THE kitchen of the future will contain self-cleaning cutlery and food pills, because in 50 years time we'll be cooking from hologram cookbooks, eating a much more varied diet and sharing 3D printed food, predicts a new study.
Kitchens in 2063 will be "intelligent" and multifunctional, says a study published by the forecasting agency Trendstop for Miele, the appliances company.
We'll be wary of eating anything but "hyper-local" produce, the research finds, and will shun supermarkets in favour of fruit and vegetables grown in decorative "food walls" in our own kitchens and gardens, or those of our immediate neighbours.
Computer systems within these walls will be able to minutely control the speed at which our vegetables grow, meaning that if owners take a week's holiday, they can simply opt to digitally slow the growth of their plants by controlling their metabolism.
We'll also breed our own fish in aquariums built into our kitchen walls. If we do buy food from outside sources the packaging will be edible, too, meaning chefs can dice it into the dish they are making alongside its contents.
"Holographic dining" will be normal, with friends and family virtually projected to the same dinner table from around the world. 3D food printer designs will be much more advanced than those scientists are experimenting with today, allowing family members to create ingredients at the touch of a button – a bowl of tomato sauce, say, which can then be passed between others sitting virtually around the table.
The family chef may have cooked the meal from a holographic recipe book which can store videos of old favourites: for example, your grandmother cooking a legendary cake recipe.
Kitchens will look different, too. External walls and roofs will be designed to harness sunlight so that appliances can run off renewable energy.
Walls and furniture will have fewer corners, to encourage cleanliness. Surfaces will be self-cleaning so they can recognise when something is dropped on them and automatically assimilate the foreign substance (as long as it is deemed non-hazardous) to be recycled as plant food.
We may only need one set of cutlery and crockery per person in 2063, as these too will have in-built self-cleaning technology.
The type of food we eat will also change. To illustrate the study's findings, Miele commissioned the chef Ben Spalding, 26, who has previously worked at Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck restaurant, to imagine a futuristic feast set in 2063.
Spalding focused largely on the prediction that we'll have access to a much wider range of flavours in 50 years time, partly because by growing food at home, we will rediscover ingredients that supermarkets currently deem too costly to import commercially.
He created an extraordinarily rich-tasting, 45-ingredient salad, sourcing each ingredient near his home, in London, to illustrate how hyper-locality might work.
The salad included cress grown in a prototype "farmino" machine, one of only two in existence (the other is owned by the Fat Duck), which allows chefs and farmers to control the growth of plants by iPod.
The machines will be "massive" in a few years time, Ben predicts.
More unusual flavours such as aloe vera, fig leaves and tonka beans may all become the norm in our kitchens too, he says.
Another development in the future may be the introduction of hand-held scanners that will automatically assess our bodies' real-time dietary needs.
Once analysed, we'll be able to drink the necessary nutrients in one go in "functional food cocktails", and at some point, Ben believes, we may even reach the stage where we eat everything in pill form.
Until then, our future diets will be lighter – steaming will be the healthy cooking method of choice – and generally more natural, although lab-grown meat will be accepted as normal.
As will eating insects, a much more plentiful and sustainable source of protein than sheep and cows.
There are currently more than 1900 species of edible insects and once we learn to conquer our squeamishness, says Ben, we'll find many of these have interesting flavours – he has already perfected a bug syrup that goes well with meat.
"I want food to be more cave-man-like in the future," he says.
"These combinations may seem really out there and modern but what they'll become is something much more grounded, in essence." Steamed 3D tonka bean cocktail, anyone? – The Daily Telegraph