When can we eat new crop rice in Japan? Let’s eat shinmai during the best season!
Have you ever heard of shinmai (new crop rice)? Shinmai is rice that has just been harvested. Shinmai is available in supermarkets around autumn, and this is how Japanese people feel the season. By the way, have you ever wondered about this?
Enjoy your new rice when it’s ready to be harvested!
When does the new rice season start?
The timing of the harvest of new rice varies depending on the region, climate, and variety. Rice from each production area will be available in stores at approximately the following times.
Okinawa region: From around June
Kyushu region: From early July
Chugoku and Shikoku regions: Late July to late October
Kansai region: September to October
Kanto region: September to October
Hokuriku region: Late September to
Tohoku region: Late September to
Hokkaido region: From mid-September to mid-September
So if it’s from Okinawa, you can already have new rice in the summer! But most areas harvest in the fall.
How long is it called “new rice”?
There is a clear definition of what is called new rice, but there are actually two types.
This is a law to ensure a stable supply of rice, wheat, etc. in Japan. According to it, new rice is defined as follows
Rice harvested during the year from November 1 of the previous year to October 31 of the following year.
For example, rice harvested in September 2020 is considered new rice until the following year, October 31, 2021, and old rice thereafter.
Food Labeling Law
The Food Labeling Law is a law regarding the labeling of products on store shelves. According to the law, new rice is defined as follows
- Brown rice that is containerized or packaged by December 31 of the year in which the raw material brown rice was produced.
- Polished rice that has been polished, containerized or packaged by December 31 of the year in which the brown rice was produced.
In other words, brown rice is called shinmai if it is packaged by the end of the year (December 31) which it was harvested. For white rice, rice that is milled and packaged by the end of the year (December 31) in which it was harvested is called new rice.
For example, brown rice is new rice if it is harvested in the fall of 2020 and packaged by December 31, 2020. White rice is new rice if it is harvested in the fall of 2020 and milled and packaged by December 31, 2020. Both brown and white rice are not new rice if milled and packaged after January 2021.
More like the Food Labeling Law in general!
[Quiz] When the new year comes, which would you choose, new rice or rice with a new milling date?
According to the JAS Law (Food Labeling Law), rice that is milled and packaged by December 31 is considered new rice as long as it is available in stores in February and March of the following year, while rice that is milled and packaged after January is no longer considered new rice.
Here is the question.
If I buy rice harvested in September 2020 (white rice) in February 2021, which should I choose?
(1) Rice milled and packaged on December 31, 2020
(2) Rice milled and packaged on January 31, 2021
(2) Rice milled and packaged on January 31, 2021.
Since rice is basically harvested once a year, both types of rice are the same. In the case of white rice, the taste of the rice decreases the longer it has been milled, so it is better to choose rice with a newer milling date after the new year.
The best way to enjoy tasty rice is to eat it up as soon as possible after polishing (as a rule of thumb, about one month in summer and two months in winter).
- The earliest new rice harvest is around June in Okinawa
- Most areas harvest around September to October.
- New rice is rice that has been milled and packaged by the end of the harvest year (December 31).
- After the new year, choose rice with a new milling date without being concerned about new rice.
I hope you enjoy Japanese delicious rice!