Nestled between the mountains in the northeastern part of the Golden
State lies the Fall River Valley. With tranquil waters and majestic views
of Mount Shasta, it's hard to believe this serene setting is home to one
of the wildest crops around...wild rice!
So what makes wild rice so wild? It is actually a water grass that originated
in the lakes and rivers of Minnesota and Canada. The part you eat is a
grass seed and is considered a grain. While it still grows wild in some
areas, here in California it's not so wild anymore. That's because instead
of growing in the wild, it grows under controlled conditions. Farmer Mike
McDougal explains how this wild crop gets to your table. "It's not
very different from growing white rice. Wild rice is raised in the paddy
form in flooded conditions."
Wild rice requires warm days and cool nights to grow which makes the Fall
River Valley the perfect place for this wild crop. Native Americans were
the first to discover wild rice growing in lakes and rivers, so it is
known as the only grain native to the United States. Native Americans
parch roasted the grass seeds to create a rich, nutty flavor and that's
exactly how Fall River Wild Rice produces it as well. General Manager
Hiram Oilar took us through the process. "First, we cure it for two
to five days until it gets a sweet, nutty aroma. From there, we parch
roast it for 2 1/2 hours at 210 degrees. The process is similar to the
way the Native Americans did it."
Besides having a unique flavor, wild rice is also good for you! It's packed
with vitamins and minerals. So, now are you ready to give it a try? Here's
a delicious recipe for Wild Rice Stuffing just in time for the holidays.
Fall River Wild Rice Stuffing Recipe
First, boil 3 cups of water. Add 2/3 cup Fall River Wild Rice and 4 tsp.
chicken bouillon. Simmer for about 50 minutes until rice is tender. While
it's simmering, sauté 4 slices of chopped bacon, 1 medium onion
diced, 1/2 lb. of sliced mushrooms, and 3 stalks of celery chopped. Once
the mixture softens, add it to the cooked rice along with 1 cup of diced
apple, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 2 cups of breadcrumbs and top it off with
1 tsp. each of crushed sage and oregano.
This recipe makes enough stuffing for a 10-14 lb. turkey and it's a delicious
addition to your Thanksgiving dinner. Enjoy!!!