Heirloom Kokuho Rose® brand – Superior Japanese Style Rice
Background, History and General Information
Over half a century ago, in our on-farm seed program in the 1950s, we pursued the goal of developing a unique rice variety for Japanese Americans. After nearly a decade of breeding trials and refinement, Kokuho Rose was introduced in 1962 to the domestic market as the first premium “medium” grain rice. Unparalleled in appearance as well as flavor, it quickly became established as the favorite of Asian Americans throughout the country. Today, our proprietary heirloom strain KR55 is still grown exclusively by our family. Pure KR55 (aka Kokuho Rose® brand rice) does not thrive outside of a thirty mile radius of our farm – the essence of “au terroir.”
Unlike generic modern varieties, Kokuho Rose is a true heirloom, possessing hallmarks that reject those considered desirable in industrial scale farming. Essentially, Kokuho Rose is slow to mature, low in yield, and tall in stature adding significant effort to its production. To plant our heirloom Kokuho Rose requires a three year commitment to merely produce the seed. We believe the superlative results justify our investments of love and labor.
Since its creation, Kokuho Rose has earned an unrivaled reputation as the gold standard of Japanese style rice in America. Our signature trademark, originally conceived by Koda Farms founder, Keisaburo Koda, remains one of the most widely recognized brands in the industry with a reputation synonymous with the highest quality. Established at inception, our milling standards surpass USDA requirements, averaging 1-2% broken kernels, as opposed to the mundane standard of 4%.
Revered by discerning rice purists for its stand-alone singular character, freshly steamed Kokuho Rose possesses a subtle floral bouquet and complex, delicate flavors. Its slightly sweet afternote stimulates the palate without being overpowering. Popular as everyday table rice for Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese and others, Kokuho Rose is touted by gourmets as their favorite sushi rice. Versatile Kokuho Rose is similarly excellent for other ethnic applications such as Mexican Red Rice (sopa de arroz), Spanish Paella and Italian Risotto. (Many Spanish and Italian rice strains have the Japonica variety in their genetic makeup, i.e. they inherit the unique starch profile that lends a tender tooth to paella and a creamy consistency to risotto.)
Quality and Integrity – Our goals
Our seed development program maintains the integrity of our proprietary KR55 strain. In the seed nursery, we hand select each panicle of rice (the cluster of grains on an individual stalk) and test for kernel size and chalk. It takes three years, or three growing cycles, to accumulate sufficient quantities of seed for each year’s commercial production.
Efforts to ensure that each variety remains pure is in part accomplished by geographically isolating seed plots, thoroughly cleaning all field machinery (tractors, combines, bank-out wagons, trucks, and aircraft), and planting the same variety in a particular tract each year.
Note, the Kokuho Rose® distributed by our trademark licensee, Nomura and Co. is a similar type of rice with our original KR55 strain in its genetic makeup. It is not the pure heirloom strain grown exclusively on Koda Farms. Our original heirloom Kokuho Rose is distinguished by the prominent placement of our Koda Farms house logo (see our “header” which appears at the top of this page) on all packaging.
Note, most domestic Japanese style brands of rice contracted by mega-conglomerates (i.e. Japan Food Corp./JFC, Nishimoto Trading Co. and Anheuser-Busch) are grown by a varying cast of growers and toll-milled at the facility offering the lowest prices. These bland tasting, industrial rice strains are sometimes blended to stretch the supply.
We are a certified organic facility, indicating that our operating procedures and practices are above and beyond conventional standards as mandated by the USDA; additionally, our products are certified Kosher.
- Grown exclusively by Koda Farms since the 1950s
- GMO free (Genetically Modified rice strains are banned in California.)
- Certified Organic or Conventional Production
- Industry norms allow up to 4% broken kernels. Kokuho Rose® averages 1-2%
- Color-sorted for highest quality
- Fat, Sodium and Gluten-free
- Certified Kosher (KSA – Kosher Supervision of America)
Heirloom Kokuho Rose® brand Japanese Style Rice is NOT Generic, Commodity-grade Calrose
Confusion exists regarding the differences between the multiple brands of rice that include the word “Rose.” Less savvy consumers may mistakenly think Calrose is the same kind of rice as Kokuho Rose.
After World War II, Cal Pearl, a short grain Japanese type rice, was the predominant variety grown in California. Two plant breeders, Hughes Williams and Jenkin Jones, co-developed Calrose, a medium grain Japanese type rice, from the Cal Pearl variety. In the 1950s, the Koda family hired Hughes Williams to work as a plant breeder. Mr. Williams brought Calrose seed to South Dos Palos and conducted extensive crossbreeding for varietal improvement. His most promising cross with a Middle Eastern variety tasted much better than Calrose and possessed other desirable traits. Field yields and milling quality were high for that era. In the ensuing years, this strain, known as KR55, was further perfected for the South Dos Palos micro-climate through selection and development for varietal uniformity.
In the industry, “Calrose” is a coined phrase for the predominant high yielding, bland tasting medium grain variety. The original Calrose was further developed (at the State rice research center in Biggs, CA.) primarily for higher yield. Taste and quality were and are secondary considerations. Many descendents have been packaged as “Calrose” since its initial introduction. The most common variety packaged today is M201. While KR55 and Calrose do share a common ancestor, saying that KR55, aka Kokuho Rose®, is a Calrose variety is like saying that a thoroughbred race horse and a donkey are the same thing. NOT.
KR55 has been used in California rice breeding programs since the early 1960s. (Upon the successful commercial introduction of KR55 under their trademark, Kokuho Rose, the Koda family shared their seed with all the major rice breeding programs in California.) Today, any medium grain Japanese type rice grown in California that calls itself “premium” has the KR55 strain in its lineage. For example, the variety M401, is a KR55 descendent packaged as Nishiki brand produced by JFC and likewise, Tamaki’s Medium Grain Sushi Rice.
Note: In plant breeding, it is said that if a person develops one successful variety, then his career is a huge success. KR55 is now approximately fifty-five years old. The most highly regarded variety in Japan, Koshihikari (short grain) is about fifty-five years old. The other significant Japanese short grain variety, Akita Komachi (about thirty-five years old), is an early maturing but lesser quality version of Koshihikari.