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Ray Hoemsen Retirement

June 16, 2020

After nearly 35 years of working in the academic technology transfer and applied research world, Ray Hoemsen has retired from Red River College, as of May 22, 2020.

Ray has led RRC’s research enterprise, Research Partnerships & Innovation (RPI), since it was first established in 2004. Through his leadership, the College has seen tremendous growth as one of the most significant research colleges in Western Canada, and one of the few to be awarded three Technology Access Centres. His many years of experience were a great asset not only to the College, but to RRC’s vast network of partners, collaborators and clients.

From culinary research, building efficiency technology, social and health sciences, manufacturing and aerospace, electric vehicle technology and more, Ray fostered an abundant research hub at RRC that continues to grow. His leadership has empowered RPI to keep evolving to meet the needs of Manitoba’s diverse industry, and to empower future generations of students and researchers to gain the hands-on experience needed to create ground-breaking results to better serve our community and economy.

Spilling the Beans: to salt or not to salt?

June 4, 2020

When it comes to cooking beans, the subject of salt has long been contentious. Traditionally, the belief has been you should not add salt to the beans until after they are cooked or else they’ll have an unpleasant, grainy texture. Many culinary experts still opt to use salt, but disagree on when it should be added or in what amount.

Properly cooked beans have a slightly firm bite and a smooth, creamy texture that is not watery or gritty. They should appear shiny with bright colour and not be broken when cooked. The flavour should be earthy and not salty.

The Culinary Research team at Red River College used a combination of scientific process and culinary knowledge to test various combinations in search of the perfect bean. This article highlights their findings regarding how salt addition and water hardness affect the cook times, flavour, texture and appearance of five bean types.

COOKING WITH SALT

SOAKING BEANS IN SALT BRINE

When cooking beans from dry, salt can be added to the soak water to improve the quality and cooking time. Following cooking trials, it was found that beans soaked in a 2% salt brine* had reduced cooking time, as well as improved cooked flavour and texture compared to soaking in distilled water.

*Prepare 2% salt brine by adding 2.5 teaspoons (15g) of salt to 3 cups of water, stir until fully dissolved.

COOKING BEANS IN SALTED WATER

In cooking trials, the researchers added 0, 1, 2 and 3% quantities of salt to cooking water after a 24-hour soaking period at room temperature. They found that beans cooked in 1-2% salted water had reduced cooking times, compared to unsalted water*.

*Prepare 1% salted cooking water by adding 1.5-2 teaspoons (10 g) to 4 cups of fresh, distilled boiling water.

Prepare 2% salted cooking water by adding 3.5 teaspoons salt (20 g) to 4 cups of fresh, distilled boiling water.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON HARD WATER

Hard water is found throughout Manitoba. It is important to note that hard water can greatly affect final sensory characteristics and cooking time of beans.

Researchers completed bean cooking trials at Red River College using soft water (30mg CaCO3/L) and hard water (120 mg CaCO3/L), as well as with distilled water (0mg CaCO3/L) for kidney beans and black beans. When hard and soft water are used for soaking and cooking beans, the cooking time is increased and the cooked quality is decreased. This effect is most prominent in larger kidney beans where the cook time is increased by 17% and 70% for soft water and hard water respectively. Although the best results came from beans cooked in distilled water, this may not be practical for everyday cooking. Further research is required to refine methods for cooking beans using hard tap water.

RECOMMENDED SALTING METHODS FOR DIFFERENT BEAN TYPES

Trials were conducted on five bean types: kidney, black, faba, navy and pinto. The use of 1-2% salt reduced cooking time* and improved the flavour, texture and appearance of cooked beans.

Based on the study, the cooking recommendations for each bean are as follows:

Navy Bean: 2% brine soak (average cook time = 34 min)

Black Bean: 2% brine soak (average cook time= 28 min)

Faba Bean: 1% salt in cooking water (average cook time = 9 min)

Kidney Bean: 1% salt in cooking water (average cook time = 36 min)

Pinto Bean: 1% salt in cooking water (average cook time = 26 min)

*Cooking time for beans begins when the cooking water reaches a gentle simmer. Water should be kept from vigorously boiling to prevent beans from bursting open.

Researchers concluded a little salt goes a long way in improving the overall flavour of beans.

Ready to start cooking with beans? Check out this tasty recipe:

Southwest Bean Salad

  • 1 1/2 Cup Black Beans, cooked
  • 1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 Cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/3 Cup Red Onion, slivered
  • 1/2 of one jalapeño, seeded, minced
  • 1 Cup Corn, toasted
  • 1 Cup, Bell Pepper, diced

Southwest Lime Dressing

  • 1/3 Cup Lime Juice, fresh
  • 1/4 Cup Canola Oil
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 tsp Cumin, dry ground
  • 1/2 tsp Salt

In a large mixing bowl, all add ingredients for Bean Salad, set aside. In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together ingredients for dressing. Adjust seasoning as desired. Pour dressing over salad, and stir until well coated. Serve immediately, or refrigerate for a few hours, stir again and serve.

Optional additions:

Avocado, chickpeas, cucumber, Cotija Cheese, Quinoa, Grilled Chicken, etc.

Funding for this work was provided by the Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers. Special thanks to Culinary co-op student Aileen Lopez and the Canadian International Grains Institute. Members of the industry advisory group, Tanya Der (Pulse Canada) and Dr. Ning Wang (Canadian Grain Commission) are gratefully acknowledged.

Bump gets a boost from newfound home cooks

May 5, 2020

The rise in home cooking has been hard to miss these past few weeks. Log on to Instagram and you’re likely to scroll through endless images of freshly baked bread, elaborate home-cooked meals, and exquisite desserts. With so many of us staying home, there’s more time to test out recipes and ingredients that were once too intimidating to try.

In the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Winnipeg-based food entrepreneur James Battershill was set to launch a new consumer product. Bump Beef + Plant Blend hit the shelves in mid-March – just as Winnipeg’s first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed.

Not ideal timing, to be sure, but many Winnipeg households now found themselves with a heaping serving of spare time and a dash of curiosity – which made for the winning, if unorthodox, setting for a new product to launch.

Bump kofta samples

“When we first saw the changes that came with the outbreak, we were seeing a lot of people cooking at home and people making their own lunches,” says Battershill. “We were expecting people to make comfort food – ground-beef based food.”

Bump is comfort food, with a twist. The product is geared towards the flexitarian market: people who are looking for alternate forms of protein without cutting meat from their diets altogether. The 70-30 ground beef/plant-based protein blend is the result of nearly two years of product development and experimentation.

While Battershill’s original plan of an aggressive in-store sampling program had to be shelved, the product is still currently available in Vita Health stores across the city. And has proven to be very popular.

“Sales at Vita Health are strong,” says Battershill. “It shows that people want to try something new.”

Juno Food Labs, the company behind Bump, has also started local delivery throughout Winnipeg to meet the demand of hungry consumers. And with warmer temperatures on the horizon, Winnipeggers are also itching to get grilling.

Bump is really great on the grill,” says Battershill. “It’s new and interesting – this will be a new staple to add to the barbecue.”

With extensive work experience in farm-lobbying, Battershill saw there was a gap in the market for a product explicitly designed for the flexitarian consumer. In February 2019, he quit his full-time job to establish Juno Food Labs and focus fully on Bump.

“Most products were entirely plant-based and aimed at vegetarians and vegans,” he says. “There was nothing specifically for people who still eat meat.”

Bump started where many food start-ups do: in the home kitchen. Battershill experimented to see how plant proteins and meats work together, initially using family and friends to taste-test the results. With positive feedback across the board, he approached Red River College’s Prairie Research Kitchen team in November 2018 to undertake an applied research project to determine the optimal product formulation.

James Battershill (at right, speaking) and Anna Borys (preparing Bump kofta) at the Prairie Research Kitchen grand opening

The Prairie Research Kitchen team has a blended background of food science and research, which made them the perfect team to bring Bump to the next level. The initial project involved ingredient selection, hydration, and ratio refinement of animal to plant proteins.

Prairie Research Kitchen research manager Heather Hill designed an extensive series of trials to determine the ideal ingredients and blending process. The project also integrated culinary students through recipe development to determine the functionality and flavour of the final Bump formulation.

“It was a surprisingly complex project considering the ingredient varieties and processing options,” Hill reports. “Our team did a thorough investigation to ensure the two protein sources blended consistently to meet consumer expectations when compared to pure ground beef.”

The resulting product performed well in production and sensory trials. The students initially developed four recipes to test taste and functionality, including a tasty Bump kofta kebab created by former co-op student and current research assistant, Anna Borys (see recipe below).

“It was a really positive experience,” says Battershill. “The Culinary Research team took the product from an idea to something that was refined and ready for commercialization.”

Anna Borys prepares Bump kofta at the Prairie Research Kitchen

While the new shift in daily routine can’t be ignored, Battershill notes that the current stay-home measures haven’t affected Juno Food Labs too much.

“Our team has always worked remotely, only now we have a more limited number of taste testers when we’re working on new recipes!” he says with a laugh.

For more information and recipes, visit eatbump.com.

Read more on Battershill’s work at the Prairie Research Kitchen in the Winnipeg Free Press.

 

Bump Beef + Plant Kofta Recipe

by Chef Anna Borys

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Bump
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 cup onion, grated
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander, ground
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 tsp allspice, ground
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne, ground
  • 1/8 tsp ginger, ground
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, ground
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup of panko (or gluten-free) breadcrumbs

Directions:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Using clean hands (and gloves if you prefer), mix well. Ensure the spices are well distributed.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for minimum 20 minutes (or up to one day).
  4. Divide the meat into six-eight equal-sized portions. Form meat mixture portions into logs or pucks. You can form them on metal or soaked bamboo skewers.
  5. Grill on high heat or fry on medium high for 12-15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 74ºC (165ºF).
  6. Let rest for five minutes before serving.

Note: Serve with a variety of sides such a pita, tzatziki sauce, hummus, Greek salad, tabbouleh or couscous.

You can find the full video of the method up on RRC’s Instagram. Follow along and post your own recipes! Tag us @redrivercollege and use the hashtag #RRChomechef.

Government of Canada announces available funding for the IRAP Innovation Assistance Program

April 22, 2020

On April 17, 2020, the Government of Canada announced $250 million in funding for the Innovation Assistance Program (IAP) to assist Canadian small and medium-sized  enterprises (SMEs).

IRAP IAP provides a wage subsidy to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks.

SMEs pursuing technology-driven innovation who have been unable to secure funding under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) are eligible and can apply for financial assistance under IRAP IAP.

The call for applications will close April 29, 2020.

For more information about the program please click here.

Here is the link to the application portal: https://nrc-covid-19.microsoftcrmportals.com/en-CA/

NSERC launches funding opportunity for Applied Research Rapid Response to COVID-19

April 15, 2020

NSERC (the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) has launched a funding opportunity for applied research rapid response to COVID-19.

The grant will provide up to $75,000.00 for one year and will use some of the College and Community Social Innovation Fund (CCSIF) framework and application form. Applications are expected to respond to one of the following:

  • Assisting industry with production challenges to address COVID-19 (e.g., prototyping, enhanced production processes, repurposing of existing manufacturing infrastructure for production of new products, data analytics relating to the COVID-19 outbreak, etc.).
  • Contributing to the solution of community innovation challenges (health, social, policy) of immediate relevance to the COVID 19 outbreak (e.g. impact of social isolation on vulnerable populations, implementation of community social distancing policies, addressing mental health impacts of COVID-19, changing scope of policies and regulations, etc.).

Applications will be accepted in the NSERC Online system until June 1, pending availability of funds.

For more details, please visit: www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/Innovate-Innover/CCI-COVID_eng.asp

TACAM lends assets and expertise to fight against COVID-19

April 2, 2020

A typical day for RRC’s Technology Access Centre for Aerospace & Manufacturing (TACAM) includes working alongside aerospace and manufacturing industry partners to address local innovation needs.

But these are not typical days. In response to the global fight against COVID-19, TACAM is using their assets and expertise to support an important partner, CancerCare Manitoba, in the production of much-needed medical equipment.

File photo from RRC’s Nursing program

Responding to a need for more IV poles, TACAM is currently supporting the production of 100 new wheelbases for the poles. Specifically, the team is helping to manufacture 500 castor mounts for the wheelbases, which require 5 castor mounts per wheelbase.

“We’re proud to be able to leverage our assets and expertise in digital manufacturing to support CancerCare Manitoba and the incredible work they’re doing,” says Dele Ola, Ph.D., P.Eng., Director, TACAM. “We are prepared to help to support our healthcare system during this critical time in any way we can.”

While CancerCare Manitoba is well-resourced to manufacture their own equipment, the short timeframe and sheer scale of equipment required means they need to outsource certain aspects of the IV pole production. TACAM’s capabilities are well-suited to the large-scale and rapid production of equipment like the IV pole wheelbases.

“CancerCare Manitoba appreciates the ability of RRC’s TACAM to support us in the manufacturing of these components,” says Keith Sutherland, Business and Innovation Officer at CancerCare Manitoba. “TACAM’s specialized machinery allows for quicker manufacturing, which allows us to get the required IV poles into the hands of hospital staff much quicker than if we had to manufacture them on our own.”

TACAM has also signed up with Health Canada as a potential supplier of services should they need help in manufacturing medical equipment and/or devices, and have responded to a call from the National Research Council Canada (NRC), which asked to share TACAM’s capabilities in case additional support for medical equipment and devices is required.

TACAM’s capabilities include additive manufacturing/3D printing, reverse engineering, and many aspects of advanced digital manufacturing that can be quickly deployed in the production of articles needed in the fight against COVID-19.

What we’re doing is working… from home

April 1, 2020

Exploring new culinary equipment while social distancing

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, many staff at Red River College are practicing social distancing by working from home. While this transition can be fairly straight-forward for some, what about programs that are more “hands-on,” that require access to equipment and materials beyond a computer?

For Anna Borys of the Prairie Research Kitchen, working from home gives her the time and space to explore the Foodini – a piece of equipment that, until recently, the Culinary Research team had little time to explore.

Just one of the modern pieces of equipment that’s housed in the Prairie Research Kitchen, the Foodini is a 3D printer for food. It’s capable of printing consistent, detailed designs – “like a super-smart piping bag,” says Anna.

Not much bigger than a microwave, the Foodini is relatively portable, which made it the perfect device to experiment with from Anna’s home kitchen.

“It’s a very simply thought-out machine in terms of how it’s built,” says Anna.

The Foodini features a built-in Android tablet with pre-loaded software that includes suggestions for recipes, though any chef is welcome to upload their own creations or hook up another device – which Anna recently did to print a candy version of the Winnipeg Jets logo.

Once the recipe is ready, the next step is to load up the canister (there are five altogether) with ingredients and hit “print.”

The machine is typically marketed to restaurants and bakeries, but also hospitals – since it prints soft food, it’s helpful for patients who have trouble swallowing.

“I’ve been working with it to explore prototyping uses in culinary research,” says Anna.

Anna is exploring the Foodini’s capabilities from home, investigating how she can leverage the device to benefit clients of the Prairie Research Kitchen. So far, she’s used it to print mashed potatoes shaped like flowers, pizza crust, filled cookies, and stuffed burger patties.

She’s also explored printing designs in chocolate, which is tricky since chocolate hardens so quickly. However, she was able to print a pretty accurate (and tasty) depiction of the RRC logo.

One obvious benefit of the Foodini is its precision and visually pleasing results, which makes for beautiful food photography and eye-catching marketing opportunities for clients. Other uses may include testing botanicals in different food systems.

Anna’s photography skills are coming in handy with another of her working-from-home assignments. She’s working, from a distance, with a student from RRC’s Hospitality program on developing cocktail and mocktail recipes for a client.

“The student is doing a project from home that requires some mixology,” says Anna. “She has to come up with four or five drink recipes. I’ve instructed her to write them in a way that someone who doesn’t mix cocktails could understand.”

The student then relays the recipes to Anna, who concocts the drinks and takes photos of them at her home studio.

“It’s like a trust-building exercise,” says Anna. “We’re working apart, but towards the shared goal of having the same end product.”

MotiveLab™ featured on The Hill’s “Global Lenses: Canada” series

March 5, 2020

MotiveLab™, Red River College’s vehicle research facility, was recently featured on The Hill‘s Global Lenses: Canada series, sponsored by Invest in Canada.

The 7,000 square-foot test facility includes a climatic chamber that can reach temperature highs of + 50 C or lows of – 40 C, no matter the outdoor temperature. The lab was the perfect setting for The Hill’s recent feature, “Cold Starts in Canada.”

From The Hill:

“Canada has long been a hub for cold weather transport testing. Now it’s becoming an incubator for technologies that test alternative fuels and high-efficiency vehicles in extreme environments. That tracks with Canada’s ranking as first among G20 countries on the Global Cleantech Innovation Index. At Red River College in Winnipeg, researchers are helping global companies warm up to a brighter clean tech future by investing in Canada.”

Check out the video by clicking the image above, or by visiting their website.

 

Inaugural Early Career Researcher Day – Thursday, February 27

February 10, 2020

The University of Winnipeg and The University of Manitoba are pleased to invite all Early Career Researchers to attend Early Career Researcher Day.

Location: Convocation Hall – The University of Winnipeg, 515 Portage Avenue

Date & Time: February 27, 2020, 9:00am – 3:00pm (suggested arrival by 8:45)

RSVP: Please email j.orr@uwinnipeg.ca to confirm attendance (and dietary requirements) **by February 14th, 2020**

Registration: FREE – lunch provided (please RSVP)

Early Career Researcher Day is the first event of its kind in Manitoba. The University of Winnipeg and The University of Manitoba are jointly holding the event to bring emerging researchers together with experienced grant writers and funding experts where, together, they will interactively explore the research lifecycle.

Experts from the University of Winnipeg, The University of Manitoba, Mitacs, and Research Manitoba, among others, will participate in info sessions, panels, and workshops, to provide information and support attendees throughout the day. Attendees will jointly develop original research project ideas in order to engage with the entire research lifecycle.

The event presents a unique opportunity for early career researchers to:

  • Develop new partnerships
  • Workshop a project idea with the support of experts
  • Think beyond the proposal to convey competence and feasibility

Please note:

  • Anyone who considers themselves an Early Career Researcher or who is interested in participating is welcome to attend
  • Participants who cannot attend the full day are encouraged to RSVP for the morning or afternoon session alone

Please click here to learn more.

Anna Borys wins CEM Co-op Student of the Year Award for placement with Prairie Research Kitchen

January 31, 2020

When Anna Borys signed up for the Culinary Arts program at Red River College’s School of Hospitality, she wasn’t sure where it would take her – she just knew she didn’t want to work in a restaurant.

“I went into culinary school knowing I didn’t want to work in food services,” she says. “But I didn’t know what else was out there.”

Having worked for her family’s glass business for 10 years before going back to school, Anna had developed a taste for the nine-to-five lifestyle – a schedule the fast-paced service industry doesn’t always allow.

This confusion about her future left her in a bit of a pickle, until she started her co-op work placement with RRC’s Culinary Research team, which operates out of the Prairie Research Kitchen on the 11th floor of the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute (PGI). Anna credits her co-op placement with determining her career path.

Anna first encountered the Culinary Research team while cooking her way through Culinary School. The team would often pop up in her labs and classrooms – working with instructors and making presentations to students about the work they do with clients in the food development industry.

“When they told us they work on developing recipes and that they were looking for co-op students, I knew right away that’s what I wanted to do,” says Anna.

Now, after successfully completing her co-op placement, Anna has started working full-time with the Research team.

One of her first projects was working on a new consumer food product called Bump – a ground beef/plant protein blend aimed at the flexitarian market – with James Battershill from Juno Food Labs. Anna developed a delicious Bump kofta kebab recipe that’s a hit with the client (and everyone else who’s tasted it).

“Working on the Bump kofta is definitely a highlight for me,” says Anna. “It’s one of the first recipes I worked on, and the client now uses it as a sample. It’s quick, delicious, and shows how versatile the product is.”

Anna’s food photography highlights a pie whipped up in the Prairie Research Kitchen

An avid photographer, Anna started an Instagram account to document what two years of the RRC Culinary Arts program is like. She says one of the most rewarding aspects of her co-op is taking food photos for clients like James, who often end up using them for their own marketing purposes.

Anna’s hard work is now being rewarded, as she was recently named the Co-operative Education Manitoba (CEM) Co-op Student of the Year Award for 2019.

“This award shows how important this industry is,” she says. “It’s up and coming. The Culinary Research program is pretty new at Red River College, so this recognition is huge for the research program.”

She’s also no stranger to winning awards – Anna took home the second-place prize at last year’s Applied Research & Innovation Day for her soy-free tempeh project, which she developed alongside the Culinary Research team. She’ll also graduate at the top of her class at next week’s convocation ceremony and is preparing to apply for the National Co-Op Student Award.

Anna at Applied Research & Innovation Day 2019

Despite her success, Anna is quick to credit the amazing team she worked with for helping her get where she is.

“I really don’t feel like this is my award,” she says. “It’s our award. This wouldn’t have happened without Mavis, Heather, and Kyle from Culinary Research – this showcases our teamwork. I don’t want to take credit, it’s our credit.”

Now her co-op experience has come full circle, as she’s helping to mentor the next wave of Culinary Arts students who are working in the Prairie Research Kitchen. She continues to be an advocate of the co-op process and shares her experience regularly with students.

“The co-op program is the reason for my career path,” she says. “This award, my success – this all has to do with my co-op and working with Culinary Research.”