French Fries From Rice?
By Jan Suszkiw
July 11, 2001
An Agricultural Research Service
scientist is cooking up a new kind of french fry for health-conscious consumers
who simply can't resist the fast-food favorite.
The fries are made from rice flour mixtures, rather than potatoes. As a
result, the rice fries absorb less fat during cooking, according to Ranjit
Kadan, a scientist at the ARS Southern Regional Research Center in
New Orleans, La.
Rice is also hypoallergenic, nutritious and easily digested, and it stores
well, notes Kadan, who is in the centers
and Sensory Quality Research Unit. Hes part of a lab charged with
exploring new ways of adding value to byproducts of rice, peanuts and other
crops. In 1996, Kadan set his sights on making fries from broken and
immature/thin rice kernels, which fetch a lower price than regular whole rice.
Earlier efforts by other investigators in the 1970s were sidetracked because
of technical difficulties. In 1999, Kadan overcame these difficulties with a
method of processing rice flour mixtures into fries with texture, cooking and
other properties that closely mimic potato fries. Details of Kadans
research leading up to the process will appear in upcoming issues of the
Journal of Food Science.
In tests, the rice fries generally absorbed 25-50 percent less fat from oil
during cooking than potato fries. Last August, the
U.S. Department of Agriculture filed for a
patent on Kadans process (Application No. 09/645,204). Now, along with
Rishellco, Inc., collaborators, he is consulting with U.S. rice processors on
ways to commercialize the fries.
He also envisions the rice fry as a "functional food," since it
can be fortified with vitamins, minerals, protein and other nutrients. In
related work, he is experimenting with a whole-rice bread for individuals with
celiac disease, an intolerance to the wheat protein gluten that affects one to
two percent of the U.S. population.
ARS is the USDAs chief scientific research arm.