WASHINGTON — The Agricultural Research Service developed and patented a new rice batter product being marketed by a Maryland company under an exclusive license from A.R.S. The batter absorbs up to 50% less cooking oil than traditional batters, writes the agency’s Rosalie Marion Bliss.

The batter is being sold by CrispTek LLC of Columbia, Md. Chemists Fred F. Shih and Kim W. Daigle in the Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research Unit of A.R.S.’ Southern Regional Research Center in New Orleans, La., developed the technology.

Named ChoiceBatter, users can mix the dry product with water before coating and frying foods, such as chicken, fish, shrimp, veggies and desserts. The batter can also be used for grilling and baking. The rice flour-based batter is cholesterol- and gluten-free, Kosher and available over the Internet for the first time this month.

Developers point out that rice-based flours have the unique property of being resistant to oil uptake, according to A.R.S. The new batter is based on a recipe of long-grain rice flour and small amounts of other specially modified rice ingredients, and absorbs only about half as much oil during frying than wheat batters.

CrispTek received funding from the Maryland Technology Development Corporation during a showcase sponsored jointly by T.E.D.C.O. and U.S.D.A. late last year to help further commercialize the product. The company’s goal is to help consumers reduce the amount of fat and oil they consume.

The technology was developed as part of the A.R.S. National Research Program "Quality and Utilization of Agricultural Products," which includes projects to meet consumer needs through the development of value-added food products and processes.