The Ferron Rice Story...
In 1975, Gabriele Ferron recognised that mass production of inferior rice posed a serious threat to the survival of two exceptional varieties of Veronese rice. To ensure its survival he went on to establish and lead a group of rice growers in the Isola della Scala valley in Italy to protect these delicate species. It is Gabriele’s dedication that has ensured that Vialone Nano and Carnaroli rice are available today. We all have great reason to be very grateful to Gabriele as we effortlessly create delicious risotto dishes the Ferron way, using that indispensible pantry item – his unique style of rice. You no longer need to stand over your risotto, laboriously ladling in your hot stock, and stirring repeatedly, when you use this rice. The whole process is effortlessly streamlined to become quick, simple, and guaranteed to deliver a fabulous result every time. This rice is an essential ingredient for the modern, smart, sophisticated cook.
Ferron rice is grown without the use of chemical fertilisers of pesticides. Instead their rice fields are irrigated with spring water and are full of frogs and carp, which control pests in a natural, organic way. Crops are rotated and corn and medicinal herbs are planted in the non-planting years to replenish the soil with nutrients.
In recognition of the quality and characteristics of this rice, in 1996 Ferron Vialone Nano rice was declared a ‘PGI’ - a geographically protected, quality product. It is the only variety in Europe that carries the PGI quality guarantee and Gabriele Ferron has been knighted for his involvement in this field. We have been lucky enough to have Gabriele visit Sabato in Auckland on several occasions. He helped us celebrate our 20-year anniversary 5 years ago by taking a risotto cooking class. Gabriele is an enthusiastic, passionate, bubbly character who certainly knows how to entertain a crowd!
Ferron rice is very different to the more commercially known Arborio or Vercelli rices. It is not a highly polished rice, therefore it retains more essential starch and vitamins on the outer part of the grain. Ferron rice gives a greater yield and has a very distinct and pronounced flavour. It also has the amazing ability to not only absorb greater quantities of stock but also to retain the classic individuality of the grain.
Carnaroli is a ‘super-fino’ rice, meaning that it has a larger and longer grain. It has a more ’nutty’ flavour, and absorbs less stock or sauce, contributing more of its own flavour to the dish. It is produced in even smaller quantities than the Vialone Nano.
Vialone Nano is classed as a ‘semi-fino’ rice. This describes the size of the grain which is small and oval. Its flavour is full, yet delicately herbaceous. Vialone Nano has the ability to absorb two and a half times its weight in liquid or stock, makes a naturally creamier risotto and is also ideal for desserts - especially rice pudding!