An item of kitchenware, the milk tap - also known as the microdairy - is basically identical to the synthi-breast but is a standalone item intended for normal household use rather than for feeding a child. It takes power and feedstock material and uses it to produce fresh milk on demand for consumption and use by its owners.
In terms of output, a milk tap for single adult human-sized person might produce perhaps half a litre of milk a day. Those for families or other large groups use milk taps with proportionately larger outputs; by comparison an animals such as a cow can produce perhaps thirty litres of milk a day. Obviously milk taps for other uses, such as a coffee creamer version where far less product is required, can be much smaller.
The volume of milk that can be produced in a given time depends on the exact appliance. Smaller ones provide milk for an individual, with larger ones providing for families or larger groups. Individual and family sized milk taps are quite small, fitting on a counter top, with volumes of between a few litres and a few tens of litres depending on the output required. Ones for larger groups become increasingly larger in size. For cases where very large amounts of milk are required, larger milk taps that are free-standing or built into a structure are used. Some individuals or families have units larger than the number of people in a given location might require to give them sufficient additional capacity to host (for example) a major dinner party.
Most models allow the user to control the temperature and creaminess of the milk produced. More advanced models also allow the user to select the type of mammal from which the synthesised milk is derived, such as cow, human, dolphin, camel and so on, as well as add flavours and other additives.
Some models use biotech cells to synthesise the milk. Others are either part of or include a nanoforge to synthesize the necessary molecules directly, requiring only water, feedstock materials and a power source to operate. Some are a dedicated nanoforge that specializes in producing liquids. Others are a series of settings on a more generalized device that allow it to do essentially the same thing.
In many cases the milk tap is integrated into the general food synthesis apparatus of a kitchen.
The appearance of milk taps can vary widely depending on the taste of the owner. In some the milk is delivered via a normal tap not unlike that for water. Others use a pump not unlike that for beer. Others again have a much more organic look and may even resemble an actual cows teat, or some other biont breast.
Milk taps are often part of a range of organic fluid taps, each producing a different beverage with more rarely used fluids being made on demand. Depending on consumption levels each tap may have a reservoir - heated or chilled depending on user preference - allowing multiple glasses of the beverage to be dispensed without running out.
Others taps use similar technologies to make any of a variety of fruit juices and/or alcoholic beverages. Some combined taps can mix (for example) fruit juices and milk or cream to produce smoothies.
In cases where a more portable version is needed, or if a central refrigerator is still considered desirable, part of the unit can detach with a convenient handle that turns it into a pitcher, within inbuilt heating or cooling elements as required. When plugged back into the main unit the pitcher refills as new beverage is synthesized.
Similar technologies allow the production of meats and vegetables, although for various reasons many (not all) cultures in OA continue to engage in more 'conventional' agriculture to varying degrees.
- Artificial Meat Production
- Edible Table - Text by John B
The Edible Table appeals to those who do not wish to spend too much money or attention on food. It regrows rapidly to a preset size if provided with a mild electrical current, water, and nutriments (which it can filter out of other matter, fecal waste in particular). Comes in many flavors, but it is recommended that the purchaser also augment their teeth and jaws, as the material is quite stiff.
- Endurasoy - Text by M. Alan Kazlev after original by Kevin Self
Interplanetary age gengineered edible grain. A genetic blend of baseline soy and Cislunar neogen plants, endurasoy is high in protein, fiber, and vitamins, and resistant to almost all known diseases and pests. Although its robustness makes it indispensable as a high yield plant, it can disrupt ecosystems on low and medium tech biospheres if not kept in check.
- Food Production
- Interactive Food
- Lagrange Snow - Text by Anders Sandberg
Traditional Sol System dessert/confection, invented by the early space colonists. It consists of cream (bovine or from soy) and egg whites whipped together with flavoring and then exposed to a minute of vacuum and sunlight. The vacuum causes air bubbles to expand, while the ultraviolet radiation denatures the protein into an elastic matrix. The result is an ultra-light, foamy dessert usually served immediately with fruits. Due to its instability it cannot be stored.
- Slide - Text by John B
Utterly tasteless and transparent foodstuff. It also has effectively no coefficient of friction, and may be infused with most any flavor. Favored as a texture by several clades, and sold in sealed single-swallow capsules, it's often held in the mouth until the taste overwhelms the taste buds then swallowed. Also very useful in sabotage.
- UltiFood Competition
Text by Tony Jones
Initially published on 29 August 2012.