Pulling Out Burger Flavor With A Magnet

If you’re vegetarian or don’t eat beef, you are probably already familiar with Impossible. Impossible meat tastes like beef and cooks like beef while being plant-based. They achieved this with significant R&D and a few special patents. But if you don’t want to pay Impossible prices, [Sauce Stash] has been trying to recreate some of the tricks that Impossible uses. (Video, embedded below.)

[Sauce Stash] starts with the ingredients list and tries to reason what would be suitable substitutes. However, even following the ingredients list, adding iron is one crucial trick that takes your vegetarian beef much closer to tasting like proper beef. Impossible has a special patent process for creating leghemoglobin (or heme), the iron molecule we associate with red meat’s taste. It makes the meat seem to bleed as it cooks and dramatically changes the flavor. Impossible genetically engineered yeast to produce the compound to get heme on an industrial scale. But they state on their website that the molecule can be found in many plants, including soy. With a magnet and soy in hand, he tried to pull the iron out overnight but didn’t get anything substantial. Unfortunately, the heme is in the root of the soy plant, not in the milk, so it was back to the drawing board.

There are a few other sources: breakfast cereals, black olives (often treated with iron gluconate), and the roots of other legumes. However, [Sauce Stash] took a more leisurely route and crushed a soy-based iron tablet. However, being a supplement, there were other ingredients that he didn’t want in his burger. So he used the magnet to extract the iron to include. After that, it was easy sailing, and he was very proud of the vegan burger he had created.

Creating something that tastes and feels like something else is a complex and tricky endeavor, and hacks like these are always interesting to think about. We’d take texture pea protein over an insect burger, but perhaps that is just something we need to get over. Video after the break.

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Navid Gornall Eats His Own Face

Navid Gornall is a creative technologist at a London advertising agency, which means that he gets to play with cool toys and make movies. That also means that he spends his every working hour trying to explain tech to non-technical audiences. Which is why he was so clearly happy to give a talk to the audience of hardware nerds at the Hackaday Belgrade conference.

After a whirlwind pastiche of the projects he’s been working on for the last year and a half, with tantalizing views of delta printers, dancing-flame grills, and strange juxtapositions of heat sinks and food products, he got down to details. What followed was half tech show-and-tell, and half peering behind the curtain at the naked advertising industry. You can read our writeup of the highlights after the video below.

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Retrotechtacular: Automatic For The People

Throughout their long history, American Machine and Foundry (AMF) have made forays into many areas of automation. And as the American cultural landscape of the 1950s and ’60s shifted toward fast, cheap, and convenient foodstuffs available for consumption inside of spacious, finned automobiles, AMF was there with AMFare, an (almost) completely automated system for taking orders, preparing food, and calculating bills.

AMF named the system “ORBIS” after its two main functions, ordering and billing. But ORBIS was not completely autonomous. A human operator received orders from a table-side telephones inside the restaurant and intercoms used by drive-in customers, and entered them on an enormous console. Orders were routed to several machines to prepare the food, cook it, and package it in various ways. We witness the odyssey of the burger in complete detail, from punching out perfect patties to their final, plastic-wrapped form.

Surprisingly, the AMFare selection wasn’t limited to delicious burgers, fries, and milkshakes. It could crank out sixteen different menu items, and do so pretty quickly. In the space of one hour, AMFare could produce more than 400 burgers, over 350 orders of fries, or about 700 milkshakes. Even so, collating the orders required human intervention. We imagine that the awful task of cleaning all that expensive Rube Goldberg-esque machinery did, too.

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