This weekend, Cambridge firm Dovetailed unveiled its unique approach to 3D food printing. Using the molecular gastronomic technique of spherification, the firm is developing a method for 3D fruit printing that has the potential to change the way that food printing is looked at entirely.
At Tech Food Hack on May 24, “an experimental dining hackathon” organized by Dovetailed and Microsoft Research Cambridge, the firm showed off their spherification printer capable of 3D printing liquid drops of different flavors into a predetermined shape for the “creation of interesting bespoke fruits.” Spherification works by taking a liquid, combining it with a sodium rich gel, like sodium alginate, and introducing it to a cold solution of calcium chloride. This results in the formation of a delicate skin around the liquid, containing it in a sphere-shape. To better understand new concepts like spherification, it always helps me to watch a video. This video seems pretty helpful, without trying to hard to overtly sell you stuff:
Dovetailed’s 3D fruit printer applies this process to fruit juices, presumably dripping fruit juice combined with sodium alginate into a cold bath of calcium chloride in a programmed formation.
In the case of the image above, Dovetailed has 3D printed liquid drops of strawberry juice into a raspberry-like shape.
Creative Director and Founder of Dovetailed, Vaiva Kalnikaitė, says of the project, “We have been thinking of making this for a while. It’s such an exciting time for us as an innovation lab. Our 3D fruit printer will open up new possibilities not only to professional chefs but also to our home kitchens – allowing us to enhance and expand our dining experiences. We have re-invented the concept of fresh fruit on demand.”
Chief Inventor at Dovetailed, Gabriel Villar, adds: “With our novel printing technique, you can not only recreate existing fruits, but also invent your own creations. The taste, texture, size and shape of the fruit can all be customized.”
If I understand the technique, the drops created through spherification liquify in an eater’s mouth, which does limit the sorts of foods that can be created with Dovetailed’s 3D fruit printer. The picture below from Tech Food Hack also seems to show that the shapes created with the printer are not very tightly controlled, yet.