Monday, March 8, 2010


Conrad Rice Mill of New Iberia is 98 years old. It is the oldest continuous operating rice mill in the United States. Quite a feat for a relatively small family business competing with Uncle Ben, Cal-Rose and other brands.  Their rice products and seasonings are sold under the name Konriko.


The company bags rice in a plastic woven bag choosing it over gunny sacking. The machines at Conrad are still the belt driven equipment from 1912, now powered by electricity, replacing steam.  I was surprised that no one in the Louisiana rice industry, supposedly, had ever heard of a rice-straw bale house. At last count in Calaveras County, we have 13 rice-straw buildings. but it was all news to our hostess and others taking the tour. 
Having just visited a similar rice mill in Thailand, where nothing is wasted, I found Konriko only sells their rice bran for animal feed, the healthiest part of the rice. They toss the hulls or give it away for compost. Hmmm! There must be a message here! 

This funky ancient sewing machine sews those bags closed. Operated by hand, each bag is sewn across the top and sealed by a person, not a machine. Two more modern, smaller bag machines automatically fill and seal lightweight plastic bags in one operation.

When we arrived, we were escorted into a room for a slide show while our hostess cooked up some yellow saffron rice and wild pecan rice. Tasting these two blends of delicious rice with various spices, syrups and condiments sprinkled on them was new to me. Besides tasting, the store itself is worth a visit. Rough plank flooring, old wooden bins- a step back in time.
Their products are available just about anywhere, but one "secret sauce" was only available at the store. Everyone was raving about it. I liked it but the chipotle cajun seasoning was my favorite and I served up some Konriko Wild Pecan Rice for dinner last night. Good stuff! Friendly, accommodating staff. 

The wild pecan rice has no pecans in it. Customers gave it that name many years ago because it has a nutty flavor and was described as smelling like pecan. The rice is brown but treated in such a way  that it cooks as fast as white. Their products are available on-line as well. 

No comments: