ENTRY 189: Printfruit
Fruit does generally grow on trees; that is a general problem when trees themselves are a rarity in the solar system. Beyond the general requirements of soil, water, light and volume to grow in, most fruit trees require years to mature until they can bear fruit, and in the years immediately following the Fall only a few habitats had the resources to devote to growing fruit-trees in any quantity. Efforts at making fast-growing trees, and of supporting them with advanced grafting techniques, has improved the availability of fruit, but for the bulk of transhumanity the only fruits that are available are relatively small berries, grapes, tomatoes and the like—and, of course, printfruit.
Fabricated with a combination of traditional nanomanufacturing techniques and wet making, the goal of printfruit is to simulate the experience of fruit—more than nutritional content, makers of printfruit strive to achieve smell, texture, and taste as well. It is, generally speaking, not an easy task. Makers, even those which are designed for making various artificial foodstuffs, are not well-equipped to handle juice, pith, and rind or skin; most amateurs just about manage to make a sticky mess, but there have been some successes.
The earliest, and most popular, printfruit is the Ice Orange. While creating a rough facsimile of the solid parts of the orange is not terribly difficult (as one artisan put it “it’s an edible ball stuffed with balloon-wedges”) getting the orange juice (or reasonable orange-flavored liquid) inside is a bit of a pickle. The solution that was arrived at was simply to freeze the “juice” concentrate; makers have a much easier time moving around orange-flavored ice-crystals than liquids. The resulting spheres are passable imitation fruit, with a soft edible rind and pulp filled with an orange-flavored slush; however the limits of physics still apply, so that when defrosted the Ice Oranges tend to be somewhat soft and saggy, requiring post-processing treatment to regain firmness.
The latest word in printfruit however are Melonstuff. As with most other printfruit, the active ingredient is a sugary, artificially-flavored liquid to simulate the fruit flavor; however a clever craftsman from Luna has devised an edible uniform polymer matrix which can store the juice and which very closely approaches the texture of cantaloupe meat. Rather than trying to fiddle with the rind or other details of melon structure, Melonstuff was released as freeware for other artisans to play with, and is freely or cheaply available on many habitats in the form of melonstuff balls, melonstuff bars, and even elaborate decorations; it freezes rather well and is sometimes served with a “chocolate” coating, or in other flavors. In small quantities, it has even fooled people in blind taste tests with real cantaloupe.
- Someone on the player character’s habitat is making durian-flavored printfruit. The spiky, rubbery balls are a poor imitation of the real thing, but the smell is close enough to trigger the gag reflex on most biomorphs, and a committee has been assembled as to whether or not durian printfruit counts as a potential bioweapon. The craftsperson making the durian printfruit claims they are an important part of their heritage, and begs the PCs to help argue their case in front of the committee…if not for the malodorous dorian, then because any restriction on printfruit might set a dangerous precedent. Will the PCs speak for or against the durian? (Gamemasters might bring a sample of durian to the game table to help the discussion along; if they can find it and if they dare.)