Santiago, Chile (AFP) Some dried “cochayuyo” seaweed, some mashed potatoes, and hot water: These are the ingredients for a nutritious menu of 3D-printed foods that Chilean nutritionists hope will revolutionize the food market, especially for children.
With a 3D food printer and a recent twist on the traditional use of cochayuyo, an algae commonly found in Chile, New Zealand and the South Atlantic, Roberto Limos, a professor at the University of Chile and several students have been able to create nutritious, nutritious products with edible characters they hope kids will love.
Figures of Pokemon, or any type of animal imaginable, are fed into the 3D printer, along with the gelatinous mixture, and the food is “printed” after seven minutes.
“We’re looking for different personalities, fun personalities…visual, colours, taste, flavors, smells,” Lemos said.
But he stressed that the main focus is on nutritional content. “The product should be of high nutritional value to people, but it should also be tasty,” he said.
3D food printers are expensive, with costs ranging from $4,000 to more than $10,000, but Lemus hopes that as technology advances, their cost will drop and reach more people.
Technology is developing in the culinary field in dozens of countries, and 3D food printers are used to design sweets, pasta and other foods.
NASA actually tested it in 2013 with the idea of expanding the range of foods astronauts eat in space.
Chile is making headway with cochayuyo seaweed, one of the typical ingredients of coastal country cuisine, and it’s rich in amino acids, minerals and iodine, according to Alonso Vasquez, a 25-year-old graduate student writing his thesis on the topics.
A young researcher takes dried cochayuyo, cuts it and grinds it to make cochayuyo flour and then mixes it with mashed potato powder.
He then adds hot water to the mixture to form a colloidal gel and feeds it into the printer.
“It occurred to me to use potatoes and rice flour, all of which contain a lot of starch. The starch of these raw materials combined with cochayuyo alginate is what generates stability in 3D printing,” he says, waiting for the printer to finish creating a pikachu shape of about 2cm ( less than an inch) and the taste of mashed potatoes and sea.
The project has been underway for two years and is still in its infancy, but the idea is to apply ingredients like edible flowers or edible dyes to the menu to make it more appealing to children.