Alter Eco™ is the name of a group of products which are traditional, unique, organic, and from eight countries. The rationale behind Alter Eco is Fair Trade, wherein farmer growers can be paid a fair price for their produce which is transformed, packaged, and sold by them so that a maximum of the value added remains in their village communities. It is a commendable idea and Alter Eco products are the result.
Rice is one of Alter Eco’s main products. Produced by farms in northeastern Thailand, it comes in very different colors and textures: white Jasmine, 100% Hom Mali (Hom Malee), Ruby Rice, Coral Rice, and Purple Jasmine. They are unique; differently textured, scented and colored. These rices should stimulate your interest in rice and not just white rice. With over 120,000 varieties in the world, there are a lot to choose from.
Ruby Rice: This is un-milled Khao Deng red rice from the Surin cooperative in the south part of northeastern Thailand near the Cambodian border. Khao Deng has a red colored bran layer which is not milled off. It cooks much like what we know as “brown” rice. A pretty reddish color when cooked, its flavor is nutty yet not “brown rice-y,” with a pleasant firm texture.
For Thai growers, rice bran is male, protecting the pearly white female interior. The colored bran layer, unlike the husk, is an integral part of the grain and comes away gradually as polishing progresses. Polishing is a matter of degree.
Coral Rice : This is the traditional, millstone polished, Khao Deng ruby rice developed in partnership with Alter Eco. Lighter than Ruby rice, it cooks to a light ruddy color with an aromatic scent, nutty flavor, and an intriguing chewy quality. Delicious by itself, it makes a delicious, different starch dish for plainly cooked meats.
Purple Jasmine : This is a blend of two varieties: 60% of purple colored, glutinous (sticky) Khao Gram rice and 40% of scented Hom Malee. Khao Gram comes from Loei province in northern Thailand near the Laotian border.
Traditionally, Khao Gram was planted in rice paddies for good luck and here it is blended with Hom Mali which changes the sweetish, sticky character of the purple rice. It cooks to an interesting consistency which, once cooked, is very successfully reheated by steaming. This would make a delicious base for a poultry stuffing or cooked like a tamale filling with either pork or chicken in a leaf or film wrapper. Invent!
Thai Rice: Produced by the Surin cooperative in northeastern Thailand, this is 100% Hom Mali rice which is the most important rice in Thailand. The only indigenous rice with a natural fragrance, Hom Mali originated in a small village in central Thailand called Bang Klar.
Commercially important only after 1970 when pushed by the Royal Thai government, Hom Mali was standardized in 1907. There are 4 cultivars of Hom Mali and the government has created 3 market classes: Prime (a minimum of 90% Hom Mali), Superb (80%), and Premium (70%). The other percentages can be other long grain rice varieties. Alter Eco is 100% Hom Mali which is rare. All the Alter Eco rice comes in one pound vacuum packed bags with precise cooking instructions on the box.