Rice is a staple product widely consumed by a great percentage of the world’s population, and the cultivation of it is an income source for millions of people worldwide. Over the years, each culture that cultivated rice developed different varieties of the grain and different ways to incorporate it into the local cuisines and customs. India is known for Basmati rice, the Japanese use a particular short-grain white rice sometimes called japonica rice or sushi rice to make sushi and ferment rice to make sake, Cambodians serve rice banana cake at weddings and other special occasions, Vietnamese and Thai people use rice flour and water to make dough for rice paper used in spring rolls, and the various cultures throughout Latin America, where a wide assortment of rice dishes are served, have their own versions of arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) and other rice and meat/fish/legume combinations. Diners across America may begin seeing more rice served as side items, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2014 What’s Hot Culinary Forecast, which lists black/forbidden rice and red rice as varieties that are trending on restaurant menus.
Rice is more than a main meal or side dish though. Ingredient manufacturers are developing new ways to use components of rice like starch, protein, fiber, and bran and utilize rice oils, flours, and syrups in a variety of applications. What follows is an overview of some of these rice ingredients that can enrich food and beverage products with nutrients, improve textural attributes, replace common food allergens, function in gluten-free formulations, act as a thickening agent, reduce syneresis, and more.
Increasing Protein with Sprouted Brown Rice
Sprouting grains increases amounts of many nutrients found in the grains like B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, fiber, and essential amino acids, according to the Whole Grains Council (WGC), Boston, Mass. (www.wholegrainscouncil.org). Rice is one of the grains that is available in sprouted form, and WGC points out research on the health benefits of consuming this sprouted grain such as positive effects of controlling blood sugar, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, and better overall well-being and immune system function in nursing mothers.
AIDP Inc., City of Industry, Calif. (www.aidp.com), promotes its sprouted brown rice protein ingredient, Gabiotein A™, as a nutrient-packed protein alternative to whey, soy protein, and other foods that cause food allergies or sensitivities, useful in formulating foods for vegan consumers, and a cost-effective protein source. Two groups are driving the rice protein market, says Kathy Lund, Vice President of Business Development and Marketing for AIDP. Consumers want alternatives to animal protein for health reasons or have adopted vegetarian or vegan diets, and food manufacturers are looking for ingredients that can increase protein content of their products.
In addition to this variety of health benefits, Gabiotein A also has other attributes to help product developers in their formulation efforts. When formulating any food or beverage product, achieving optimum taste and texture is key, and sometimes adding additional ingredients can negatively affect the product. The Gabiotein A ingredient, which is available in 80% and 90% protein contents, is said to provide a smooth texture and neutral taste, color, and aroma to a finished product without altering the original taste and texture of that product. It also remains suspended in liquid longer than other rice proteins. Product categories that can feature Gabiotein A are bars, powdered shakes, soups, pastas, ready-to-drink beverages, cereals, and sweet and savory snacks. “There is a huge amount of creativity that is driving interest in rice protein,” states Alan Rillorta, Director of Branded Ingredients Sales for AIDP.
Rillorta points to something that he calls “farm fresh” that helps differentiate AIDP in the marketplace. “The rice from our farms that we control comes into our facility and is made into rice syrups and starches while the protein-enriched secondary stream is going to our protein manufacturing facility where it is made fresh into protein at the same time.” He also notes that since AIDP is vertically integrated from the farm to the manufacturing and processing facility, and therefore has control over the farms that grow the rice, the equipment that is used, and the manufacturing facility, “there is no opportunity for contamination.”