Most rice sold as “wild rice” is not wild at all, says soupkitten. Rather, it’s a crossbred product with genuine wild rice as a genetic parent. The properties of real wild rice make it impossible to grow in paddies and harvest mechanically. Crossbred strains are cultivated and sold as wild rice.
It’s too bad, because the taste of genuine wild rice is incredible. The flavor of cultivated “wild” rice is a pale shadow of its truly wild cousin, says AnneInMpls. Other Chowhounds who have tried genuine wild rice agree. “[M]uch as I like cultivated wild rice, the truly wild stuff is much better,” says alanbarnes.
Luckily, though, you can still get some authentic wild rice—hand-harvested from lakes in Minnesota. Order through Heritage Foods ($28 for two pounds), or from Native Harvest ($10 per pound), whose rice is “hand-harvested by tribal members using traditional methods.” Native Harvest also sells wild rice flour, wild rice fry bread mix, and wild rice pancake mix.