Print me a cookie, please! How KAU is exploring food of the future
A packet of 3D-printed cookies with a dash of cardamom and pepper or cinnamon and cloves looks closer to reality than ever before as the Kerala Agricultural University’s business incubation centre firmly explores 3D food printing using a combination of locally available ingredients.
The incubation centre was looking at several combinations for the 3D food printing project, said head of the centre K.P. Sudheer on Wednesday.
Vice Chancellor R. Chandra Babu said the incubation centre was leading the efforts to build an economy founded on local produce. “Vocal for Local is the motto as we help farmers and entrepreneurs with identifying potential produce, processing, value addition, branding and marketing,” he said.
Among emerging trends, experts say, 3D food printing will revolutionise the way we eat. Automatic food tellers and instant chapatis look primitive before food printers, churning out, layer by layer, the ‘masala dosa’ of one’s imagination with the choicest of colours, flavour, shape and nutrition.
C. Anandharamakrishnan, director of the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology, Thanjavur, cited reports that said 3D printing could achieve a market volume of around $30 billion by 2022.
He told The Hindu on Wednesday that the institute had, over the past two years, identified and optimised printing and post-processing conditions for a range of food materials and food/agro materials.
“We now work on various aspects of technology scale-up and other allied fields, popularising the technology across the country,” he said.
Established in 2014, the KAU agri business incubation centre is backed by the World Bank, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Kerala and Union governments as part of the National Agricultural Higher Education Project and Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana-Remunerative Approaches for Agriculture and Allied Sectors Rejuvenation.
The centre has been engaged in developing new techniques, hand-holding entrepreneurs and funding them through various government schemes.
Its successes include the development of a technique for vacuum frying chips, which ensures product quality as well as enables reuse of the frying medium up to sixty times against the conventional single use.
The centre has developed a sensor-based fruit sorter, a machine to slice through jackfruit, a vegetable and fruit slicer-cum-dicer and a fruit and vegetable blancher.
Other innovations include a bee wax-based solution in bran oil as a healthy coating substitute for conventional products.
The vacuum impregnation method to preserve fruits as well as a technology to make pulp, jam and ice-cream from fruits have been developed at the centre. A method to produce powder from banana stems, which has great medicinal qualities, is a major breakthrough.
The centre has developed a technique to produce gluten-free pasta from medicinal quality rice varieties like Njavara and Raktasaali as well as rice flakes; a mini parboiling machine that can easily be handled by women; retort pouches for long-term storage of food items; and a method for preparing ready-to-eat snacks from dried elephant foot yam and moringa combination.