A very interesting stop took us to Pearl Rice Milling Miyagi yesterday where we learned how the Japanese make their famous rice. Rice’s growing season starts with planting in early May and ends with harvest in mid-October when the rice plants have turned a brown colour. Following harvest, rice is delivered to a country elevator, where the processing begins. Brown rice grains are sorted, cleaned and milled by a series of high tech machines at Pearl Rice Milling and then bagged, distributed and sold. Almost everything is run by robots in an effort to reduce the potential for contamination and human error. In the packing room, air is purified to keep the rice as hygienic as possible.
The bi-products of the milling process are bran powder and oil, which is used in a variety of things from fertilizer and animal feed to cooking. Following the tour, we were given a sample of cooked Japonita rice, which is rather neutral in flavour, making it ideal as an accompaniment to an endless number of flavourful side dishes.