Wonders of food technology: the water jet cutter

There are many wonders of engineering, confined to the labs and warehouses of industry, that lay people never get to see. That’s the case with the water jet cutter, which fires out a thin stream of water through a diamond nozzle at nearly the speed of sound and can slice through everything from peaches to linoleum with the greatest of ease.

It’s been around in some form since the 1950s, but if you’re not in the business of cutting things into ever-smaller pieces, you may not have come across it.

That stream of water has a delicate touch, too. It can slice through food items as fragile as canned peaches and leave not a scratch on them, except for a thin line of empty space. The moonpie (above), sliced with a water jet cutter, has not a crumb out of place.

It also, as long as the water is sterile, leaves no bacterial contamination on product which is a downside of using a metal knife to process sliced foods.

As you might have surmised by now, its slicing powers do not magically stop before human flesh. It will whirr through your finger like it whirrs through a strawberry cheesecake (which, yes, it does: see all of Paprima’s videos and photos here).

That’s one reason, perhaps, why you won’t be seeing them in kitchens anytime soon.

Here is a cutter made by Paprima going through beets like a knife through butter: