A refreshing new take on sweet potato

16th June 2021 | Eativity editors

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 Australia’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.

Hort Innovation staff members Olivia Nucifora and Lauren Jones at the sweet potato ice cream stand
Hort Innovation staff members Olivia Nucifora and Lauren Jones at the sweet potato ice cream stand.

“It’s an exciting time to be in the sweet potato industry,” she says. “Sweet potato is a staple on Aussie dinner plates. But now 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. The development of ice cream and other products has the potential to use vegies traditionally considered too “ugly” for sale. Otherwise, they would ultimately end up as livestock feed or in landfill.

Australian sweet potato
Supercharge your meals with bright and beautiful Aussie sweet spuds.

Up your veg intake with sweet potato

Sweet potatoes aren’t just delicious and versatile; they also contain nutrients like vitamin B5. This is great for mental performance and to combat fatigue. Further, they’re a rich source of fibre, beta carotene and vitamin C.

“Vitamin C is important for a healthy immune system,” says Hort Innovation sweet potato advocate Samantha Parker. “It’s also an antioxidant, which means it’s good for overall health, collagen formation and the absorption of iron.”

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. Eighty-eight percent of this is produced in Queensland, mainly in Bundaberg and Rockhampton.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that 96 percent of us aren’t eating the recommended five serves of vegies each day. Sweet potato ice cream could well be a deliciously different way to get some more Aussie veg into your day.