for its flexibility. "It would be a great base for accepting seasonings and other flavors," said one panelist. The brown rice grains were bold in size, color and texture, but a bit bland in flavor. "I would definitely toss in a lot of salt," said one judge. Another said it would be a great base in a soup. This popular rice brand was soft and chewy, brightly colored with a mixture of white and brown grains. "This has the traditional flavor that I am used to," said one judge. Another said he liked the moderate level of seasonings and salt flavor and the ratio between the white and brown rices. Picky eaters might like this the best, panelists agreed. Rich colors gave Canoe's rice an edge in our tasting. Judges liked the base of the rice dish, saying they would add more seasonings and some herbs for texture. "It's already got a nutty flavor and a good chew," said one. It was too grainy for others.
Shopping information $3.39 for a 16-ounce bag from Winn-Dixie. $1.02 for a 4-ounce box from Target. $3.59 for a 12-ounce pouch from Publix.
ALSO SAMPLED: Uncle Ben's Long Grain & Wild Rice ($1.92 for a 6.2-ounce box from Target); Haddon House Extra Fancy Cultivated Wild Rice ($4.99 for an 8-ounce box from the Fresh Market); Near East ($2.54 for a 6-ounce box from Target); Fall River Wild Rice ($5.99 for a 10.5-ounce pouch from the Fresh Market); Gourmet House Minnesota Quick Cooking Wild Rice ($2.79 for a 3-ounce box from Target); and Vigo Long Grain White & Wild Rice ($1.89 for an 8-ounce pouch from Publix).

PANELISTS: Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Kay Hodnett-Bell, personal chef; Janet Peterson, consumer; and Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island. All panelists tasted the rices while blindfolded.

Taste test: Wild rice 11/19/10 [Last modified: Friday, November 19, 2010 3:30am]

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