Plant-based food structured by 3D printing: Opportunities and challenges

To provide consumers with high-quality plant-based food, not only is the nutritional content of importance, but also the texture and taste. Many animal-derived food products have a hierarchical structure which can be crucial for the texture, and subsequently, a unique biting experience. This drives the development of various technologies to create plant-based food structures that are similar to that of e.g. meat, fish, or cheese. One of the many promising techniques is 3D food printing.

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Adapting the curdling process of cheese for 3D printing of protein-fortified milk

Dairy ingredients such as milk proteins have structure-forming capabilities and are, therefore, suitable ingredients for 3D food printing. In the cheese-making process, during the curdling step, milk proteins coagulate and form a gel (curd) produced by the action of rennet (a substance typically found in a calf’s stomach). The consistency and coagulation speed of the milk curd can be controlled by factors such as protein content, pH, salt concentration and temperature.

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