At Cascina Cavallina the cycle of rice cultivation starts in winter
The green manure consists of sowing in the paddy field, between autumn and winter, plants other than rice, such as grasses and legumes so to create a natural fertilizer, which increases the fertility of the soil without adding chemical products.
These plants are buried in spring by plowing, before sowing rice.
The sowing of rice is done in spring, using certified seed that comes from specialized seed companies. The cultivated rice is thus traced from the initial phase of sowing to harvest, ensuring the authenticity of the cultivars and the quality of the final product for the consumer.
The submergence of the rice fields takes place before the summer, using spring waters, resurgences of spontaneous origin: thanks to that, the fields are irrigated with fresh water that will then be reabsorbed in its natural cycle.
The rice harvest begins at the beginning of autumn, when the rice is ripe. The cycle varies depending on the weather conditions of the season and on the basis of the sown cultivars; some of them ripen earlier, others have longer times. Harvest combines are used to cut the rice and to separate the rice grains from the straw. The rice just picked is called “paddy rice”: it is still raw and covered with its protective wrapping called “lolla”.
Once the rice has been harvested it must be dried from the residual moisture by “drying“. In the past, this operation took place in the farmyards, where the rice was left to dry for several days. Today Cascina Cavallina is equipped with a modern methane gas drying plant instead of a diesel oil, that uses cleaner energy and maintains the original fragrance of the rice.
Not all the gathered and dried rice is used for processing: there is a first phase of cleaning from foreign bodies, then the selection of the best grains, which takes place in special alveolate sorters, that recognize the shape and size of the deformed or impure grains that will be discarded.
The best selected grains will be given to the rice mill for processing. Processing is divided into two phases: the first is called “husking” or “dehulling“, which eliminates the not edible outer layer (the husk) and obtains the brown rice. The second is “polishing“: it eliminates the pericarp (a thin outer layer, mainly composed of fibers and lipids) from the brown rice. Thank to this operation we obtain the classic white rice.
During the processing of rice, there is a further selection: the brokers are discarded and only the whitest grains are chosen, eliminating the red ones of the infesting rice and the green ones or with black spots due to bad maturation.
Rice processing takes place just before packaging under vacuum. Only the rice that will be sold in the short is processed; the rest is kept in the form of paddy rice in refrigerated silos that use low temperatures for the optimal conservation of rice, without the use of chemicals.