With more and more youngsters becoming fans of cooking shows, from “Chopped Junior” to “Cupcake Wars,” it stands to reason that high schools are expanding their course offerings of baking and cooking classes. These classes not only teach students the basics of cooking, but they also expose them to the intricacies of food design. As a result, high schools might find a natural home for laser cutters within their family and consumer science curriculum, or what was formerly known as home economics.
The laser is a uniquely qualified tool for students interested in learning techniques to create dishes with an impressive presentation. Lasers are excellent for marking, and this can include laser-etching branding, logos or other information onto food. Laser cutting and engraving food is a highly detailed and controlled burning process, so the student or instructor must closely monitor speed and power. Many different foods are suited for use with this technology, from more traditional tastes to the esoteric. Here are just a few examples:
A 75 W Epilog Fusion laser can engrave a pie using the following recommended settings: 100% power, 30% speed, 300 dpi, Jarvis dithering, engraver just slightly out of focus and auto-focus turned off.
Cookies can also be embellished with the laser — for best results, a layout sheet should be created to ensure that the images will be centered within the cookies.
Often used as the basis for personalized party favors, chocolate bars present another unique “canvas” for laser engraving.
Personalized pancakes, anyone? After your cakes are cooked, you can use the laser to etch a design or logo can on top!
A laser-cut pattern on sushi rolls offers a unique take on eating raw fish. The repetitive pattern should fit the seaweed wrap or nori, and be proportionate to the size of the rolls. Power should be set on low with standard speed to mitigate the risk of fire or charring. Placing a piece of paper above or below the nori will also protect the sushi wrap from laser overexposure. An added bonus to laser-engraved sushi is that less adventurous eaters may be tempted to sample an unfamiliar food because they have played a role in preparing it.
Students already may be familiar with a practice known as natural branding, as it is becoming increasingly popular in the organic food sector, replacing stickers. Direct laser labeling is a contact-free process, so it has no impact on the quality, taste or shelf life of food. The method is also efficient and toxin-free. Fun classroom adaptations of this industry trend could include emblazoning pickles with student names, or apples with the high school monogram.
Whether they are used for practical or fanciful purposes, lasers are becoming a tool that may soon be as common in a high school family and consumer science kitchen as a bread knife — albeit one with greatly increased functionality. The possibilities are endless.
Content sponsored by Epilog Laser: https://www.epiloglaser.com/gs-try-engineering/.