During the milling stage the rice moves through a multifaceted process. When rice arrives at the mill, it is ushered through a series of sorting machines, separating the kernels, encased in an inedible hull or husk, from any debris.
The rough rice passes through “sheller” machines that remove the hull. What remains is brown rice, with the bran layers still surrounding the kernel. The grains of brown rice are milled by machines that rub the grains together under pressure. This abrasion removes the bran layer, revealing white or “polished” rice.
Some U.S. mills produce parboiled rice. Parboiling is a steam pressure process in which rough rice is soaked, steamed and dried before milling. Milled white rice, at its best, is made up of clean, polished, whole kernels. Many U.S. rice mills use laser sorters that look for broken or discolored kernels and sort them from the whole kernels of rice.
Technology has enabled the U.S. rice industry to consistently produce a high-quality product. The modern technology employed by American rice producers and millers is, in part, responsible for the reputation of quality that U.S. rice has around the world.
The fact that the U.S. is one of the world’s largest exporters of rice attests to its broad appeal. An equally impressive fact is that about 90 percent of the rice consumed in the U.S. is produced within its borders.