Coatings build barriers between batter and oil

By Sarah Britton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition Oil

Coatings build barriers between batter and oil
Edible hydrocolloid coating materials can be effective in reducing fat uptake in battered fish, according to a new report.Campden & Chorleywood...

Edible hydrocolloid coating materials can be effective in reducing fat uptake in battered fish, according to a new report.

Campden & Chorleywood Food Research Association (CCFRA) claims that alginate, pectin and gellan gum are particularly effective at reducing the level of fat in the final product when par-frying battered fish. CCFRA says the ingredients' efficiency in creating a barrier between the fish and the oil is related to their water-binding ability.

Alan Couchman, principle scientist at Griffith Laboratories, agrees there is a link between the two. "If water contains materials that gel, then when it is heated you are left with a barrier," he says. "But the idea of trying to reduce the fat uptake of coatings is not new at all."

Griffith Laboratories manufactures food ingredients and provides processors with 'frying shields' -- diluted batters combining gums and starches. "The coating we provide reduces fat uptake by 15-25%, but it's difficult to give an exact figure when measuring how successful a coating is because fat absorption varies with the size of the fish," says Couchman. "To minimise fat uptake in a battered product, we would add a frying shield as a dry ingredient. But there hasn't been the pressure to reduce fat in batter because it is notoriously fatty and people like the grease."

There is more pressure for breadcrumb coatings to have a reduced fat uptake because they are frequently used in products targeted at children, he claims.

In order to maintain the integrity of the coating underneath, Couchman says you have to choose a material that lets the batter or breadcrumbs behave as they would naturally when heated. Coatings specialist Witwood Food Products agrees that the real challenge for manufacturers is to achieve consistent end product quality, with minimal extra manufacturing costs.

The Witwood research and development team has been assessing the ingredients highlighted in the CCFRA research for the last couple of years and acknowledges that they can be used to achieve a lower fat battered or breaded product. However, the firm states that it is the consumer that will need convincing.

"At the moment there's a trade off between reducing fat content and maintaining end product quality -- something the development team is working to overcome by creating lower fat coated products that are also acceptable to consumers in quality terms," says the company.

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