Finding quality organic brown rice in the Bay Area

Moving my Chowhound organic brown rice thread over, just so I can keep notes of the varieties I try, and hopefully one day the thread can be of use to someone. The intent is to find great quality organic brown rice, preferably long grain, available in the SF Bay Area for home cooks that is comparable in fragrance and texture vs the top white rice, like a great basmati or jasmine.

Information from Chowhound thread gathered between 2010 to 2014 below. New info will be added under new and separate posts.

  • Whole foods jasmine: the jasmine is not fragrant. can hardly smell anything. the texture is also less attractive, to me. around $2.3 or so per pound i think.
  • Brands in 99: Chimes Garden. the other was medium grain brown rice. they are ok. wife wasn’t very impressed when she compared them against the WH basmati/ jasmine.

  • Massa’s organic medium grain brown rice ‘The taste is pretty nice, has a nutty flavor to it. The texture is closer to a short grain sushi rice than it is to a long grain rice in terms of stickiness. Soaking it overnight helps making the brown rice softer (this applies to all brown rice i have tried so far). I will buy it again. Given my personal affinity to long grain rice, I will probably mix in half long and half medium when cooking when I get my hands on some long grain, although just by itself the Massa rice is good. Perhaps I will try to make a risotto with the medium grain.’

  • Costco organic Lundberg short grain ’ it was not bad. i actually kinda like the flavor and texture even though i started the search looking for long grain. there is a mild aroma to it. its definitely better than the lundberg long grain that i have had before (not from costco, not very flavorful). the texture is more sticky, but not to the point of a typical sushi rice. the texture is more like a CA medium comes in 11 lb bags. i forgot the exact price. but its roughly $1.1-$1.4 per pound. since its organic, its a good bargain if you have the membership or can shop with someone who has.

  • Lundberg long grain basmati (25lb bag, $6x at WF, $4x at Rainbow)- i ate this for about a year or two after the report suggested that longer grain seems to absorb less arsenic. Fragrance= not much
    Texture= I couldn’t eat this by itself. the grain almost felt like its disintegrating. had to mix in some quinoa to ‘firm’ it up.not comparable to Indian basmati or Thai jasmine.

  • Mogami organic long grain brown (99 Ranch, $7.99 for 5 lbs) from Thailand. Fragrance- non-existent. Texture- feels short grain rather than long, its a mushy mess that doesn’t taste great.

  • 24 Mantra Organic Brown Sona Masoori Rice - 11 lbs (at almost all Indian grocery stores, around $12-14)
    Fragrance- quite pleasant grassy smell
    Texture- looks more like a short grain but tastes like a medium grain. it is fine.
    overall i found the Sona Masoori to be comparable to the Chimes Garden Jasmine, and cheaper.

  • Whole Foods 365 organic long grain brown basmati, 2 lbs- Fragrance- non-existent. Texture- not good.

Recent trys within the last 6 months:

  • 24 Mantra Organic Brown basmati rice- 2 lbs. (~$8). Fragrance- lacking. Texture- alright. The 24 Mantra organic brown sona masoori beats it hands down, and is much cheaper too. Its nothing like a fantastic basmati. no reason to get it.

  • Down to Earth organic brown rice- 10 lbs (~$18). New find at an Indian grocery store. Looks a bit like basmati but its not indicated so in the packaging. Fragrance- lacking. Texture- ok. Better than the 24 Mantra organic brown basmati but still not comparable to the 24 Mantra organic brown sona masoori.

Hence the current favorite is still 24 Mantra organic brown sona masoori. Though there is still some distance between this rice and the top white rice. So the search goes on. The cashier at one Indian grocery store is amused every time when I go buy 4 or 5 bags. But we go through a bag very quickly…!

My wife buys Thai brown rice both long and short grain from … Trader Joes, their store brand.

It’s quite delicious in terms of both nuttiness and texture. Pretty good price too, IIRC. My wife cooks it with a dollop of german butter and kosher salt.

Thanks for this level of detail. I’ve been severely disappointed by every brown basmati I’ve tried, to the point where I won’t try any more. I can believe that one isn’t going to get the same level of fragrance in a brown rice, and really what one needs to optimize is texture/flavour, though I don’t have enough data to be certain of this.

Brown rice goes rancid pretty quickly. I buy a small quantity at a time and keep it in the freezer. I’m impressed that the original poster buys 25 pound bags. Perhaps the lesser quality rice was simply too old.

I haven’t tried the TJ brand. The organic brown I believe is quick cooking, which I haven’t tried but just a little bit hesitant. The regular brown I think is ‘regular’ cooking. The only issue I have with the TJ brand, to me, is the size given the amount eaten at my house.

I am still trying to figure out whether brown is inherently less fragrant because they have the bran and germ, or whether its the specific brown I, and you, tried that are of inferior quality. I would have thought cooking the bran and germ would have ‘released’ that fragrance. I tend to believe the lack of fragrance has something to do with a lack of demand translating to a lack of quality.

Even the good white basmati brands don’t offer good brown basmati? Does brand like Tilda have brown?

I haven’t had trouble with brown rice going bad. I buy ~50 lbs at a time and the last bag usually gets eaten after a good 3 to 4 months after purchase. Now that you brought that up, I am curious whether they age brown basmati like they do with white basmati.

These aren’t brown rice. How do people like ambamohar (short grain from Maharashtra), surti kolam (medium grain from Gujarat), and kali jeera (baby basmati) rice? I am curious in trying them but 10/ 20 lb is quite a lot for a trial…

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold