Mix it up

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Batter, it’s just one ingredient that goes into creating top quality fish and chips, yet there are so many varieties and so much to take into account when deciding what to use

David Miller, owner of Millers Fish & Chips in York, is a trainer at The National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF) in Leeds and says batter is one of the areas he gets asked most frequently about when teaching want-to-be fish friers. 

He comments: “On the training course, we have a selection of batters for everybody to try and I say go and choose at least two or three so that they can see how different they all are. I then explain how different batters suit different frying mediums and different areas, and suddenly they realise how important getting the right batter is. You can’t just take a Yorkshire batter down to Devon, it doesn’t work like that.”

David always advises new operators to try a range of batter samples before opening and to hold a soft opening where customers can be asked for their feedback on each one. “Eventually, you’ll get to the one that is right for you and that works in your area,” he says. “There might be two or three that work in that area but then it comes down to your preference and how it works for you because everybody’s shop is different.” 

Bespoke batter

Personal preference was certainly something Harlees took into consideration when it had a bespoke batter created by Middleton Foods some five years ago for its chain of now nine shops across the southwest of England. 

Director Kaylee Herbert comments: “Being a fourth-generation family business, my dad Richard has had a wealth of experience of what exists on the market and knew in his mind what he wanted from the perfect batter mix. From lots of trial and error, we felt the batters on the market weren’t quite how we wanted them. So creating our bespoke batter was the logical solution.”

Taking 18 months to get the batter exactly how they wanted it, Harlees went through several rounds of testing. This included blind testing samples and timed holding. “We also tested how the batter held after cooking in the boxes and the hot cabinet,” says Kaylee. “All of these tests were vital to ensure customers were getting the best product.”

As well as having a product that matches their expectations and that of their customers, having a bespoke batter gives Harlees greater control over making it. “This supports staff in getting it right and helps control quality and quantity. This allows us a greater consistency across the shops,” adds Kaylee.

When Lauren Walker opened Sisters Traditional Fish & Chips in Lincoln, she chose The Yorkshire Batter Mix from Ceres as she felt it was closest to the homemade batters she used whilst working for her dad, Adrian Tweedale, at Elite Fish & Chips as a youngster. 

She comments: “I wanted a batter with a nice golden brown colour, that wasn’t too shiny and that had lots of lift to it. I’d never used batter mixes before so I tried all sorts to avoid that smooth sheen you get with some batters. The Yorkshire Batter was the one that did it for me, it’s just a really nice crispy, light batter.” 

Customers clearly agree with the choice as since Lauren has taken over, fish orders have grown significantly, making up about 40% of sales and becoming the shop’s biggest seller.

“The feedback we get from our customers is that we serve traditional fish and chips,” adds Lauren.

Ceres Batter

Gluten free batter

Finney’s Fish & Chips in Anglesey is solely gluten free and, as such, serves all its fish in a gluten free batter that has evolved over the years. 

Owners Carol and Mike Hulme initially made their own as, like Kaylee, they felt the gluten free batter mixes at the time didn’t give them what they were looking for. Now, however, they have a bespoke version made by Middleton Foods. 

Mike comments: “Having Middletons make our batter involves fewer steps that could involve contamination from gluten and it is tested and certified gluten free before leaving the factory. This is an essential factor to us as we made the choice to become gluten free in 2018.” 

It has also removed a lot of guesswork from their operation which has had a knock-on effect on consistency and also helped reduce wastage. “With the prices of commodities, that can only be a good thing,” adds Mike. 

Whilst the majority of shops like to use a batter mix for consistency these days, The Ashvale has historically made its own batter ever since the ‘70s and still does so across all nine of its Aberdeen-based branches.

While each one can get through two to three pails of batter a day, at its flagship site in Great Western Road it’s more like ten pails of batter on a busy Saturday. 

Using a specialist flour, staff add a touch of Layton’s Batter Powder to give it colour and rise, creating a batter that is unique to The Ashvale. 

“I’m old fashioned I suppose,” says owner Stuart Devine, “but batter mix, when you make it yourself, you can make it to suit. There are times when your oil will be brand new and so you can tweak it to add more colour. It’s just something that works for us and I’ve always been quite happy with that.”


Rupert's Ingredients

Whatever batter you start with, don’t be frightened of trying something else as there might just be something out there that can lift your batter to the next level.

This is something The NFFF’s David Miller advocates, saying: “I always say, the knowledge that is going into batter now is incredible – the science behind what flours are mixed – is beyond what we’ve ever known before so you need to keep your eyes open to see what is coming on to the market.”

This is something Calvin Harris, sales marketing manager at Rupert’s Ingredients, agrees with too. Creating batter mixes for fish and chip shops, he says there is always something new on the horizon as products develop in line with key trends. For example, he has seen a shift towards healthier ingredients, such as whole grains, healthier fats and less sugar, which make fried batter more nutritious and guilt-free. 

“We’re also seeing technological advances – new mixing and baking technologies – creating batter mixes that produce consistent results every time, and new ingredients such as new types of flour and starch resulting in batter mixes that are gluten free, low-carb or high protein,” he adds.

“Sustainability is another area in which manufacturers are increasingly focussing on, which has led to the development of batter mixes made with sustainable ingredients and packaged in sustainable materials.”


Kerry Smart Batter

Looking for a batter that holds up during deliveries? Then Goldensheaf Smart Batter is your answer.

Specifically designed to hold less oil, it gives a crispier batter and a longer hold time, perfect for those longer journeys to your customers’ doors. 

What’s more, because it absorbs less oil, it produces a healthier product with approximately 5% lower calorie content and gives around a 10% saving on oil (depending on the frying medium).
Kerry Foods eu.kerryfoodservice.com/pages/goldensheaf

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