I don’t know why but us Japanese love new electronic technology. Whenever a new product is introduced to the market, it seems like everyone knows about it or already has one. It’s a type of herd society in that sense, but in general they are open, hungry and curious about any new gadget. A while back we were invited to dinner at my girlfriend’s home. Her husband, Shinya, talked about this new Japanese refrigerator with the latest technology that’s able to keep food fresh for a long period of time. I love this kind of stuff so my ears perked up!
This refrigerator is called KuraBan. It preserves fresh food to last longer without the usual decomposition. It uses a patented revolutionary system called N-TeFe Technology, which stands for Non Thermal Electro Field Energy Technology. Well, I didn’t understand all this mambo jambo stuff – so I googled it and found something from the University of Auckland on An Investigation on the Non-Thermal Pasteurization Using Pulsed Electric Fields. This similar technology deactivates enzymes and pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms. So instead of adding preservatives to extend the life of our food, the KuraBan uses electro static field technology to do it. They aren’t adding chemicals to food. Instead, they’re just changing the environment of the food. And in this special environment that this refrigerator creates, the food doesn’t spoil as quickly. I find this fascinating. It’s like a feng shui refrigerator – it’s all about the environment!
According to Shinya, “the developer of the technology, MARS Company in Gunma-ken, Takasaki-shi, Japan, calls it as “the refrigerator that cooks“. Indeed, this refrigerator probably is the only one in the world that inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria of all types, and at the same time it promotes the activity of beneficial micro organisms of all types. It accelerates the fermentation and growth of food cultures. It also boosts the sugar level of fresh fruits. Simultaneously, it extends the freshness of all types of raw foods such as meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables. One perfect example was a container of organic low fat milk opened in March, 2014 was not only drinkable in mid April, but rather it was tastier than when it was new.” That’s a whopping thirteen months!
Here are some photos of foods that Shinya put in the Kura Ban to test the technology. The first is the sliced beef. The beef slices were in stored for 14 days. The first tray was stored in a Kuraban and the second tray was in a conventional refrigerator. Both strawberry trays were stored for 20 days. The first was in a Kuraban the second was in a conventional refrigerator.
Four slices of bread were put in the bag on the same day. Two were placed in a regular refrigerator and two were placed in the KuraBan. After 28 to 30 days the ones in the regular refrigerator were showing mold. He sent me these photos about 75 days later from when the bread went in the refrigerators and the two in the KuraBan were showing no mold!
At dinner, Shinya who was a chef at his own restaurant in Seattle, served us a juicy, tender steak. We weren’t really guinea pigs, but he said this piece of meat was in the KuraBan refrigerator for 3 months. Yes, it was aged, but not spoiled and boy it was flavorful! Below is a photo of steaks that were aged for 62 days in the KuraBan. Please note that these were not frozen, they were placed in a refrigerator.
But, like all new gadgets, there is a price tag. In the U.S., this one (a double door reach-in for commercial use) will set you back $25,000. However, in Japan, this KuraBan refrigeration technology approach is becoming the industry standard especially for commercial purposes. It’s also considered the “next generation of refrigeration technology” far superior than our conventional refrigerator/freezer methods. As food becomes more expensive, will we be turning to preserving our fruit and vegetables in this way so we create less waste in our society? If the cost of growing food increases, it will inevitably affect our prices at the markets. The need for this type of technology on a mass scale may come sooner than we realize. It’s things such as this that remind me how important it is to keep educating ourselves in this fast paced society. You never know when you’ll need it.
For those interested in finding our more on the KuraBan refrigerator please visit Shinya’s company site: Ecore Global. www.ecoreglobal.com