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Sweet Success for New Rice-Blend Products

About 5 years ago, consumers got their first taste of a rice batter developed from Agricultural Research Service patented technology. The rice batter absorbs less oil than other batters used for frying and baking.

Now, consumers can enjoy three new rice-based products that are bound to satisfy their sweet tooth.

CrispTek LLC, the company that sells the rice batter under the brand name Choice Batter, has released mixes for double chocolate chip brownies, chocolate chip cookies, and lemon poppyseed muffins. These new products can be found across the country at more than 1,500 stores, such as Whole Foods, HEB, and Grocery Outlet, and online.

In 2008, CrispTek founder Wayne Swann learned about the ARS-patented special blend of rice flours, developed by chemists Frederick Shih (retired) and Kim Daigle in the ARS Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research Unit, New Orleans, Louisiana. Swann, who was then a business teacher at Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland, and some of his students saw the commercial potential for a product—Choice Batter. About a year later, they obtained a license for the technology and signed a cooperative research and development agreement with ARS.

“Our goal was to develop a rice blend that reduces the amount of oil absorbed into the batter when fried, while allowing foods to maintain flavor and crispness,” Daigle says. “It can also be used for grilling and baking.”

Nutritionally and functionally, rice ingredients are equal or superior to traditional wheat-based counterparts, Shih says. “Our research has shown that rice-based batters absorb substantially less oil during frying—50 percent less oil than traditional wheat batters.”

“The batter tastes like typical fry batter, except it’s crispier; it’s not as oily or greasy,” Swann says.

“Rice ingredients also are gluten free, which is particularly important for people who have celiac disease—a condition in which certain people have an autoimmune reaction to proteins found in wheat,” Shih adds. Over the years, Shih and Daigle have developed a series of low-fat-uptake and gluten-free food products.

“We started our company with the original frying batter and developed recipes for baking as well as for making soups, sauces, and different meals,” Swann says. The frying and baking mix has been available longer, so it has a higher number of sales, he says. But the new double chocolate chip brownie mix is quickly becoming the most popular.

All products are easy to make and can be eaten by everyone in the family, he adds. They’re free of the eight most common food allergens, and they have no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, Swann says.

“We continue to work with ARS scientists in New Orleans to improve and develop new products,” Swann says. “Our company was formed based on their technology, and we’ve had a fabulous cooperation. So it’s not a matter of what this technology means to our company. The technology is the company.”—By Sandra Avant, ARS Office of Communications.

Sweet Success for New Rice-Blend Products” was published in the June 2016 issue of AgResearch Magazine.

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Key Facts

  • ARS scientists developed rice-blend flours for baking.
  • New rice-flour products include cookie, brownie, and muffin mixes.
  • The rice-based products are free of common allergens.

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