How Do I Choose the Best Wild Rice?

A. Leverkuhn

Those who are looking for the best wild rice should pay attention to how this rice is grown and harvested, as well as which varieties may be best for a specific recipe. Wild rice is a way to get more nutrition onto a plate with a gluten-free, protein rich type of food that complements various meat entrées and other meals. By selecting the best types of wild rices, buyers can benefit from rice varieties that are easy to cook, healthy and nutritious, and free of contaminants.

A wild rice plant.
A wild rice plant.

Wild rice that is naturally grown is generally superior to other varieties. Growing conditions for wild rices are often part of the overall presentation of manufacturers who want to let buyers know that they provide rice that is grown wild in attractive rural conditions. Manufacturers may even provide pictures of the environment of the wild rice as part of their marketing materials.

Different types of rice, including dark wild rice.
Different types of rice, including dark wild rice.

Buyers can also look at how wild rices are harvested. Some of the best wild rice varieties are harvested later in their cycle to prevent the gathering of immature and not fully developed rice grains. Some of those who are experienced in cultivating this kind of food product claim that harvesting rice by hand will allow for more moisture in each grain of rice, which can provide a better result for cooking. Many shoppers also desire varieties of wild rice where the dark outer hull of the rice grain is included for its unique nutrition.

A field of rice.
A field of rice.

The best wild rices are properly dried in order to prevent molding. They are packaged in a way that provides aeration so that they can store without spoiling. Transportation methods can also affect the final result for wild rice that is purchased on the supermarket shelf.

As an additional resource for choosing the best wild rices and products, shoppers can look for food labels indicating superior quality. An organic label can at times indicate a product that is of greater quality. Some varieties are also labeled non-GMO, which means that they are not genetically modified foods. This is another way to inspect labels to get the best desired wild rice products. It's best to buy from a trusted retailer who will stand behind the quality of food products, and provide accurate information about how it is grown, harvested, processed, and distributed to customers.

Wild rice should be properly dried to avoid mold growth.
Wild rice should be properly dried to avoid mold growth.

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Discussion Comments


@fBoyle-- That's true for much of the wild rice at stores, but there are still manufacturers who cultivate and harvest wild rice the traditional way. I live in Minnesota and I know that Minnesota wild rice is truly "wild." People who want to grow wild rice in Minnesota have to get a license and they have to do it the tradition way, as the Indians did before.

Wild rice is also grown in the Great Lakes region and in California. Organic stores and farmer's markets usually carry them. So if you search for real wild rice, you can find it.

I buy wild rice from the organic market. I usually make wild rice soup or salad. It's great stuff, extremely healthy and beneficial.


I saw a show on the history of wild rice and learned that most of the wild rice on the market today is not really wild, but rather a commercialized version of it. I think that's unfortunate because wild rice is native to North America and Indians grew it for many years. I think it should have been maintained and cultivated in the same way as before.


Wild rice is awesome but it should be fresh. Some of the wild rice sold in stores are old, they're not from the last harvest. So it takes forever to cook them and they are not fragrant and chewy.

I buy organic wild rice but I make sure that it's fresh. The dates put on packages can be misleading too because that's the date when the rice was packaged, not harvested. It's a good idea to stick to well known brands that are known for their quality and freshness.

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