Written by David S. Shields
Originally Published in The Rice Paper Newsletter, Spring 2012
In April of 2011 Charleston Gold Rice, the aromatic offspring of classic Carolina Gold, received approval for production growing — in time for planting in the 2011 growing season. The USDA approved the variety name, and The Carolina Gold Rice Foundation (CGRF) released seed for cultivation. The product of 10 years of breeding and refining by Foundation board member and Clemson University scientist Merle Shepard and rice breeder Gurdev Kush, with growouts overseen by Dr. Anna McClung, Charleston Gold combines the classic gold hulls and wholesome mouth feel of Carolina Gold, with the short stature, disease resistance and productivity of two important modern rice strains. Heeding the global turn in taste toward aromatic rice, Shepard and Kush insured that the grain would have an earthy fragrance similar to that of the best Indian rices. The qualities immediately attracted growers.
Its qualities attracted Jimmy Hagood to enter for the first time into rice planting. Proprietor of Southern Food for the Soul and an award-winning barbecue pitmaster, Hagood visited with members of the Foundation Board who offered seed and assistance on the project. The crop at Lavington Plantation on the Ashepoo River, an ideal rice habitat, proved productive and vigorous. At harvest time, CGRF board members again stepped in to assist Jimmy Hagood and his crew in the harvest, milling, and packaging of the crop. Since both Glenn Roberts and Campbell Coxe had grown the variety, they knew first hand Charleston Gold’s qualities in the field and in the mill. [See Jimmy Hagood’s account of working with Charleston Gold in this issue.]
At harvest time the news of the splendid crop of Charleston Gold found a ready audience in the meeting of The American Food Journalists Association at Middleton Place. Dr. Merle Shepard spoke to the assembly of the creation of the variety. The food writers had the opportunity to see for themselves the splendors of the new rice. The Charleston Post & Courier underscored the importance of the rice’s introduction in a feature article dated October 15, 2011.
The most concrete measure of the success of a new introduction is its appearance on the market. Rice lovers can get Charleston Gold from several sources. Carolina Plantation Rice offers a two lb. bag of 2011 Charleston Gold for $9.32. http://www.carolinaplantationrice.com/store/prod ucts/Carolina-Plantation-Charleston-Gold- Rice.html
Jimmy Hagood tells how you can secure his rice in his article. Glenn Roberts offers a Laurel- scented version of Charleston Gold in the retail product section of his Anson Mills site: http://www.ansonmills.com/rice.htm#goldrice