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Mar 3, 2009 11:31 AM

arborio rice --risotto

Trader Joes, my go-to store, has discontinued their arborio rice. I make a lot of risotto but have never really paid attention to the rice since this was available and convenient. Now I see that there are options galore out there. Does the brand make much difference? I have several regular grocery stores close by and make a trek to Whole Foods every few weeks. Any advice?

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  1. Arborio rice, originally a product of specific regions of Italy, is now grown in other parts of the world; principally California. It is special for it size, shape, starch content, aroma, etc.. I haven't found any identifiable difference from one brand of Arborio rice to another. I get it at the local supermarket and sometimes, when I just need a small amount, I dig it out of one of those bulk dispensers where you fill your own plastic bag with whatever amount you need.

    1. i make risotto at least once a week with a variety of different brands depending on what ever I happen to have in the pantry. I'm sure there are those that would say there is a discernible difference in brands, where they were grown, etc but I'm just not that much of a gourmet/gourmand to be able to tell the difference.

      Very surprising to me that TJ's would discontinue what I'm sure many consider to be a pantry staple.

      You may want to look for Carnaroli or Vialone Nano - those are also short grained similar to arborio

      1. I use only Carnaroli rice, it produces a nice creamy risotto without giving up the individual grain's identity.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Lenox637

          How is the texture different from arborio? Does it hold more liquid?

          1. re: alwayscooking

            I'd have to consult a food scientist to be certain of my numbers, but I recall the difference between carnaroli and arborio is the amount of starch that can be drawn from the grain, and it is just a matter of degree.
            I think you can extract 36% of the starch from aborio before it falls apart and carnaroli can lose 42%- the result is a "creamier" risotto that still has distinct grains.

            1. re: lunchbox

              Arborio and caranroli are low amylose (a type of starch starch) rices. Rices have similar amounts of starch. Low amylose (and higher proportions of complementary starche(es)) is characteristic of the stickier Japonicas used for risotto.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                Thanks Sam and lunchbox - I'll hunt up the caranroli when next I'm out of arborio.

            2. re: alwayscooking

              Carnaroli is very similar to the rice called Bomba from Spain, the best paella rice. While for me arborio goes from chalky center to overcooked almost instantly, carnaroli has a longer sweet spot and keeps its perfect cooked texture far longer. It is the only risotto rice l use as well. Have never noticed brand differences.

          2. Arborio (named after the town where it's grown), in my experience has been the same regardless of brand.

            Other short grain Italian rice that work for risotto are Baldo, Carnaroli, Padano, and Vialone Nano. For that matter, just about any short grain, starchy rice can be used.

            I use to buy brand name, any more it's bulk arborio from Whole Foods.

            1. The only difference you might want to note is the size of the grains - I'm new to making risotto and randomly chose a brand a year ago when I first attempted it. I can't get it now, and found that the one I chose has smaller grains so took a bit less time and broth. not something that should matter if you are paying close attention, but my first try with different brand I ended up with it slightly overdone.