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Carolina Plantation Gold Rice
An heirloom variety that
was the basis of the colonial and antebellum economies of Carolina and Georgia.
Long grain, non-aromatic, with a clean, sweet, neutral flavor. Grown and milled
in South Carolina. (more info)
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Considered the grandfather of long grain rice in the Americas, Carolina Gold Rice became a commercial staple grain in the coastal lands of the Carolina Territory in 1685. Its flavor, aroma, texture, and cooking qualities made it much in demand, both at home and abroad; it was the basis of the colonial and antebellum economies of Carolina and Georgia, was exported worldwide by 1800, and defined the Carolina Rice Kitchen, the Low Country’s creole cuisine.
The region was devastated by the Civil War, and rice production began its decline, and after the Depression Carolina Gold became virtually extinct. But in the mid 1980s, Dr. Richard Schulz, an eye surgeon and plantation owner from Savannah, collected stores of Carolina Gold from a USDA seed bank and repatriated the rice to its former home along coastal wetlands around Charleston. By 1986 he produced enough rice to sell. Currently there are 149 acres producing 140,000 pounds of pure heirloom Carolina Gold Rice in South Carolina.
Carolina Gold Rice is unique in its uncommon starch character and its versatility of flavor and application in the many foods of the Carolina Rice Kitchen. Although it is a classic long grain rice, it can emulate medium grain or short grain rice, and can be used to make risotto and rice pudding as well as the traditional rice-and-peas dish, Hoppin’ John.
Store in a cool, dry place.
The rice fields are plowed and leveled in early spring, and planting takes place on a dry seed bed. Gradually increasing the water level in the fields helps the rice grow and also controls weeds. When the rice reaches 5 to 6 inches, the field is flooded with a couple of inches of water. The fields are kept flooded for the entire growing season and drained just before harvest to allow the soil to dry. The rice is harvested in the early fall, the grains air-dried in grain bins and then milled.
Plumfield Plantation, located on the Great Pee Dee River in Darlington, South Carolina, was built in the early 1800s by the state’s governor David R. Williams. Williams built a levee system to protect his fields from seasonal floods. More than two centuries later, fifth-generation farmer Campbell Coxe realized the levees could be used to keep water in.
An avid outdoorsman, Coxe began growing rice in 1995, mostly as a way to attract waterfowl and other wildlife. He started with just 20 acres and planted the heirloom variety Della, a basmati-like, aromatic long grain. At first, he sent his crop to a mill in Arkansas, as there were none in South Carolina, but demand and production increased enough that Coxe built his own rice mill at the plantation in 2002 to process the grain to his exacting standards.
In 2005, he began growing Carolina Gold Rice, a prized heirloom variety that had been brought back from near extinction in the 1980s. Coxe is one of the founding members of the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation, an organization dedicated to advancing the sustainable production of that variety and other heirloom grains and raising public awareness of the importance of historic ricelands.
Carolina Gold Rice
Grown and milled in