Long-grain Carolina Gold Rice became the basis of the economy in the Carolinas and Georgia when it was introduced into America in the 17th century. With a superior flavor, aroma, texture and cooking qualities (and a beautiful golden hue in the fields), the variety made fortunes for its producers and created an influential culture and cuisine in the city of Charleston.
By the late 18th century, it was being exported worldwide. The wealth associated with its success and the blend of diverse ethnicities—Italian, African and Native American—working to produce the rice led to the development of the Carolina Rice Kitchen, North America’s first complete and distinct regional Creole cuisine. After the Depression, new varieties took over and Carolina Gold rice became virtually extinct. Today it is at the center of sustainable recovery programs and has boarded Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, a catalogue of at-risk high-quality products from around the world.
The variety has exceptional nutritional qualities, subtle aromas and flavors of green tea, nutty almond and flowers and a chewy texture. Because of its unique starch composition, although it is a classic long-grain rice, it can emulate medium-grain or short-grain rice in cooking.
This fragrant rice pudding recipe is inspired by the flavor of the rice and is a contemporary take on the classic rice pudding. If you don’t have access to Carolina Gold Rice, use any short-grain rice for this recipe.
Rice Pudding Recipe
2 ½ cups whole milk
1 ½ cup coconut milk
2 inch knob of ginger, grated
Grated zest of one lime (approximately 2 tsp)
1 vanilla bean, split in two
1 tsp sea salt
½ cup brown sugar
1 ½ cup Carolina Gold Rice (or any short grain rice)
1 cup whipping cream
¼ cup candied ginger
Pour the whole milk and coconut milk into a saucepan with fresh ginger, vanilla pod, the lime zest and sea salt. Heat the milk mixture at a low temperature until bubbles form around the edges of the pot. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture and discard the hard pod. Stir in the sugar and rice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for an hour, stirring often to prevent the bottom from burning. If the rice is still crunchy, continue to cook until soft and creamy. Refrigerate until cool through. Whip cream to soft peaks and fold into chilled rice pudding. Top with chopped candied ginger and fresh slices of mango – or other comparable fruit in your area.
Recipe by Alexandra Emanuelli, Ark of Taste Intern at Slow Food USA
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