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A new frontier in food production: Unlocking the appeal and nutritional value of mashed potatoes for 3D food printing

This article was written by Jorge Luis Alonso G., an information consultant specializing
in the potato crop.

Emerging technology in the realm of food production has given rise to 3D food printing. By building intricate designs layer by layer, this innovative technique allows for the production of complex shapes on demand.

With a focus on freshly prepared ingredients, this technology effectively removes the need for molds, which can be prohibitively expensive for small-scale production.

Personalized nutrition is made possible with 3D food printing, rendering it invaluable for athletes, those seeking weight loss, and individuals managing diseases.

However, creating appealing shapes with the desired nutritional and sensory appeal remains a challenge. Proper pre-processing is critical as it influences food printability, mechanics, and sensory characteristics. The use of novel additives must be explored to improve printability, and when considering extrusion-based 3D food printing, shear-thinning food materials are optimal for pressure-driven flows. The yield stress of a food material should be high enough to prevent slumping. Structural components such as proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids all have unique effects on printability, and additives are frequently employed to enhance the process.

Once a food compound is deemed suitable for printing, dimensional characterization is required to compare the printed shape to the original CAD (computer-assisted design) model to ensure accuracy and fidelity. In addition, shape stability is crucial for characterization.

An objective measure of printability is necessary to understand how different food compositions and pre-processing steps influence print results. Crucial mechanical considerations include rheological and textural properties related to printability. Texture analysis is an advantageous tool due to its simplicity, time efficiency, and affordability for measuring various factors that impact results.

Texas Tech University enhanced the appeal and nutritional value of mashed potatoes for 3D food printing by incorporating protein and lipid powder additives. The properties of printability and texture were measured, and sensory evaluations were conducted to assess taste, mouthfeel, smell, and appearance ratings. The addition of protein and lipids allowed for the adjustment of print fidelity, firmness, and sensory appeal. Increasing print fidelity improved sensory appeal while reducing firmness improved mouthfeel. By adding butter, print fidelity, fat content, and flavor increased, whereas incorporating peas and crickets elevated protein content but diminished flavor.

These results highlight the advantages of supplementing proteins and lipids for creating customized, on-demand food products with appealing sensory attributes, although there are variations in trade-offs in terms of sensory evaluation, nutrition, and printability.

Key Points

  • 3D food printing technology is emerging and allows for the creation of intricate shapes on demand, thus removing the need for expensive molds.
  • Personalized nutrition can be achieved through 3D food printing, making it beneficial for athletes, individuals managing disease, and those seeking weight loss.
  • Proper pre-processing is crucial to achieving successful 3D food printing, and novel additives can improve printability.
  • To understand how different food compositions and pre-processing steps affect printing results, it is important to consider mechanical factors such as rheological and textural properties.
  • Texas Tech University improved the nutritional and sensory appeal of mashed potatoes for 3D food printing by incorporating protein and lipid powder additives. The properties of printability, texture, and sensory evaluations were measured. The addition of protein and lipids allowed for the adjustment of print fidelity, firmness, and sensory appeal.

Source: Chirico Scheele, S., Binks, M., Christopher, G., Maleky, F., & Egan, P. F. (2023). Printability, texture, and sensory trade-offs for 3D printed potato with added proteins and lipids. Journal of Food Engineering, 351, 111517.
Image: Credit Richard Revel from Pixabay

Editor & Publisher: Lukie Pieterse


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