Rice can be transparent (crystalline), semi-transparent (more or less pearly with an inner zone of the grain more white and opalescent) or opaque (not at all transparent). The aspect is not determined by a diverse composition of starch, but by diverse groupings of starch, or, more exactly, by the miniscule crystals which form the cell. Among the transparent or crystalline varieties there are, first and foremost, the varieties deriving from the Indian and Javian subspecies. Italian species are for the most part semi-transparent or opaque, as for instance Vialone Nano. Relating to aspect, other characteristics of rice can generally be determined: capacity to expand, disaggregation during cooking and consistency.
Capacity to swell / Expand, this process is achieved when the rice absorbs the liquid during cooking, the aromas and the condiment. Normally, this depends on how the starch is separated from the grain:this level is increased when the opacity of the grain is higher. On the other hand , transparent rice is usually less absorbing during cooking. Disaggregation, this means the amount of starch released from the grain to the liquid during cooking. Generally, the less transparent varieties are those which contain a higher level of starch, therefore appear sticky after cooking, unlike the less transparent ones.
Consistency, research has shown thatrice containing a high starch level is not necessarilyof low consistency because this allows the grain to expand during the cooking process. In fact, consistency is in relation to the composition of the starch(otherwise they do not have the capacity to expand): itis positive to compare those of% amilosiowith amilopectina, it is one of the two fractions that the starch is made up. In fact, the Carnoli rice, is the only one which reaches up to 25% of total starch, also the most consistent ofits genotypes cultivated in Italy. Following two other varieties, l’Elba and Nuovo Maratelli, S.Andrea follows these with 25% of amilosio(starch) while other rare varieties only reach up to 20%. Knowledge of the above and the characteristics of those listed facilitates the method of cooking. Transparentriceis normally of more compact nature, less ability to absorb liquid and therefore is cooked in boiling water. Indicated for rice salad, rice with sauce, in fact it absorbs less water And tends to be less sticky after cooking. Semi-transparent rice is of medium consistency, it absorbs liquids, aromas and condiment, as it expands less than others it is indicated for risotto and rice cooked in the oven Opaque rice, known for its tender grain, releasing more starch to the liquid during cooking, normally long-grain. Ideal for soup(giving a special flavour)and risotto of the regional type. If cooked in water the end result would not be satisfactory as the grain would soak up too much water resulting over cooked and insipid.