Scientists to design deep-fat fryer for outer space
‘I believe I can fry’
Not content with testing the gravitational effect of deep-fat frying food for astronauts, as reported in FoodProductionDaily researchers from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece plan to go one step further.
“We are preparing a patent for a rotary type fryer,” said Dr John Lioumbas, Post Doctoral fellow, Aristotle University.
“This fryer will take advantage of the knowledge we have so far gained from the experiments in hypergravity conditions. Specifically, we are going to produce artificial increased gravity levels (up to 3 * gearth) to achieve crispier products at shorter times.”
According to Lioumbas, the difference in building a deep-fat fryer for outer space compared with the ones on earth is by removing potato surface bubbles by artificial buoyancy, which could be achieved with the rotary style fryer.
“We must first complete the experiments at microgravity conditions, then we have to analyze the results and finally we will propose the basic design parameters of a “space fryer”,” he added.
“The results of these experiments will allow us to gain a full understanding of how gravity influences frying in a range of conditions (form micro to hyper gravity). The tests will show us how we can design a fryer that could be successfully used by astronauts or by members of the public in the not too distant future.”
Food for astronauts
The scientists recently designed an apparatus capable of frying potatoes inside a Large Diameter Centrifuge, to improve space food for astronauts.
As part of the experiment, they chopped potatoes into thin sticks and deep fried them in extra-virgin olive oil, one side at a time, in a spinning centrifuge that created conditions of up to nine times Earth’s gravity.
They found that higher gravity levels increased the heat transfer between the hot oil and the potato, shortening frying time turning them into thick, crispy crusts.
The crust reached its maximum thickness when the potato was fried at three times Earth’s gravity; any further increase in gravity levels did not improve the fry’s crispiness.
“In the future, for long-duration space missions, food must meet the acceptability/preference requirements of crew members,” said Lioumbas.
“Therefore, food preparation processes existing on earth will soon have to be adapted and/or redesigned so as to be performed under reduced gravity and weightlessness.
“To the best of our knowledge, little has been done to address the issue of food processing and preparation in weightlessness.
“Moreover, we thought it would be great for future space colonizers to be able to eat something that tastes great such as French Fries!”