There has always been a marriage of food and science throughout history. Before modern biotechnology was used to produce desired traits in plants and animals, farmers would raise and breed livestock that produced the most milk or the best marbling. Food scientists also help determine each ingredient’s optimal condition for harvesting, preservation, and cooking. From molecular gastronomy to chocolate printing, science has radically changed how we cook, present, and taste food.
3D printers and bioprinters are revolutionizing the food industry by unlocking unlimited potentials for taste, touch and sight.
3D food printers with specific focuses are already in circulation such as the successfully crowd-funded Pancakebot or Bocusini. 3D printing food does not require any sacrifices in taste. In fact, with the help of several techniques from molecular gastronomy, 3D printed food has the potential to taste even better than regular food. There was even a pop up restaurant London that specialized 3D printed meals!
Texture is a vital property of food that can define the enjoyment and acceptance of a meal. Young children and older adults with chewing or swallowing problems may be unable to eat foods with regular textures. Those with sensory processing disorders may also find it difficult to eat crunchy or harder textures.
3D food printers allow for soft ingredients to reach various stages of preparation: partially for baked goods or full prepared and finished food prints. Food printers are also not limited to extremely soft textures but can prepare dishes that will eventually solidify over time, such as with chocolate and jello!
Food presentation is defined as “the art of modifying, processing, arranging, or decorating food to enhance its aesthetic appeal.” Our first experience of a new dish is generally rated by appearance, smell, and finally by taste. Pureed diets are typically lacking in presentation. Mashed potatoes, oatmeal, and other soft foods have a generic scoop plate configuration that is mostly unappealing. 3D food printers offer a creative solution to texturally unappealing soft foods. With a high degree of customizability, any pureed or ground dish can be turned into a complex geometric shape, or even resemble a work of art. Grandma’s Thanksgiving carrot and broccoli puree has never looked more appetizing (and Instagram-friendly!)
Chocolate printing is an industry game changer, allowing for unlimited customizability, increased efficiency, and elevating education. With a computer-aided extrusion control, skill-essential designs such as intricate geometric shapes and personalized messages will no longer be limited to the pâtissiers. This would bring lower costs in terms of time and production for highly customizable edible decorations. As 3D food printers become more mainstream, highly decorated food art is now within the reach of an average home cook.
We have recently explored into food technology using our very own r3bEL bioprinter. In fact, last month, we hosted a bioprinting workshop focused on chocolate printing. Check back for more upcoming workshops and events on our website. Thanks for reading!