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Title:
METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR PREPARING DOUGH
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/024739
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to a method (1) of preparing dough. The method (1) comprises the steps of disposing (S1) flour in a first container, providing (S2) an electrolyte solution (S) in a second container, circulating (S3) an electrical current between a cathode and an anode being in electrical contact with the electrolyte solution to increase the pH of the electrolyte solution disposed in the second container to obtain an alkaline solution, transferring (S4) the alkaline solution from the second container to the first container, and mixing (S5) the flour and the alkaline solution in the first container for obtaining dough. The present invention also relates to a system for preparing dough. The present invention allows, among other advantages, quicker and more accurate production of dough.

Inventors:
XU, Hai, Di (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
YU, Donghai (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
WANG, Yanyan (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
ZHENG, Shuxiao (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
Application Number:
EP2017/069464
Publication Date:
February 08, 2018
Filing Date:
August 01, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
KONINKLIJKE PHILIPS N.V. (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
International Classes:
A21C14/00; A21D2/02; A21D2/40; A21D8/02; C02F1/461
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FREEKE, Arnold, Jan et al. (Philips International B.V. – Intellectual Property & Standards High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
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Claims:
CLAIMS:

1. A method (1, 2) of preparing dough, the method (1) comprising the steps of:

disposing (SI) flour (F) in a first container (11);

providing (S2) an electrolyte solution (S) in a second container (12);

circulating (S3) an electrical current (I) between a cathode (17) and an anode (16) being in electrical contact with the electrolyte solution (S) to increase the pH of the electrolyte solution (S) disposed in the second container (12) to obtain an alkaline solution;

measuring (S3A) said electrical current (I);

stopping (S3B) the circulation of the electrical current (I) when the electrical current (I) reaches a predetermined value (II) reflecting a targeted pH value to be obtained for the electrolyte solution;

transferring (S4) the alkaline solution from the second container (12) to the first container (11); and,

mixing (S5) the flour (F) and the alkaline solution in the first container (11) for obtaining dough.

2. A method (2) according to claim 1, wherein the step of providing (S2) the electrolyte solution (S) comprises the steps of disposing (S2A) water in the second container (12) and disposing (S2D) a given amount of salt compound in the second container (12). 3. A method (2) according to claim 2, wherein the step of providing (S2) the electrolyte solution (S) further comprises a step of determining (S2C) said given amount of salt compound in dependence of at least one of: the amount of water disposed in the second container (12) and the amount of flour (F) disposed in the first container (11). 4. A method (2) according to claim 3, wherein the step of providing (S2) the electrolyte solution (S) further comprises a step of measuring (S2B) at least one of: the amount of water disposed in the second container (12) and the amount of flour (F) disposed in the first container (11).

5. A method (2) according to any one of claims 2 to 4, wherein the given amount of salt compound concentration of the electrolyte solution (S) is in the range of 0.02 mol/L to 0.05 mol/L. 6. A method of preparing noodles comprising:

the steps of the method (1, 2) of preparing dough as claimed in any of the preceding claims; and,

a step of extruding (S6) the obtained dough for obtaining noodles. 7. A system (10, 20) for preparing dough, the system (10, 20) comprising:

a first container (11) for receiving flour (F);

a second container (12) for receiving an electrolyte solution (S); a first system (13) for increasing the pH of the electrolyte solution (S) in the second container (12) for obtaining an alkaline solution, wherein the first system (13) comprises an anode (16) and a cathode (17) being in electrical contact with the electrolyte solution (S) received in the second container (12), and a circuit (18) for circulating an electrical current (I) between the cathode (17) and the anode (16) to increase the pH of the electrolyte solution (S);

a second system (14) for transferring the alkaline solution from the second container (12) to the first container (11);

a third system (15) for mixing the flour (F) and the alkaline solution in the first container (11) to obtain dough; and,

a current sensor (35) to measure said electrical current (I), wherein the circuit (18) is configured to stop the circulation of the electrical current (I) when the measured electrical current (I) reaches a predetermined value (II) reflecting a targeted pH value for the alkaline solution.

8. A system (20) according to claim 7, further comprising a controller (29), a weight sensor (30) for measuring the weight of flour (F) in the first container (11), the electrolyte solution (S) being formed from water and a salt compound, the controller (29) being adapted to:

calculate a given amount of water to be received in the second container (12) based on the measured weight of flour (F); and, calculate a given amount of salt compound to be put in the second container (12) based on the measured weight of flour (F).

9. A system (20) according to claim 8, comprising a display (32) for displaying at least one of: said given amount of water to be put in the second container (12) and said given amount of a salt compound to be received in the second container (12).

10. A system (20) according to claim 8 or claim 9, further comprising a first dosing mechanism (33) for dosing said given amount of water in the second container (12).

11. A system (20) according to any one of claims 8 to 10, further comprising a second dosing mechanism (34) for dosing said given amount of salt compound in the second container (12). 12. A system (20) according to any one of claims 8 to 11, wherein the given amount of salt compound concentration of the electrolyte solution (S) is in the range of 0.02 mol/L to 0.05 mol/L.

13. A system (20) according to claim 1, when dependent on any of claims 8 to 11, further comprising a user interface (31) connected to the controller (29) and configured to allow a user to input a desired property for the dough to be prepared, wherein the controller (29) is configured to derive said targeted pH value for the alkaline solution corresponding to said desired property inputted by user. 14. A system (20) according to any one claims 7 to 13, further comprising a stirring mechanism (37) arranged in the second container (12).

15. An apparatus (40) for preparing noodles, comprising:

a system (10, 20) as claimed in any one of claims 7 to 14 for preparing dough; and,

an extruder (43) for extruding the obtained dough for obtaining noodles.

Description:
Method and system for preparing dough

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a method and system for preparing dough.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

It is known that there is a delay between the consumption of food and the consumer feeling satiated. This can result in overconsumption of the food and excessive energy intake, which contributes to obesity -related diseases. It is therefore desirable to produce food that is consumed (i.e. eaten) slower.

Increasing the hardness of a food generally results in slower consumption. This is because increased time duration for the mastication is required to break down the food for swallowing. In addition, harder foods may have a reduced hydration capability and therefore require increased mastication time for the consumer to secrete the necessary amount of saliva to hydrate the food to a level for comfortable swallowing.

The increased mastication time reduces the consumption rate of the food, thereby resulting in the consumer feeling satiated after less of the food has been consumed such that the level of consumption and energy intake are reduced.

One method for increasing the hardness of food is to prepare the food using an alkaline solution. For example, if the food (for example, noodles, pasta, flat bread and food made from unleavened wheat flour dough) is prepared from a dough made of water and flour, the pH of the water and flour mixture may be increased by the addition of alkaline chemicals (e.g. sodium carbonate or potassium carbonate) to the mixture. The alkaline chemicals alter the protein network of the dough such that the hardness/chewiness of the food is increased. However, alkaline chemicals can be difficult to procure and may need to be handled carefully which can increase the complexity of the cooking process. In addition, the pH of the water and flour mixture must be accurately adjusted to ensure that the necessary hardness of the food is achieved, since otherwise the food may not be sufficiently hard to effectively reduce consumption amount and energy intake, or alternatively may be too hard for comfortable mastication. However, accurate pH adjustment requires the alkaline chemicals to be added to the water and flour mixture in a precise amount that varies according to the quantities of flour and water in the mixture.

JP2009045020 discloses a method for producing modified wheat flour dough. The method includes the step of subjecting a mixture of wheat flour and water in a receptacle to electrolysis such that the hardness of the food made from the dough is increased.

Therefore, the hardness of the food may be increased without the user needing to add alkaline chemicals to the mixture of wheat flour and water. However, it has been found that this method can take an undesirably long time to treat the flour and water mixture to increase the hardness of the food by the required amount.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the invention to provide a method which substantially alleviates or overcomes one or more of the problems mentioned above.

The invention is defined by the independent claims. The dependent claims define advantageous embodiments.

According to the present invention, there is provided a method of preparing dough, the method comprising the steps of: disposing flour in a first container; providing an electrolyte solution in a second container; circulating an electrical current between an anode and a cathode being in electrical contact with the electrolyte solution to increase the pH of the electrolyte solution disposed in the second container to obtain an alkaline solution;

transferring the alkaline solution from the second container to the first container; and, mixing the flour and the alkaline solution in the first container for obtaining dough.

It has been found that increasing the pH of the electrolyte solution prior to mixing the electrolyte solution with the flour reduces the time taken to increase the pH of the electrolyte solution to the level necessary to achieve the required hardness of food. This is because if the electrolyte solution and flour were instead first mixed together and then the pH of the mixture increased, the flour would begin to react with the alkaline solution as soon as the pH of the electrolyte solution started to increase, altering the pH of the solution such that it would take longer for the pH of the mixture to be increased to the desired level. The flour protein reacts with the alkaline solution to reduce the pH of the alkaline solution and also the flour dilutes the alkaline solution.

The method also improves the accuracy of the adjustment of the food hardness. This is because performing electrolysis on a mixture of flour and electrolyte solution, as done in the known solutions, would make it difficult to predict the final pH of the electrolyte solution after electrolysis has been performed because the pH will have been altered by the flour. Moreover, it is difficult to accurately produce food of a specific hardness if the flour is mixed with the electrolyte solution before the pH of the electrolyte solution is adjusted because the protein network of the flour is modified as soon as the pH of the electrolyte solution starts to increase. Thus, it is difficult to predict how much modification of the protein network has occurred prior to the pH of the electrolyte solution reaching the level chosen for the specific food hardness. The present invention alleviates the above problems by first increasing the pH of the electrolyte solution to the desired level of alkalinity and then subsequently mixing the alkaline solution with the flour to obtain dough. Therefore, the pH of the electrolyte solution is increased more quickly and accurately and the modification of the protein network of the flour is easier to predict and control.

Preferably, the step of providing the electrolyte solution comprises the steps of disposing water in the second container and disposing a given amount of salt compound in the second container.

Therefore, the electrolyte solution may be easily produced by the user using readily available water and salt compound (for example, sodium chloride).

Advantageously, the step of providing the electrolyte solution in the second container further comprises a step of determining the given amount of salt compound in dependence of at least one of: the amount of water disposed in the second container and the amount of flour disposed in the first container.

This helps to ensure that the necessary amount of salt compound to achieve the desired pH value can be added to the water to improve the accuracy of the adjustment of the food hardness and also prevents waste associated with excess salt compound being added to the water.

Preferably, the step of providing the electrolyte solution further comprises a step of measuring at least one of: the amount of water disposed in the second container and the amount of flour disposed in the first container.

In one embodiment, the dough is for making noodles.

Advantageously, the method further comprises the steps of measuring the electrical current, and stopping the circulation of the electrical current when the measured electrical current reaches a predetermined value reflecting a targeted pH value to be obtained.

Therefore, the pH of the electrolyte solution can be adjusted without the user having to manually stop the circulation of the electrical current, thereby improving the accuracy and convenience of the method. Additionally, the energy consumption of the method is also reduced because circulation of the electrical current is stopped once the desired pH value of the alkaline solution is reached.

According to the present invention, there is also provided a method of preparing noodles comprising the steps of the method of preparing dough according to the present invention as previously summarized; and a step of extruding the obtained dough for obtaining noodles.

According to the present invention, there is also provided a system for preparing dough, the system comprising, a first container for receiving flour, a second container for receiving an electrolyte solution, and a first system for increasing the pH of the electrolyte solution in the second container for obtaining an alkaline solution. The first system comprises an anode and a cathode being in electrical contact with electrolyte solution received in the second container, and a circuit for circulating an electrical current between the anode and the cathode to increase the pH of the electrolyte solution received in the second container. The system also comprises a second system for transferring the alkaline solution from the second container to the first container, and a third system for mixing the flour and the alkaline solution in the first container to obtain dough.

It has been found that increasing the pH of the electrolyte solution in a second container prior to mixing the resultant alkaline solution with the flour in a first container reduces the time taken to increase the pH of the electrolyte solution to the level necessary to achieve the required hardness of food, as indicated previously along with the method according to the invention.

The system also improves the accuracy of the adjustment of the food hardness, as indicated previously along with the method according to the invention. The system allows for the pH of the electrolyte solution to be increased more quickly and accurately, as indicated previously along with the method according to the invention.

Preferably, the system further comprises a controller.

Preferably, the system further comprises a weight sensor for measuring the weight of flour in the first container. The controller is adapted to calculate a given amount of water to be received in the second container based on the measured weight of flour, and to calculate a given amount of salt compound to be put in the second container based on the measured weight of flour.

Therefore, the correct amount of water can be added to the second container in accordance with the amount of flour to produce dough of a desirable consistency and the correct amount of salt compound can be added to the water to obtain an electrolyte solution having a suitable salt concentration. This may help to ensure that food produced from the dough has a desired hardness.

Preferably, the system comprises a display for displaying at least one of: the given amount of water to be put in the second container and the given amount of a salt compound to be received in the second container.

Therefore, the display prompts the user to introduce the correct amounts of water and salt compound into the second container. This makes the system easier to use because the user does not have to manually calculate the amounts of water and salt compound to be added to the second container.

Advantageously, the system further comprises a first dosing mechanism for dosing the given amount of water in the second container.

Therefore, the system is made easier to use because the user does not have to manually add water to the second container. In addition, the accuracy of the amount of water added to the second container is increased in comparison to if the water was added manually by the user.

Preferably, the system further comprises a second dosing mechanism for dosing the given amount of salt compound in the second container.

Therefore, the system is made easier to use because the user does not have to manually add the salt compound to the second container. In addition, the accuracy of the amount of salt compound added to the second container is increased in comparison to if the salt compound was added manually by the user.

Advantageously, the system further comprises a current sensor to measure the electrical current. The circuit is configured to stop the circulation of the electrical current when the measured electrical current reaches a predetermined value reflecting a targeted pH value for the alkaline solution.

Therefore, the accuracy of the adjustment of the pH of the electrolyte solution is improved and the system is more convenient to operate because the user does not need to manually stop the circulation of the electrical current once the targeted pH is reached.

Furthermore, the energy efficiency of the system is increased because circulation of the electrical current is stopped once the targeted pH value of the alkaline solution is reached.

Preferably, the system further comprises a user interface connected to the controller and configured to allow a user to input a desired property for the dough to be prepared, wherein the controller is configured to derive said targeted pH value for the alkaline solution corresponding to said desired property inputted by user. Therefore, the alkalinity of the solution can be tailored in accordance with a desired property of the dough that will be used for further food preparation.

Preferably, the system further comprises a stirring mechanism arranged in the second container.

This improves the distribution of the salt compound in the second container, and prevents any manual stirring action from the user.

According to the present invention, there is also provided an apparatus for preparing noodles comprising a system for preparing dough previously introduced, and an extruder for extruding the obtained dough for obtaining noodles.

These and other aspects of the invention will be apparent from and elucidated with reference to the embodiments described hereinafter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The particular aspects of the invention will now be explained with reference to the embodiments described hereinafter and considered in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which identical parts or sub-steps are designated in the same manner:

Fig. 1 is a flow chart of a method of preparing dough according to an embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 2 is a flow chart of the method of preparing dough according to another embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 3 is a schematic diagram of a system for preparing dough according to an embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 4 is a schematic diagram of a system for preparing dough according to another embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 5 is a schematic diagram of the connections of a controller with peripheral features used in the system of Fig. 4; and,

Fig. 6 is a schematic perspective view of an apparatus for producing noodles according to an embodiment of the invention. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE EMBODIMENTS

Referring now to Fig. 1, a flow chart representing the steps of a method 1 of preparing dough according to the invention is shown. The method 1 described below can be implemented in the systems 10 and 20 for preparing dough shown in Fig. 3 and Fig.4, respectively; and in the apparatus for producing noodles shown in Fig. 6. However, it should be recognised that the method 1 is not limited to use with the systems 10, 20 or apparatus 40 described below.

The method 1 comprises a step SI of disposing flour F in a first container 11.

The method 1 further comprises a step S2 of providing an electrolyte solution S in a second container 12.

The method 1 also comprises a step S3 of circulating an electrical current I between a cathode 17 and an anode 16 being in electrical contact with the electrolyte solution S to increase the pH of the electrolyte solution S disposed in the second container 12 to obtain an alkaline solution.

The method 1 further comprises a step S4 of transferring the alkaline solution from the second container 12 to the first container 11.

The method 1 further comprises a step S5 of mixing the flour F and the alkaline solution in the first container 11 for obtaining dough.

The method 1 first increases the pH of the electrolyte solution S to the desired level of alkalinity in the second container 12 and then subsequently mixes the alkaline solution with the flour F to obtain dough in the first container 11.

An electrolyte is a substance that produces an ionic solution when dissolved in a polar solvent, such as water. The ionic solution is an electrolyte solution. Electrically, such a solution is neutral.

When an electrical potential is applied to the electrolyte solution S, the movement of anions and cations in opposite directions within the electrolyte solution S amounts to a current I that is circulated between the cathode 17 and anode 16. In one embodiment, the electrical current I circulated between the cathode 17 and anode 16 is in the range of 0.5A to 1.5A. However, it should be recognised that in other embodiments a different value of current I is circulated between the cathode 17 and anode 16.

In one embodiment, the method 1 increases the pH of the electrolyte solution S in the second container 12 to a pH value in range of 10 to 13. This pH range of alkaline solution has been found to produce dough that results in food having a level of hardness that effectively reduces the rate of consumption whilst still being soft enough for comfortable mastication. However, it should be recognised that in other embodiments the pH of the electrolyte solution S is increased to a different pH value.

In one embodiment, the flour F is a wheat flour. The wheat protein or gluten reacts with the alkaline solution when flour F and the alkaline solution in the first container 11 are mixed together for obtaining dough. In one embodiment, the step S4 of transferring the alkaline solution from the second container 12 to the first container 11 comprises transferring the alkaline solution at a flow rate in the range of 2 to 10 mL/s and, preferably, at a flow rate of 6 mL/s. However, it should be recognised that in other embodiments the alkaline solution is transferred from the second container 12 to the first container 11 at a different flow rate.

In one embodiment, the step S5 of mixing the flour F and the alkaline solution in the first container 11 for obtaining dough comprises rotating an extrusion bar, for example, a screw- shaped member, in the first container 11.

Referring now to Fig. 2, a flow chart representing the steps of an alternative method 2 of preparing dough according to the invention is shown.

The method 2 comprises the same steps SI, S2, S3, S4, S5 as described along with Fig. 1.

Optionally, the step S2 of providing an electrolyte solution S in the second container 12 comprises a step S2A of disposing water in the second container 12 and a step S2D of disposing a given amount of salt compound (not shown) in the second container 12.

In one embodiment, the salt compound is sodium chloride (NaCl). However, the salt compound may alternatively be a different type of edible salt, for example, sodium nitrate (NaN0 3 ), sodium sulphate (Na 2 S04) or potassium chloride (KCl). The salt compound may be solid or liquid.

The salt compound produces an ionic solution when dissolved in a polar solvent, such as water.

Optionally, the amount of salt compound is the weight of the salt compound. Alternatively, the amount of salt compound is the volume of the salt compound.

In one embodiment, the step S2 of providing an electrolyte solution S in the second container 12 further comprises a step S2C of determining the given amount of salt compound in dependence of at least one of: the amount of water disposed in the second container 12 and the amount of flour F disposed in the first container 11.

The amount of water may be the volume of water, the weight of water or the water level. The amount of flour F may be the volume of flour F or the weight of flour F.

In one embodiment, salt compound is added to achieve a salt compound concentration of the electrolyte solution S in the range of 0.02 mol/L to 0.05 mol/L and, preferably, a concentration of 0.03 mol/L. Thus, the greater the amount of water disposed in the second container 12, the larger the amount of salt compound that is added to the second container 12 to achieve a given salt concentration. Optionally, the step S2 of providing an electrolyte solution S in the second container 12 further comprises a step S2B of measuring at least one of: the amount of water disposed in the second container 12 and the amount of flour F disposed in the first container 11.

As discussed above, the step S3 of circulating an electrical current I between a cathode 17 and an anode 16 being in electrical contact with the electrolyte solution S causes the electrical current I to be conducted by the electrolyte solution S to increase the pH of the electrolyte solution S disposed in the second container 12 to obtain an alkaline solution.

In one embodiment, the method 2 further comprises a step S3A of measuring the electrical current I, and a step S3B of stopping the circulation of the electrical current I when the measured electrical current I reaches a predetermined value II reflecting a targeted pH value of the alkaline solution to be obtained.

In one exemplary embodiment, the electrolyte solution S put in the second container 12 comprised water with Sodium Chloride (NaCl) at a concentration of 0.03 mol/L. A voltage of 32 V was applied to the cathode 17 and anode 16. The measured electrical current I at the start of electrolysis was 0.7A and the pH of the electrolyte solution S was 7. The target pH value of the alkaline solution to be obtained was 11.5, which is reflected by the measured electrical current I reaching a predetermined value II of 1 A. When the pH of the electrolyte solution S increased to 10, the measured electrical current I was 0.8 A. When the pH increased to 11, the measured electrical current I was 0.85 A. When the pH increased to 11.2, the measured electrical current I was 0.9 A. When the pH increased to the target pH value of 11.5, the measured electrical current I reached the predetermined value II of 1A.

Advantageously, the methods 1 and 2 of preparing dough shown in Fig. 1 or 2 are part of a method of preparing noodles. Dough is produced using the steps of the methods 1 and 2, and then a step of extruding S6 is performed on the obtained dough to obtain noodles. Optionally, the dough is extruded through one or more apertures to form the noodles.

In some embodiments, the steps SI to S5 of the methods 1 and 2 are performed consecutively. However, it should be recognised that in other embodiments one or more of the steps SI to S5 of the method 1, 2 are performed concurrently. For example, in one embodiment the step S5 of mixing the flour F and the alkaline solution in the first container 11 for obtaining dough is commenced whilst the step S4 of transferring the alkaline solution from the second container 12 to the first container 11 is still being performed. Referring now to Fig. 3, a system 10 for preparing dough according to an embodiment of the invention is shown. The system 10 is intended to implement the various steps of the methods 1, 2 described above.

The system 10 comprises a first container 11 for receiving flour F and a second container 12 for receiving an electrolyte solution S.

The system 10 comprises a first system 13 for increasing the pH of the electrolyte solution S in the second container 12 for obtaining an alkaline solution.

The first system 13 comprises an anode 16 and a cathode 17 being in electrical contact with the electrolyte solution S received in the second container 12. The first system 13 further comprises a circuit 18 for circulating an electrical current I between the cathode 17 and the anode 16 to increase the pH of the electrolyte solution S received in the second container 12.

The system 10 comprises a second system 14 for transferring the alkaline solution from the second container 12 to the first container 11.

The system 10 further comprises a third system 15 for mixing the flour F and the alkaline solution in the first container 11 to obtain dough. For example, the third system 15 comprises a kneading member or a mixing member that is rotated by a motor (not shown).

As described above along with the methods 1 and 2, the system 10 increases the pH of the electrolyte solution S in the second container 12 prior to mixing the electrolyte solution S and the flour F together in the first container 11.

Referring now to Fig. 4, a system 20 for preparing dough according to another embodiment of the invention is shown.

The system 20 is based on the system 10 as described along with Fig. 3, in which additional technical features are implemented.

Optionally, the system 20 further comprises a controller 29 and a weight sensor 30 for measuring the weight of flour F in the first container 11. The controller 29 is adapted to:

calculate a given amount of water to be received in the second container 12 based on the measured weight of flour F; and,

- calculate a given amount of salt compound to be put in the second container

12 based on the measured weight of flour F.

In one exemplary embodiment, the ratio of the amount of flour F in the first container 11 to the amount of water in the second container 12 is 3: 1. In one embodiment, the weight of flour F in the first container 11 is 100 g and the weight of water in the second container 12 is in the range of 32 to 35 g and, preferably, is 33 g. In one such embodiment, the amount of salt compound to be put in the second container 12 is 0.06g.

Optionally, the system 20 further comprises a second weight sensor (not shown) for measuring the amount of water in the second container 12. In another

embodiment, the system 20 comprises a water level sensor (not shown) for measuring the amount of water in the second container 12. The water level sensor may comprise a capacitive sensor. Alternatively, the water level sensor may comprise a plurality of resistance or conductivity sensors that are positioned at different heights in the second container 12. The water level in the second container 12 can be determined based on the number of

conductivity sensors that detect water in the second container 12.

In one embodiment, the system 20 further comprises a user interface 31 connected to the controller 29 and configured to allow a user to input a desired property for the dough to be prepared, wherein the controller 29 is configured to derive a targeted pH value for the alkaline solution corresponding to a desired property inputted by user.

In one embodiment, the desired property may be a desired hardness of food made from the dough. For instance, the user is able to input the dough property from the range of:

dough for medium hardness food,

dough for hard food,

dough for very hard food.

In one embodiment, the target pH value of the alkaline solution for producing dough for medium hardness food is in the range of 10 to 11; the target pH value of the alkaline solution for producing dough for hard food is in the range of 11 to 11.5; and, the target pH value of the alkaline solution for producing dough for very hard food is greater than 11.5.

In one embodiment, the desired property for the dough may instead, or additionally, include the type of food. For example, food corresponds to noodles or bread.

Optionally, the system 20 comprises a display 32 configured to display at least one of: the given amount of water to be put in the second container 12 and the given amount of a salt compound to be put in the second container 12. The user interface 31 may comprise the display 32.

In one embodiment, the system 20 further comprises a first dosing mechanism 33 for dosing the given amount of water in the second container 12. For example, the first dosing mechanism 33 comprises a flow control device (not shown), for example, a valve or pump, that is connected to a water supply (not shown). The flow control device is operated to selectively fluidly communicate the water supply with the second container 12 to supply the given amount of water to the second container 12. The water supply may comprise, for example, a water tank or water pipe.

In one embodiment, the first dosing mechanism 33 is controlled by the controller 29 to add the given amount of water to the second container 12 according to the amount of flour F in the first container 11, without any user manual action.

In one embodiment, the system 20 further comprises a second dosing mechanism 34 for dosing the given amount of salt compound in the second container 12. For example, the second dosing mechanism 34 may comprise a hopper (not shown) that contains the salt compound. The hopper may be operated to release the given amount of salt compound in the second container 12, for example, being tipped by an electric motor. In another embodiment, the hopper includes a screw thread (not shown) that is rotatable to urge salt compound out of the hopper and into the second container 12.

In one embodiment, the second dosing mechanism 34 is controlled by the controller 29 such that the second dosing mechanism 34 is controlled to add the given amount of salt compound to the second container 12 according to at least one of: the amount of flour F in the first container 11 and the amount of water added to the second container 12, without any user manual action.

Optionally, the system 20 further comprises a current sensor 35 to measure the electrical current I. The circuit 18 may be configured to stop the circulation of the electrical current I when the electrical current I reaches a predetermined value II reflecting the targeted pH value for the alkaline solution. In one embodiment, the current sensor 35 is an ammeter.

In one embodiment, the controller 29 comprises a memory 29A and a processor 29B. Optionally, the memory 29 A is configured to store instructions to be carried out by the processor 29B. For example, in one embodiment the memory 29 A stores instructions to operate the first system 13 for a first time period, to operate the second system 14 for a second time period and/or to operate the third system 15 for a third time period. In one embodiment, the memory 29A stores one or more target pH ranges. In one embodiment, the memory 29A stores the targeted pH value for the alkaline solution corresponding to each possible desired property inputted by user. For example, the memory 29A stores the target pH range for each of: dough for medium hardness food; dough for hard food; and, dough for very hard food. In one embodiment, the desired property for the dough may instead, or additionally, include the type of food. In one embodiment, the memory 29A stores at least one of: the amount of flour F that must be added to the first container 11 and the amount of water and/or salt compound that must be added to the second container 12.

Optionally, the controller 29 is configured to operate the second system 14 without any user manual action once the electrical current I reaches the predetermined value II to transfer the alkaline solution from the second container 12 to the first container 11.

In one embodiment, the system 20 further comprises a stirring mechanism 37 arranged in the second container 12. For example, the stirring mechanism 37 comprises one or more blades 37 that are rotated by a motor (not shown) to stir the contents of the second container 12.

Fig. 5 is a schematic representation of the various connections between the controller 29 and the various peripheral features described above.

Optionally, the system 20 further comprises a housing 20A. The first and second containers 11, 12 may be disposed in the housing 20A. Optionally, the first, second and/or third systems 13, 14, 15 are disposed in the housing 20A.

In one embodiment, the second system 14 for transferring the alkaline solution from the second container 12 to the first container 11 comprises a (water) pump 14A. The second system 14 may further comprise first and second conduits 14B, 14C. The first conduit 14B fluidly connects the second container 12 to the pump 14A and the second conduit 14C fluidly connects the first container 11 to the pump 14A. The pump 14A is operated under the control of the controller 29 to transfer alkaline solution from the second container 12 to the first container 11 via the first and second conduits 14B, 14C. The pump 14A may be actuated by an electric motor (not shown).

In one embodiment, the second system 14 for transferring the alkaline solution from the second container 12 to the first container 11 comprises a valve (not shown). The valve can be opened under the control of the controller 29 to transfer the alkaline solution from the second container 12 to the first container 11. In one such embodiment (not shown), the second container 12 is located above the first container 11 such that the alkaline solution is transferred from the second container 12 to the first container 11 via gravity when the valve is opened.

Referring now to Fig. 6, an apparatus 40 for preparing noodles according to an embodiment of the invention is shown.

The apparatus 40 comprises a system (not shown) for preparing dough of the type described above in relation to Figs. 4 and 5 and therefore a detailed description of the system will not be repeated hereinafter. However, it should be recognised that the apparatus 40 may instead comprise the system 10 of preparing dough of the embodiment shown in Fig. 3 or may alternatively comprise a different configuration of system for preparing dough.

Optionally, the apparatus 40 further comprises a housing 40A. In some embodiments, at least part of the system 10, 20 for preparing dough may be disposed in the housing 40A. Optionally, the first and second containers 11, 12 are disposed in the housing 40A. Optionally, the first, second and/or third systems 13, 14, 15 are disposed in the housing 40A.

Optionally, the system of the apparatus 40 further comprises a user interface 31 (connected to the controller 29) and configured to allow a user to input a desired property for the dough to be prepared, wherein the controller is configured to derive the targeted pH value for the alkaline solution corresponding to the desired property inputted by user.

In one embodiment, the apparatus 40 comprises a display 32 for displaying at least one of: the given amount of water to be put in the second container and the given amount of a salt compound to be put in the second container.

Optionally, the user interface 31 comprises one or more buttons 41 A that may be actuated by the user to input a desired property for the dough to be prepared.

In one embodiment, the apparatus 40 further comprises an extruder 43 configured to extrude the dough in the first container to produce noodles, for example, forming the dough into a plurality of strands (not shown). Optionally, the extruder 43 comprises a plate 44 with one or more apertures 45 through which the dough is extruded to obtain the noodles. In one embodiment, the apparatus 40 further comprises a screw- shaped member (not shown) that is provided in the first container. The screw-shaped member is configured to rotate to urge dough in the first container through the extruder 43 to produce noodles. Optionally, the third system comprises the screw-shaped member for mixing the flour and alkaline solution in the first container to obtain dough.

In some embodiments, the circuit 18 comprises an electrical power source (not shown) and an electric switch system (not shown) configured to selectively connect the power source to the anode 16 and cathode 17.

In some embodiments, the anode 16 is arranged to decrease the pH of electrolyte solution S in electrical contact with the anode 16 when the current I is circulated by the circuit 18.

The second system 14 may be arranged such that more of the electrolyte solution S of increased pH than electrolyte solution S of decreased pH is transferred from the second container 12 to the first container 11. Thus, the overall pH the electrolyte solution S transferred to the first container 11 is alkaline. In one such embodiment, the second system 14 may be located nearer to the cathode 17 than the anode 16.

In some embodiments, the second container 12 comprises a membrane or wall (not shown) between the anode 16 and the cathode 17 to keep the electrolyte solution S of increased pH separate from the electrolyte solution S of decreased pH.

Optionally, the anode 16 comprises a pseudo capacitance material. The pseudo capacitance material is such that the pH of the electrolyte solution S in the second container 12 is increased due to electrolysis at the cathode 17 more than it is decreased due to electrolysis at the anode 16. The pseudo capacitance material is such that it loses electrons and adsorb anions from the electrolyte solution S by electrochemically reacting with the anions, and Hydrogen ions (H + ) in the electrolyte solution S is consumed at the cathode 17 by getting electrons to leave Hydroxyl ions (OH ) in the electrolyte solution S such that the electrolyte solution S is an alkaline solution. The pseudo capacitance material may be as described in WO2014/102636, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

In one embodiment, the pseudo capacitance material comprises a transition metal oxide, which may be coated on a substrate. The transition metal oxide is used as an example of the pseudo capacitance material to provide super capacitance for the anode 16 so as to inhibit water electrolysis at the anode 16.

When the anode 16 comprises a transition metal oxide, a pseudo-faradic reaction takes place at the anode 16 whereby an oxidation status of the transition metal is increased. The anode 16 loses electrons, and anions in the electrolyte solution S are absorbed by the transition metal oxide. H + in the water are consumed by getting the electrons at the cathode 17 (see equation 1 below). OH " in the electrolyte solution S are not consumed at the anode 16 and instead are left in the electrolyte solution S such that the pH value of the electrolyte solution S in the second container 12 is increased accordingly.

2H + +2e→H 2

[Equation 1] In one embodiment, the anode 16 comprises a transition metal oxide comprising Magnesium dioxide (Mn0 2 ). Those skilled in the art could appreciate Mn0 2 is only taken as an exemplary instance and can be replaced by a different transition metal oxide such as Iron(III) oxide (Fe 2 0 3 ) or Ruthenium (IV) oxide (Ru0 2 ). The cathode 17 can be made from Titanium (Ti), a Mixed Metal Oxide (MMO) of Titanium, any other inert metal or oxide thereof, or graphite. The anode 16 can be made from pure Mn0 2 , by doping Mn0 2 in a substrate, or coating the substrate with Mn0 2 . In some embodiments, for example, those wherein the anode 16 is made of pure Mn0 2 and thus the electric conductivity of the anode 16 is not very high, the electric conductivity of the anode 16 can be improved by using a MMO substrate or doping some materials of high electrical conductivity (for example, graphite or grapheme). During operation, a pseudo- faradic reaction will take place because the anode 16 includes a titanium metal oxide (i.e. Mn0 2 ) such that the anode 16 acts as a super capacitor.

In another embodiment, the pseudo capacitance material comprises conjugated conductive polymers (CCP). CCP is p-doped and functions as a Faradic capacitor. The CCP is discharged to lose electrons such that the reaction of equation 1 at the anode 16 will be at least partially inhibited and OH " therefore accumulates. Examples of CCP include

Polyp yrrole (PPy). PPy shows relatively high capacitances and could remain stable after a long duration of use. In a further preferred embodiment, the CCP may be carbon doped PPy. In one embodiment, carbon, such as graphene, is doped to form a frame containing the PPy, and grapheme modified PPy (GmPPy) is generated. The carbon doped polypyrrole may be deposited on a porous titanium substrate of the anode 16.

The above embodiments as described are only illustrative, and not intended to limit the technique approaches of the present invention. Although the present invention is described in details referring to the preferable embodiments, those skilled in the art will understand that the technique approaches of the present invention can be modified or equally displaced without departing from the spirit and scope of the technique approaches of the present invention, which will also fall into the protective scope of the claims of the present invention. In the claims, the word "comprising" does not exclude other elements or steps, and the indefinite article "a" or "an" does not exclude a plurality.

Any reference signs in the claims should not be construed as limiting the scope.