Taking 3D printing technology to a whole new level, researchers at Columbia University in New York have successfully 3D-printed an edible cheesecake, according to a CNN report. The team produced a seven-ingredient vegan cheesecake that was assembled and cooked entirely by a 3D-printing machine, that too in under 30 minutes. The study was published Tuesday in the journal NPJ Science of Food.
Notably, 3D-printed food has been a reality for nearly two decades but has been limited only to a small number of uncooked ingredients that lead to unappetising dishes.
To make the 3D-printed peanut butter-banana cheesecake, all the ingredients had to be converted into paste-like substances. The base of the cake is graham crackers and the layers consist of peanut butter, Nutella, cherry drizzle, banana puree, strawberry jelly and whipped cream. All seven ingredients were stuffed into the 3D printer and then printed out in layers into the shape of a slice of cheesecake, as per CBS News.
Our @MechCU researchers @blutinger and @hodlipson worked with @CooperNutrition to explore the benefits and drawbacks of 3D-printed food technology and the future landscape of our kitchens. https://t.co/RykD3ef6HL@ColumbiaScience@Columbiapic.twitter.com/HxdoI4yfBh— Columbia Engineering (@CUSEAS) March 21, 2023
It took the team seven attempts before the system created the final cheesecake. Meanwhile, the team has not shared how the cheesecake tastes, only that it is vegan.
Lead author Jonathan Blutinger said, ''Because 3D food printing is still a nascent technology, it needs an ecosystem of supporting industries such as food cartridge manufacturers, downloadable recipe files, and an environment in which to create and share these recipes. Its customizability makes it particularly practical for the plant-based meat market, where texture and flavor need to be carefully formulated to mimic real meats.''
''The cheesecake is the best thing we can showcase right now, but the printer can do a whole lot more. We can print chicken, beef, vegetables, and cheese. Anything that can be turned into a paste, liquid, or powder,'' Mr Blutinger told The Guardian.
Scientists are hopeful that once mastered, 3D printing could replace conventional cooking, allowing food to be tailored to the nutritional needs of children, athletes or those on dietary restrictions.
''Printing food has additional benefits and with more emphasis on food safety following COVID-19, food prepared with less human handling may lower the risk of foodborne illness and disease transmission,'' the study said. Food created by 3D printers could also have an extended shelf life and could reduce food waste, researchers noted.
''3D food printing will still turn out processed foods, but perhaps the silver lining will be, for some people, better control and tailoring of personalised nutrition. It may also be useful in making food more appealing to those with swallowing disorders by mimicking the shapes of real foods with the pureed texture foods that these patients require,'' Christen Cooper from Pace University, who also worked on the new paper said.