Vacuum Processing of Wheat in Space 972362

The challenge of food provision in a human-tended Lunar/Martian base necessitates the development of stable, nutritious and palatable foods from limited plant sources. The ability to safely prepare and store a wide variety of foods having physiological and psychological acceptability, with a limited number of starting materials, plays a prime role in the success of long-term missions. Since wheat has been proposed as one of the major crops to be grown on space outposts, this project focuses on identifying novel ways to process food products from wheat under vacuum conditions. Vacuum has not been sufficiently exploited for food processing, and space vacuum can be capitalized for selected food processes. Two techniques currently under investigation are vacuum baking and extrusion. Vacuum oven baking minimizes the need for extensive proofing and/or chemical leavening and decreases preparation time. Bread loaves and rolls prepared under vacuum conditions have proof times of 2 to 4 minutes, while those prepared using conventional methods require 50 to 55 minutes. Whole wheat rolls baked under vacuum had an appearance, grain and flavor equivalent to rolls prepared using conventional methods. Vacuum baking of chemically-leavened and yeast-leavened foods formulated from wheat and evaluated under specific space environmental conditions characteristic to the ISS and Lunar/Martian base will be discussed with their potential time and resupply efficiencies.


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