Curing or fermentation is a chemical and biological process that helps break down tough hulls and alters the flavor of the grain. Curing involves placing the green wild rice in windrows, 4-6 feet wide and 8-12 inches deep, in an open field.
The grain is periodically mixed and watered during the fermentation period to prevent it from getting too dry and to control the temperature. High temperatures encourage the growth of molds and accelerate dry-matter losses.
Curing changes the color of the wild rice kernels from green to brown. Flavor changes considered desirable by some consumers also develop during the fermentation process. In addition, the tough outer hulls deteriorate during the curing period, which facilitates the dehulling process.
The fermentation period normally lasts 4-7 days. However, wild rice may be kept in the fermentation field for as long as three weeks if there is a shortage of processing capacity. Lengthening the fermentation period permits processors to extend the processing season beyond the end of harvest.
The harvest in central Minnesota for 2011 is finished. This year's harvest was described in interviews as fair to poor due to higher water levels in particular during the spring, when the wild rice germinates. The harvested rice converted better than last year, and yields of 48% were reported. Please email us for more information.