Tag: Argotec

Cooking in space at the Restaurant at the end of the universe

Six month have passed already since the beginning the Futura mission and Node 1, our personal “Restaurant at the end of the universe” has witnessed many space meals, with dishes rehydrated or heated in our food warmer. Usually our dishes are ready to eat or at least very easy to assemble: quick and easy! Did I mention already that my favorite dish is the wonderful quinoa salad with mackerel by Stefano Polato, the official chef of the Futura mission and of Outpost42? But the curry chicken with mushrooms and peas is great as well. They are full meals, healthy and delicious! I took with me a pretty good supply of read-to-eat pouches, but I also have the ingredients in separate pouches: it’s possible to assemble them onboard, although it can be quite a challenge in weightlessness. Take a look!

It’s a bit of work, for sure, but I enjoy being able to change the quantities of the different ingredients a bit to vary the overall taste. I simply recreated the recipes of our chef Stefano, because I’m not a very creative cook. But maybe you have some ideas to suggest for my very last week onboard? Maybe a meal according to the principles we’ve been talking about on Outpost42. Here are my favorite ingredients here onboars, some from my bonus food and some from the ISS standard menu. Why don’t you try your recipe at home and send us a picture? Then we can see the difference making them in space. Or, if you’re prefer, you can create the Futura space recipes in your home kitchen. It’s easy, here Stefano showed me how to prepare them. And don’t forget to send us a picture! (On twitter with the hashtag #SpaceFoodAtHome or if you prefer Facebook just post them as a comment to this post). Power bar with Goji, chocolate and spirulina
Whole red rice with turmeric chicken
Quinoa salad with mackerel and vegetables

It's rocket fuel


Seasonal products

Seasonal products are good for us but also for the environment. Transporting non-local products such as blueberries from Argentina, cherries from Chile or asparagus from Pere to Europe produces large amounts of carbon dioxide. An average family could save up to one ton of CO2 each year by simply choosing to consume seasonal fruits and vegetable. Italy has the advantage of having a very wide variety of food readily available.A change in the habits of Italian households could lead to a reduction of as much as 100 million tonnes of CO2 each year.

Stefano Polato, the head of the Space Food Lab Argotec, is a big supporter of seasonal products. “First of all it is better to behave in a more appropriate and responsible manner towards the environment, others and ourselves. Given that regional products do not travel very far, prices could be much lower. Before you buy something stop to think about the origin of what you are putting into your shopping basket and make sure to read the labels well. Often, even foods you wouldn’t think of at first arrive on our tables after traveling quite a few kilometres whereas similar products are available that are closer to home.”

Many people do not know that fish have seasons as well: “In Autumn and Winter mullet or turbot are best to eat. In Spring and Summer, however, my advice is to enjoy a good sea bass or sardines. In general, seasonal fish most likely not bred in tanks, avoiding issues related to livestock farming. Similarly, fruits and vegetables grown in greenhouses have drawbacks, typically the bland taste due to lack of sunlight.

In general, seasonal foods make us feel better, and contain more vitamins, so it is worth choosing regional and seasonal products like Argotect did for Samantha’s bonus food”.

Antonio Pilello

To know more: http://www.argotec.it/argotec/index.php/spacefood/spacefood_futura

Behind the scenes


Freeze dry

At Earth’s surface, escape velocity (the speed needed to leave our planet) is about 11.2 km/s, more than 40 thousand km/h. Many science fiction writers came up with systems could transport personnel and equipment directly from Earth into space without rocket propulsion. Well-known writers such as Arthur C. Clarke and Frank Shätzing have written about the space elevator – whose complex implementation has been an object of study for space agencies. Once built, the economic return of a space elevator would be obvious: reduced transportation costs and the possibility of launching satellites and shuttles simply using centrifugal force. At the moment, to reduce costs we minimise the load carried into orbit.

In the case of space food, a good solution is freeze-drying, which allows us to maintain colour, taste and texture of products that return almost unchanged, after adding water. In particular, Argotec  hose this technique for two reasons. With a shelf-life of over two years at room temperature freeze-dried food can be kept much longer than using simple dehydration techniques. Secondly freeze-drying respects the characteristics of food and nutritional values. Lyophilisation – or freeze drying – is carried out in a vacuum. Foods are frozen quickly at –30, -40 ° C, then pressure is reduced to the point where water in the food sublimates (switching a from solid ice to steam) by heating it to a temperature of 30° C. Stefano Polato, the head of the Space Food Lab at Argotec, explains: “early attempts at freeze-drying

were done to cater for astronauts but this technique is now used on Earth as it holds a number of advantages for big food companies, especially in terms of convenience in storage and healthiness. For Samantha’s products, Argotec has reduced the mass of her bonus food by more than half compared to the initial water content. Several foods can be freeze-dried, for example natural products such as raspberries (link to the post on avamposto42). Other products must be processed before freeze-drying as is often the case for fruits and vegetables. It can be necessary to add sugar or maltodextrin to avoid insoluble lumps that do not rehydrate after adding water. Argotec selected the best natural products, without any additives, for Samantha’s mission.

Antonio Pilello, Argotec

Read more: http://www.argotec.it/argotec/index.php/about_us/spacefood_lab

Behind the scenes