CLOSE
Original image
iStock

Scientists 3D Printed Cheese 

Original image
iStock

These days, you can 3D print anything from a house to your breakfast. And as 3D-printed pizza becomes a thing, food scientists are examining what exactly happens when you print yourself some cheese.

A recent study in the Journal of Food Engineering explores how 3D printing affects the structure of processed cheese. How gross would 3D-printed Velveeta nachos be? A bevy of researchers from University College Cork in Ireland decided to find out.

They melted a commercially available processed cheese (think American cheese, not cheddar) and put it through a modified 3D printer that printed the cheese out at either a fast or a slow speed. The cheese was printed out into cylinders that were then cooled for 30 minutes and put in the refrigerator for a day. After that 24-hour refrigeration period, the researchers took the cheese out of the fridge to check its texture and chemical structure.

They found that both the slow-printing and the fast-printing processes made the refrigerated cheese softer and darker in color compared to both untreated cheese and melted cheese. The printed cheeses were much easier to re-melt, likely because the network of proteins inside of them had been weakened. They were less sticky, probably because the oils inside them rose to the surface of the cheese during the printing process.

You can see the chemical structure of the cheese change in the image below. The red blobs are fats; the green shapes are proteins.

Clockwise from left: untreated cheese, melted cheese, high-speed printed cheese, low-speed printed cheese. Image Credit: Le Tohic et. al, Journal of Food Engineering (2017)

 
The printing speed didn’t affect the cheese very much, but it did change the color slightly. The slower printing process resulted in a more yellow shade than untreated cheese, while the faster process resulted in a cheese color that was a little more blue.

In short, 3D printing will significantly alter your cheese. Using what’s essentially a Cheez Whiz robot wouldn’t necessarily make your cheese worse, though. The researchers didn’t taste test their printed material, so we can’t know which cheese was the most delicious. But more melty cheese could be pretty useful for that 3D-printed pizza.

Please enjoy this video of the 3D printer making a bear out of whipped mascarpone.

[h/t Francie Diep]

Original image
iStock
arrow
Food
How to Make Perfect Fried Chicken, According to Chemistry
Original image
iStock

Cooking amazing fried chicken isn’t just art—it’s also chemistry. Learn the science behind the sizzle by watching the American Chemical Society’s latest "Reactions" video below.

Host Kyle Nackers explains the three important chemical processes that occur as your bird browns in the skillet—hydrolysis, oxidation, and polymerization—and he also provides expert-backed cooking hacks to help you whip up the perfect picnic snack.

Original image
iStock
arrow
science
The Brain Chemistry Behind Your Caffeine Boost
Original image
iStock

Whether it’s consumed as coffee, candy, or toothpaste, caffeine is the world’s most popular drug. If you’ve ever wondered how a shot of espresso can make your groggy head feel alert and ready for the day, TED-Ed has the answer.

Caffeine works by hijacking receptors in the brain. The stimulant is nearly the same size and shape as adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows down neural activity. Adenosine builds up as the day goes on, making us feel more tired as the day progresses. When caffeine enters your system, it falls into the receptors meant to catch adenosine, thus keeping you from feeling as sleepy as you would otherwise. The blocked adenosine receptors also leave room for the mood-boosting compound dopamine to settle into its receptors. Those increased dopamine levels lead to the boost in energy and mood you feel after finishing your morning coffee.

For a closer look at how this process works, check out the video below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios