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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Herbal ice cream scoops a top prize

Chinese ingredients such as wolfberry and hawthorn help poly students taste success
The Straits Times - November 18, 2011
By: Feng Zengkun
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Herbal ice cream scoops a top prize Nanyang Polytechnic principal and CEO Chan Lee Mun with ice cream team members Tan Shi Yun (left), 19, and Aw Mei Qi, 19. -- PHOTO: DESMOND LUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A TEAM from Nanyang Polytechnic has scooped the top prize at an international competition for its ice creams flavoured with Chinese herbs.

Six students from the polytechnic's chemical and life sciences school beat giants like Meiji to clinch the prize for best new ice cream at the International Dairy Federation's second Innovation Awards last month.

Another team from the polytechnic won the same prize from the Belgium-based federation last year, for a green tea and aloe vera-flavoured ice cream.

This year, more than 25 countries competed in categories including best new cheese, butter and school milk.

In its two winning recipes, the Nanyang Polytechnic team used wolfberry and hawthorn berry, herbs used to treat high blood pressure and help with digestion. Bits of the herbs and their extracts were blended into ice cream made with milk from free-range cows in Malaysia.

The creation was supported by home-grown traditional Chinese medicine firm Eu Yan Sang Inter-national, which set up a joint laboratory with the school in 2009.

The company will help the team secure a distributor, hopefully within a year.

Eu Yan Sang opened its herb drawers to the students, who chose an initial seven herbs to work with. These included chrysanthemum, monk fruit and cassia seeds.

Some of them were unlikely to succeed from the start: 'Cassia ice cream tasted like raw beans,' said team member Randall How, 20.

But the team experimented on the ices to improve their texture, taste and colour. For example, boiling hawthorn in milk curdled the mixture, so the team extracted the herb's essence and blended it with plain ice cream instead. Other changes were made later, including adding honey to the hawthorn ice cream to soften its sourness.

The two winning entries emerged through three taste tests, each involving 50 to 70 volunteers from the polytechnic.

Mr Richard Khaw, a manager in the food science department, said future teams may look into other herbs, as part of its programme with Eu Yan Sang.

Chinese herb ice creams are not the strangest flavours created here.

In 2008, Island Creamery briefly served up a kungpao chicken-flavoured ice cream.

The Ice Cream Man in Haji Lane currently offers green curry, marmite and tom yum ice creams.



Oh Christmas spree

Cool affair