This Space-Aged Edible Packaging Eliminates The Need For Plastic


Photo: Photo Courtesy of WikiCell Designs

If you look at the structure of an orange or a coconut, you generally have a skin that maintains moisture and an outer coat that protects that skin. In the case of a coconut, it’s the shell; with an orange it’s the peel.Like the coconut or orange, the WikiCell, an edible form of packaging invented by Harvard professor David Edwards, provides a double layer of protection around the liquid, foam or solid it holds.    

See the WikiCells > 
You can think of the first layer, a soft skin, like a raisin skin. It’s made of three main components: tiny natural food particles, like chocolate, fruit, nuts or seeds; a nutritive ion-like calcium; and a natural molecule like chitosan (which comes from the body) or alginate (which comes from algae).  

When you mix these three things together they form an electrostatic gel that keeps water inside the food or drink. 

The second layer, a protective shell around the skin, is like the egg-carton packaging. Depending on the kind of WikiCell and how it reaches the consumer, that shell may be completely edible (in which case you would wash it like an apple) or completely biodegradable (in which which case you can peel it off and throw it away). 

The edible shell would be made of isomalt (a kind of sweetener) and the biodegradable shell would be made of baggase (what remains when you remove sugar from sugar cane) or tapioca.  

WikiCells are edible containers of food or drink. A soft membrane holds the liquid, foam or solid inside.

The WikiCell balls are placed in edible or non-edible, biodegrable shells, which replace the outer, cardboard packaging that most food products come in.

In general, the skin becomes a complement to the culinary experience and a factor for nutrition. You can include vitamins and other nutrients in the skin that might not already be in the food.

You can add nuts and other food particles for stability, taste and texture.

The current WikiCell machine can produce between 50 and 100 WikiCells per hour. Eventually, the plan is go directly to the consumer, allowing them to create their own WikiCell creations through in-home vending machines. WikiCells can be produced in an unlimited amount of combinations.

Pear Ice Cream: Almond pear membrane filled with pear juice over ice cream.

Gazpacho: Tomato and basil membrane filled with tomato juice over a bed of vegetables.

Pumpkin Soup: Spinach membrane filled with pumpkin soup over bed of onions and ham.

Lemon Dessert: Lemon membrane filled with lemon juice with ice cream.

Black Forest Torte: Cherry membrane filled with chocolate fondant and morsels of cherry.

WikiCell Ice Cream is being marketed at the Food Lab in Paris. WikiCells plans to partner with well-known brands in the food and beverage industry starting in 2013.

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