Scientists think there could come a day when cup cakes and desserts will be produced by a 3D printer using fresh ingredients.
From a cake in the shape of a snowflake to a ravioli parcel, 3D food printing could become as routine as a microwave or blender, they say.
A Barcelona-based start-up has created one called 'Foodini', which uses open capsules allowing culinary whiz-kids to add their own freshly prepared ingredients.
Its re-usable capsules are made of stainless steel, meaning they can be easily cleaned and won’t retain the flavours of previously used ingredients.
“This is the first version of 3D printing adapted to food. The device takes basic ingredients like flour or water and creates the finished product,” said Emilio Sepulveda, co-founder of Natural Machines.
“If we want to go further and create things like those seen in the movie ‘The Fifth Element’ or the ‘Star Trek’ series where you tell the computer what you want without adding many ingredients, that will take many more years, but we will get there,” he added.
Food can be printed in many shapes and sizes – from as little as 1.5millimetres high for crackers or several centimetres for a tartlet. Printing time depends on the ingredients, the recipe and the complexity of the shape.
But traditional chefs like Chocolate maker Luis Estrada Canal say they don’t feel threatened by the new machines.
“The problem with technology is that the printer can’t really manipulate the food. Fortunately for us artisans, we have the ability to manipulate the flavour of the food. So with machines, your finished product will never be as good as one you make with your own hands, “ he said.
It seems traditional cooking will still be around for many years to come.