A variety developed in Louisiana and a longtime staple of the Southern kitchen. A long grain rice similar to basmati. Fluffy texture and nutty, popcornlike aroma. Grown and milled in South Carolina. (
Della is an aromatic long grain variety originally developed in Louisiana that combines qualities of regular long grain rice with those of basmati. It plumps up more than the latter and has an especially nutty, popcornlike fragrance.
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.
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