Researchers at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) have developed a method to perform 3D printing by direct ink writing (DIW) of okara, a soybean byproduct generated by the production of soy milk and tofu, without using food thickeners. Despite the high amount of dietary fiber and protein present, okara is usually thrown away during the food making process. The researchers used 3D printing to reuse otherwise discarded okara powders to create texture-controlled snacks.
3D printing is an emerging technology for creating food in various forms designed using computers. During this process, food additives (usually hydrocolloids and food thickeners) are added to the food to enable 3D printing and maintain the printed structures. The use of additives, however, can lead to unintentional changes in the texture and flavor of the original foods.
To overcome this challenge, SUTD’s Soft Fluidics Lab research team identified the specific particle size and concentration of okara that achieves the desired edible ink properties to ensure 3D printability. Their measurements suggest that particle size is an essential variable in determining the rheological properties of okara ink. Characterizations of the formulated okara ink were carried out to analyze their rheological and textural properties.
“Our demonstration highlights the recycling of otherwise wasted food to achieve custom texture properties through 3D printing. We believe that our current demonstrations pave the way for realizing the full potential of 3D printing technology for improved food design and sustainability, ”explained Associate Professor Michinao Hashimoto, principal investigator of the study of SUTD.
“The proper use of these nutritious, underutilized foods would promote the sustainability of the food supply and reduce food waste. We plan to develop more inks formulated with other food waste to enhance sustainability, ”added the lead author and PhD. SUTD candidate, Mr. Lee Cheng Pau.
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Cheng Pau Lee et al, 3D printing of Okara ink: the effect of particle size on printability, ACS Food Science and Technology (2021). DOI: 10.1021 / acsfoodscitech.1c00236
Provided by Singapore University of Technology and Design
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