Technology refers to application of science to practical life i.e. to transform scientific laws into machines and devices to manipulate the environment and achieve the tangible ends. Since the earliest stages of agriculture, technologies have been developed for production, processing and storage of food. Due to farmers' innovative activities many farming styles and emerged that are best suited to the farmer as well s the local environment. New technologies are coming up every day that help increase the production and also increases the shelf life of the food stuff; may be raw or processed.
Food technologies - processing food for safety, convenience and taste
Salting and drying are two of the earliest methods of treating foods to help preserve freshness and improve flavor. Over the years, improved techniques for processing foods have resulted in the expansion of our food supply by prolonging keeping times, preventing spoilage and increasing the variety of food products available.
Extrusion - new shapes and textures
Snack foods, breakfast cereals, confectionery and even some pet foods have been produced from a method of food processing known as extrusion. It basically involves compressing food into a semi-solid mass, and then forcing it through a small aperture to increase the variety of texture, shape, and color obtainable from a basic food ingredient. The technique has given rise to products with hitherto unknown shapes and textures. Extrusion can form and sometimes even cook raw ingredients into finished products.
New and creative products
Snacks are one of the fastest-growing segments of the food industry, and extrusion is already established as a means of producing new and creative products. Most cereals can be extruded, and cereal-based products, such as breads, breakfast cereals and cakes can be processed in this way. Extrusion can also be used to make pet foods. A particularly promising application of extrusion is in the processing of Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP). This is basically soya flour that has been processed and dried to give a substance with a sponge-like texture that may be flavored to resemble meat. Soya beans are dehulled and their oil extracted before being ground into flour. This flour is then mixed with water to remove soluble carbohydrate and the residue is textured by extrusion. This involves passing heated soya residue from a high-pressure area to a reduced pressure area through the die, resulting in expansion of the soya protein. It is then dehydrated and may either be cut into small chunks or ground into granules. With extrusion techniques good quality meat analogues can be produced from TVP and mycoprotein (protein obtained from fungi). TVP is also being used in the development of some functional foods where the potential health benefits of soya protein are sought.