“The taste isn’t bad too.” [Serge]
“Indeed. But it doesn’t appear as though you’ve merely powderized the tea leaves.” [Pioro]
The tea that I prepared for them is a magical reproduction of the freeze-dry method to remove water content and turn the tea leaves into powder. There are many appealing points to such a product, but it’s a bit more nuanced as to whether it can actually produce enough profit to match the production costs or not. That’s why…
“It would be fortunate if these could sell too, but the production method is a problem. This is an application of pharmaceutical technology, but what if the same could be done to other dishes? Of course, under the assumption that said dish could be drank after pouring hot water and that there’d be little change to the taste despite being preserved.” [Ryouma]
“That would be interesting.” [Serge]
“This method removes water content without heating, so it should be applicable to many things. Soups are a given, but it should also be usable for boiled and cooked rice, noodles, and beans. It should also be useful for drying herbs and fruits.
But of course, it’s not without its downsides. I personally made these using my own magic, but if we want to mass produce these, we’ll need a magic tool craftsman to create a tool with the same effect, and then continuously fuel that tool with precious magic stones. The mana consumption is quite high, so the cost of the production method is bound to add up. In the end, the resulting product will be a luxury.” [Ryouma]
Ice magic stone will be needed for the freeze-dry method, but such magic stones are expensive even when small. Needless to say, the reason is because such stones are often used to preserve food and for air-conditioning.
They’re especially important to the nobles and high-end restaurants during the summer, so they buy them up at high prices, leading to high demand all year. The consumption of ice stones does go down during the winter, but they’re good for preserving things too, so even then the price doesn’t go down by much.
Neutral attribute magic stones can also operate ice attribute magic tools, but the mana efficiency will plummet. Though it will still vary from stone to stone and tool to tool, but the difference compared to ice magic stones is so great that just being three times worse off is actually considered good.
Also, spray-dry is actually more commonly used than freeze-dry when making powdered tea, but when I consulted Dinome-san about making such a tool, he said that it would be even more complicated and expensive than the freeze-dry tool, and the magic stone consumption would shoot up too.
“Even if it’s expensive, as long as the product is good, it might still be marketable to the wealthy and the nobles. In fact, there are a lot of people that don’t eat preserved food, and prefer to bring the ingredients and a chef with them instead, but of course, that’s not something that everyone can do.
But yes, if this is to be made available to the general public, an affordable way to mass-produce them needs to be found, and then they need to be sold at a price that even the general public can afford, while still producing profits. I’m sure that’s the direction you were thinking of. In that regard, your preserved food are more feasible than this tea.” [Pioro]
“Sigh~ You said so much to get our attention, and yet… You shouldn’t tease us so much, Ryouma.” [Pioro]
“Fu fu fu… That just means we’ll have be especially harsh when scrutinizing the new ‘feasible’ preserved food.” [Kurana]
“Ha ha ha…” [Ryouma]
I’m confident in my Retort Pack. In fact, it’s exceeded my own expectations.
Though I have to say that having a beauty of Kurana-san’s caliber smile at me like that really makes one nervous. It’s a little scary too…
“Well, it is still in the trial stages, so I’d actually be grateful if you could scrutinize it thoroughly. It’s already taken shape, but I believe there’s still room for improvement.”
While we were talking like that, the prototype Retort Pack finally finished heating.
“Pardon the intrusion. The food has finished heating. They’re hot, so please be careful.” [Maid]
The three maids set the table with deep plates and distributed the pouches we chose.
First, I cut open the top of my pouch with a knife, then poured the contents onto my plate.
There’s a coating similar to the hardening liquid sheet in the cloth, so opening it with bare hands is difficult.
After seeing how I opened my pouch, the three guests followed suit and opened their retort pack with a knife, then they poured the contents onto their plate and examined it.
“Ohh… Was this really made a few months ago? Not only has it not rotten, it’s releasing such a delicious aroma too. It’s almost as though it was made just recently.” [Serge]
Serge-san openly showed his interest, but the other two, who specialized in handling food items, quietly and quickly took a spoonful of theirs to taste.
They spent a few seconds thoroughly tasting it before gently nodding.
“Delicious. A proper ‘dish’.” [Pioro]
“Yes, nothing like jerky or pickled food.” [Kurana]
“In that case, I’ll have some myself… Oh! When I was peddling I’ve often had to eat preserved food, but I got sick of them, so I tried cooking real food, many times even, but they never really turned out well. They always ended up tasting simple and messy. Had this been on the market then, I would have likely purchased them even if they were a little expensive. To be able to preserve taste this good for three months, that’s remarkable.” [Serge]
“Actually, regarding shelf life, we just started ‘production’ of the prototypes approximately three months ago, so the oldest we’ve got is just three months, but in practice, they should be able to last even longer. Provided that there’s no damage to the pouch, we expect that there won’t be much of a change to the taste even a year from production.” [Ryouma]
After tasting the food, the Saionji husband and wife shared their brief impression, then Serge-san dug in and gave his own impression.
There seemed to be a misunderstanding regarding the shelf life, so I clarified it for them, causing them to open their eyes wide.
“One year, huh. That’s fairly long.” [Pioro]
“We’ve yet to test it, but theoretically, it should be possible.” [Ryouma]
After all, there’s precedent in Japan that’s in circulation, so as long as I’m able to nail the main points down and reproduce the technology well, it should be able to last that long.
“It’s ready.” [Maid]
The efficient maids brought in pots that they’ve prepared.
“Inside these pot are potatoes and beans boiled in water preserved in a similar way as those dishes, but without any of the seasonings.” [Ryouma]
The production method is the same, but they’re better suited to be called a Boiled Pack than a Retort Pack.
If you add the freeze-dried ‘soup base’ to a soup and mix them, you’ll get an ‘instant potatoes and beans soup’.
You could also toss these into the dried noodles that have been boiled in another pot and add the retort sauce, and suddenly, you have ‘tomato sauce pasta’.
I’m sure they’ve noticed it already, but by showing them two more dishes prepared so quickly, they should understand that the Retort Pack wasn’t just good for preserving food. True enough, the gaze they looked at me with had already grown stronger.
“This technology can be used as food for long-distance travels, but it can also be used to store up food for emergencies, to provide rations to adventurers and soldiers, and by changing the contents, they can also be used to provide food for nobles or ill people requiring a strict diet.” [Ryouma]
When I’m sick and can’t cook for myself easily, having a ‘porridge’ that’s easy to eat is a lifesaver.
There are things people can’t eat while sick, and preparing food while under such restrictions is a laborious and time-consuming effort.
It’s even harder to make such food taste good.
Perhaps that’s not such a big deal to the wealthy or to the nobles who can afford to hire specialized chefs. But for everyone else, their daily lives would suffer. Humans can’t live without eating, so the problem of food is an issue to humans as long as they live.
In that regard, I’m sure this food preservation technology would have a powerful effect. At least, I strongly believe that.
“I’ll be speaking about this with the Jamil family as well. Unfortunately, they’re busy right now, so it won’t be till next year before I can report to them. Though in any case, more tests need to be performed, and we still need to see exactly just how long the food can be preserved.” [Ryouma]
Once I have more data, I can sell the production method and rights to the duke’s family. I won’t mind having them manage it completely themselves, in fact, it’s probably best that way. The rights to the Retort Pack is simply far too big for a commoner without peerage.
“But should the production of these as food goods be approved, I would like to request everyone’s help. What do you think?” [Ryouma]
Apparently, they’ve already made up their mind.
“There’s no way we could turn you down, now could we? I don’t know what kind of decision the duke, Reinhart-sama, will make, but so long as the decision to sell goes through, we’ll support you with all of our strength!” [Pioro]
“Food is beyond my field of expertise, but I can surely be involved in the distribution and improvement of pouches that utilize the waterproof cloth. We just built the factories, but it appears we might need to build more.” [Serge]
Serge-san and Pioro-san happily replied.
Serge-san even added a joke at the end there. He seems eager.
“How much preparatory time do you think will be necessary if the pouch is to be mass produced?” [Ryouma]
“If it’s just a small number of prototypes, we can start at anytime, but mass production will likely be from spring next year onwards. The factories are already at max capacity just working on the normal waterproof cloths, the raincoats made from them, and the rubber products like the anti-slip that you told me about recently.” [Serge]
“As I thought, everyone’s prioritizing dealing with the snow.” [Ryouma]
“Yes… But fortunately, there’s plenty of demand, so there’s no problem with the financing. Once the demand for snow supplies calms down, I believe we’ll be able to allocate people for your pouch. In fact, I’ll be preparing now, so that we can mobilize as soon as the duke’s order comes out.” [Serge]
“i see, but there’s no reason to hurry.” [Ryouma]
After that we continued to examine the taste of the Retort Pack, while talking about their uses and ways to sell them. Serge-san and I also talked about the products that could be produced at his factory. Like that I consulted my three guests regarding various matters while enjoying a peaceful meal.
But even our little meeting eventually came to an end.
“Thank you for today.” [Ryouma]
“Don’t mention it, it was delicious! Not to mention, exciting!” [Pioro]
“Ryouma-han, thank you so much for today.” [Kurana]
Good times always pass in the blink of an eye.
This will probably be our last meeting for this year.
It feels regretful when I think of it in that way, but everyone is really busy.
Because of that I felt like I should at least see them off, so I left the room with them, but then…
“Morgan-dono, are you done?” [???]
Outside the door were five armed men waiting. They had surrounded the door to the meeting room.