A refreshing new take on sweet potato
The humble sweet potato found itself in the midst of hot – or should we say, cold – debate last week, when ice cream featuring the root vegetable was served to more than 1000 people at the nation’s annual Hort Connections event in Brisbane.
Developed by the grower-owned research and development corporation Hort Innovation, the ice cream features a sweet earthy flavour and a half serve of vegies per two scoops.
General Manager of Bundaberg growing outfit Sweet Potatoes Australia, Claire Maslen, says producers are continuously looking for ways to diversify their offering to health-conscious Australians and to encourage the consumption of home-grown produce.
“It’s an exciting time to be in the sweet potato industry,” she says. “While sweet potato is a staple in the meat and three veg on Aussie dinner plates, it’s also emerging as a versatile ingredient for chips and baked goods, and – we never thought we’d see it – ice cream.”
Any effort to cut food waste is always positive, and the development of this ice cream and other products has the potential to use vegies that would traditionally be considered too “ugly” for sale and ultimately end up as livestock feed or in landfill.
Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients, including vitamin B5, which is needed for mental performance and to combat fatigue. They’re also a rich source of vitamin C.
“Vitamin C is important for a healthy immune system, but it’s also an antioxidant, which means it’s good for overall health, collagen formation and the absorption of iron,” says Hort Innovation sweet potato advocate Samantha Parker.
Sweet potatoes are available year-round in Australia. According to the Hort Stats Handbook, more than 106,000 tonnes of sweet potatoes are grown here each year, with 88 percent produced in Queensland, mainly in Bundaberg and Rockhampton.
With Australian Bureau of Statistics data showing that 96 percent of us aren’t eating the recommended five to six serves of vegies each day, sweet potato ice cream could be a deliciously different way to get some more Aussie veg into your day.