Shinmai (New Harvest) Rice: Why You Need to Try It
There's a new Japanese rice in town, and it's called Shinmai, or New Harvest, Rice. This premium rice has been gaining popularity among Japanese food lovers in the United States, and for a good reason. Shinmai is one of the most prized rice products, offering some of the most notable characteristics of this abundant grain through its freshness. Today, the rice experts at the rice factory NEW YORK are here to tell you all about “shinmai” and why you need to add it to your rice-tasting list.
What is Shinmai (New Harvest) Rice?
While Shinmai is not a grain variety of its own, it is a specific type of new rice characterized by the stage at which it is harvested and packaged. Some other popular types of Japanese rice are:
- kome - plain, uncooked rice
- genmai - brown rice
- sakamai - sake rice
- kodaimai - ancient rice
- gaimai - foreign rice
So, what makes shinmai rice "new"?
Think of shinmai as "young" rice that has been processed and packaged in the same year or season that it was harvested. Typically, this means that it is packaged for sale by the end of that calendar year. This freshness gives it a remarkably sticky, glossy, and white quality, along with higher water content. As a result, you can use less water to cook it. This particular form of Japanese rice is enjoyed as a celebration of the harvest in Japan.
What's so special about new rice?
Flavor & Characteristics
Like most people, you might think that rice is just one of those dry goods that can stay on your shelf for years, always retaining the same taste. However, rice sommeliers will tell you that there are distinct flavor characteristics between new and old rice. Generally, new Japanese rice is sweeter, stickier, and contains more moisture than its ancient counterpart. In addition, new Japanese rice is bright and glossy, while older Japanese rice has a yellowish hue and an unmistakable smell from its oxidation process.
Texturally speaking, the difference between the two types is quite apparent; new Japanese rice is characterized by its softness, whereas old Japanese rice is flatter with more body—making it ideal for dishes like fried or pilaf rice or sushi.
While Japanese rice is generally harvested earlier in the south of the country and later in the north, there is an excellent variety across Japanese farms, resulting in many different kinds of rice. Each type of rice grows at its own rate, so farmers must keep track of their unique harvest schedules. The rice varieties that are harvested early are considered shinmai rice.
Processing & Packaging
Depending on the climate and the farmer’s personal preference, new rice can vary from machine-dried to naturally dried. Both methods influence when Japanese families can take advantage of their fresh new batches. For example, long-grain Japanese rice grown near Tokyo might be ready for harvest before short-grain Japanese rice grown near Osaka!
Despite modern conveniences like machine drying, farmers still consider climate and variety when bringing out those delicious qualities of each grain. Some families in Japan, especially in rural areas even go as far as to plan their dishes around these ever-changing harvests!
Recommended Storage Techniques for New Rice
Temperature & Humidity
If you want to enjoy the flavor and aroma of new rice for longer, pay attention to your storage techniques! When dealing with Japanese rice—or any other perishable food for that matter—high temperatures and humidity are far from ideal! New rice will have a shorter lifespan under these conditions, putting it at risk of infestation and mold growth.
Keep your Japanese rice safe by storing it below 15 degrees Celsius, away from direct sunlight and any other sources of heat. We recommend keeping your shinmai rice in a refrigerator where the temperature and humidity remain constant throughout the year and where it is shielded from direct exposure to sunlight.
Lastly, store different types of food separately so they won't mix flavors and odors! The vegetable compartment of your fridge is the ideal place to keep Japanese rice, as it can be quickly taken in and out when needed. To prevent Japanese rice from cracking due to overcooling, transfer it into an airtight container or storage bag with a zipper and make sure it's away from all cold air vents.
If space is limited or unavailable in the fridge, keep your new rice at room temperature in a well-ventilated, light-free place with minimal temperature variations. Now that you know how to store shinmai rice, you'll be able to enjoy Japanese rice dishes in a new way!
Try New Harvest Rice from the rice factory NEW YORK today!
Whether you’re new to the rice world or a Japanese culinary connoisseur, shinmai rice is a beautiful staple to add to your next Japanese meal.
Currently, you can get "shinmai" at the rice factory NEW YORK!
Check our rice marked "2022 crop" on our online store, we have some popular varieties are available.
The rice factory NEW YORK is proud to offer plenty of new harvest rice grown in the Japanese countryside every season.
To hear about the best shinmai varieties as they come in, subscribe to our newsletter. We strive to provide your table with the freshest rice, carefully harvested and stored under the best conditions.
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