America's First Rice
Carolina Gold was once the most popular rice in America. It is believed that this flavorful rice first arrived in Charleston in 1685, via a merchant ship coming from Madagascar. In the 1800's, over 100,000 acres of this crop were growing in the southern states of North and South Carolina and Georgia. Thousands of pounds were exported each year to Europe and Asia.
After the Civil War, a series of hurricanes wrecked havoc on the Carolina rice fields, plus newly invented harvesting equipment was too heavy for the muddy low country. New rice strains were soon introduced, and rice production moved to other states such as Louisiana, Texas and California. Carolina Gold rice production pretty much disappeared.
Then, in the mid-1980's a Georgia optometrist named Richard Schulze was interested in planting rice as food for ducks (he was an avid duck hunter). His research informed him about Carolina Gold and he was able to locate 14 pounds in a Texas seed bank. The following year, he harvested 64 pounds. The next year, 10,000 pounds. And from that time, commercial operations have taken over and Carolina Gold has returned to stores. Charleston Gold is a close hybrid of the original.
- 2 cups water and a pinch of salt
- 1 cup Carolina or Charleston Gold Rice
- 4 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- zest of 1 orange
- orange blossom honey
- fresh, grated nutmeg
Soak the rice in water for 4 hours or overnight. This will speed up the cooking time. Drain the rice before cooking.
In a medium pot, add 2 cups of water, a pinch of salt and the drained rice. Cover and cook the rice over medium heat until the water is gone (about 15 minutes).
Add the milk, sugar and cinnamon to the cooked rice and stir to blend. Over medium low heat, continue cooking and stirring until the rice and milk achieve a creamy, thick consistency (about 30 to 40 minutes).
Divide the pudding into serving bowls (4 to 6 depending on portion size) and chill until just cool. Right before serving, drizzle each bowl with some orange blossom honey, sprinkle on the orange zest, and then grate fresh nutmeg over the top.
Invite your guests to stir and enjoy!