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Winnipeg researchers using sound to make instant noodles taste better

WINNIPEG — It’s a dish served up 105 billion times a year and now a group of Winnipeg researchers are trying to make ramen noodles taste better.

“We are trying to optimize the noodle manufacturing process,” said Martin Scanlon, a professor of food science at the University of Manitoba.

He is heading up a team developing an instrument that uses sound waves to find out the noodle density.

Researchers at the Canadian International Grains Institute in downtown Winnipeg are also involved.

“What we are trying to do is measure the properties right as the noodles are being manufactured and use that info to control how the noodles are made up or how they are manufactured,” said Scanlon.

With the information about how soft or firm the noodles are, changes can be made right on the production line.

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“Our goal is to have a reliable motoring system that says this wasn’t good or bad in a particular way and suggest one should add more water, salt, ingredient or adjust the speed of the rollers,” said John Page, a physics professor involved in the project. “What we want to do is control the texture at the first stage of the sheeting process so that will let the optimum noodle to be produced so if you cook it home if you follow instructions right you will like the noodle because it feels good when you chew on it.”

The team was awarded a grant worth more than $500,000 to develop the technology to sell it to Asian manufacturers.

They buy a quarter of all western Canadian wheat to be turned into noodles.

If the technology catches on, Canadian farmers could reap the rewards.

“If they only buy an extra one or two per cent that can turn in to millions of dollars for extra revenue for Canadian farmers,” said Scanlon.

The team hopes to turn this prototype into a viable product within three years.