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Software-controlled food tech: 3D printed pipe-dream, or fatal stack instability?

My goodness that's moist

Peanut butter, Nutella, and strawberry jam represent squirtable media in a demonstration of 3D printing digital cooking, which has led to the odd dubious result.

Food research scientists at New York's Columbia University have constructed multi-layered food items — including cheesecake — in what they say is a breakthrough in more customizable foods, improved food safety, and user control of nutrients. The researchers also believe the approach sidesteps the heating inefficiencies associated with ovens, microwaves and grills and other "traditional" methods of cooking.

Post-doctoral researcher Jonathan Blutinger and colleagues tried to print a number of cheesecake designs, made up of graham crackers, peanut butter, Nutella, banana puree, strawberry jam, cherry drizzle, and frosting.

In a paper published in Nature Partner Journals’ Science of Food, the researchers found the most successful design principles in 3D printing food — which is still in its infancy — aligned with those of building architecture. They used graham cracker as a foundational ingredient, and peanut butter and Nutella as supporting layers in which the techno-bakers could form pools of the softer ingredients including banana and jam.

There's a video accompanying the research, which you can find below:

Youtube Video

A quick scan of the accompanying demonstration video leaves viewers questioning whether the results compare favorably with a first-class Parisian patisserie chef or, indeed, for that matter, a second-round cast-off contestant in a TV baking show.

Nonetheless, the keen gastronomic experimenters said laser cooking and 3D food printing food could help cooks to accurately place flavors within dishes as well as control textures to create what they describe as "new food experiences."

"Digital cooking technologies allow an end consumer to take more control of the macro and micro-nutrients that they consume on a per meal basis and due to the rapid growth and potential benefits of 3D technology advancements, a 3D printer may become a staple home and industrial cooking device," the paper said.

The approach also offers great cost-efficiency owing to the way it uses targeted light for high-resolution tailored heating.

"An industry built around this technology may be on the horizon, creating a new vision of better nutrition, better food accessibility and palatability for many, increasing food safety and adding art and cutting-edge science to the most basic human need — nourishment," the researchers said.

Or maybe not. ®

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