How 3D printer turns yucky into yummy

13 April 2018 - 12:26 By Serena Hawkey
The 3D food printer can turn ugly vegetables into tantalising morsels.
The 3D food printer can turn ugly vegetables into tantalising morsels.
Image: Serena Hawkey

Welcome to the future – where any food you choose to eat can be delivered in any shape you can imagine.

In some parts of the world this is already a reality. Now a Cape Town company is showcasing a food 3D printer that it debuted at this year’s Design Indaba.

Studio H is at the crux of experimental food design‚ using cuisine as a way of reflecting the city’s political‚ environmental and culinary trends.

“At Studio H we are constantly observing the food and technology landscape to see how food will change in the future and how technology influences the way and what we eat‚” said the founder and creative director of the studio‚ Hannerie Visser.

Conserving natural resources is top priority at the studio. As water levels in the city’s dams reach an all-time low‚ it has come up with solutions such as waterless meals that may be needed if Day Zero ever comes.

Visser and her team flag global food security as a concern as well‚ with food waste a particular threat. Feeding the world sustainably is the studio’s ultimate goal‚ and with the 3D printer it believes it is moving closer to doing that.

Plain old Nutella can be turned into a work of culinary art with a 3D printer.
Plain old Nutella can be turned into a work of culinary art with a 3D printer.
Image: Serena Hawkey

Their current project involves giving new life to ugly fruits and vegetables that are too misshapen to sell in a supermarket.

“Ingredients that would otherwise be thrown away because they look unconventional‚ or leftover food that is nutritionally sound but not visually appealing — think fruit and vegetable peeled skins — can now be re-created and personalised‚” said Visser.

Food printing could also be a solution to malnutrition and challenging dietary concerns‚ the team believes.

“Instead of eating something mass-produced‚ one could soon consume something designed just for individual needs and tastes‚ on demand‚” said Visser.

Besides simply practical applications‚ the printer also provides an outlet for chefs to test their culinary creativity with the likes of hexagonal chocolate creations and gelatinous carrot cubes.

- Serena Hawkey is on a study abroad programme with Round Earth Media


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