When you’re a parent, you’re constantly worried about what type of foods your child is eating. Parents often concern themselves with providing their children with a healthy diet so they can grow up to be strong, healthy adults.
To that end, many parents wonder about feeding their children anything that may be harmful for their development, which means making sure that they aren’t exposed to things like alcohol. And while normally parents don’t have to worry about their kids drinking a can of beer, many wonder about the safety of foods that use alcohol as one of their ingredients, such as beer-battered fish.
In this article, we’ll touch on what beer battering actually is and if it’s safe for your child to consume fish that has been beer battered.
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There are many recipes out there that call for alcohol as an additional ingredient. Things like beer, wine, and vodka are used in a variety of things like batters, stocks, and soups to give them an added depth of flavor.
While it may seem intimidating from the name, in general, foods prepared with alcohol are safe for your child to consume, and this is true as well for beer-battered fish.
In the following sections, we’ll talk about:
- What beer battering is,
- Why it’s done, and
- What makes it safe for people of all ages to enjoy
By the end, you should have a much more solid understanding of beer batter in every aspect.
What Beer Battering Is
What makes beer such a great base for batter is that it adds three specific ingredients that lead to the production of a light, crispy crust: carbon dioxide, foaming agents and alcohol.
Beer is also saturated with carbon dioxide. Unlike most solids that dissolve better in hot liquids (like salt and sugar), gasses like CO2 dissolve better at lower temperatures.
When you put beer into a batter mix, and then when the batter hits hot oil, the bubbles froth up and expand the batter mix more slowly, inevitably leading to the famous crispy texture that beer-battered items like fish are known for.
Not only does beer have the chemistry to produce that iconic crispy crust, using beer in food also helps to add a depth of flavor that is sometimes lacking in other foods.
It’s great for using as a marinade, as the CO2 helps to tenderize meat. For baking, roasting, or broiling, beer can be used as a basting liquid to help impart a rich color and highlight particular flavors. It can even be used in place of water as a simmering liquid to bring out the richness of meat and vegetables in a different way!
When it comes to baking and battering, however, beer is the ultimate ingredient.
As we now know, it’s the carbon dioxide in beer that helps give batters made with it a leg up in the crisp department, but it can also be used to add in a variety of baked goods like biscuits, pancakes, cakes, and bread to add a touch of both lightness and fluffiness.
What Makes It Safe?
While it can be frightening to give your child anything that has the word “beer” in it, as long as it’s not served in a glass, you’re probably safe giving it to your child!
This is because most beers have a low alcohol content to begin with and, when used in cooking, most of the alcohol cooks out of the beer itself, leaving only the other ingredients present in the beer to impart flavor and—when baking or frying—a certain kind of lightness and crispness.
So even though something is “beer battered,” by the time it’s finished cooking, there is virtually no alcohol left in the final product.
So, at the end of the day, the verdict is: YES. Kids can eat beer-battered fish (or really anything with beer as an added cooking ingredient) without concern!
While it may be unnerving to serve your child something that you know has been prepared with alcohol, when it comes to beer-battered fish, the biggest threat is in the name itself.
Beer isn’t used in cooking to get people drunk, rather it’s used to impart specific flavors and to help add a certain je ne sais quoi to dishes.
For battering and baking in particular, beer is utilized not so much because of its alcohol content, but because of its chemistry! It’s the carbon dioxide in beer that helps batters acquire a certain kind of light, crispy crust when fried, and it’s for this reason that cooks use it when serving a variety of fried items like onion rings, vegetables, and, of course, fish.
So, go ahead and order that beer-battered fish and chips for your kid the next time you’re out. You have nothing to be worried about, and they’re bound to love it!