Healthy fruit gums win food innovation prize
Low-sugar and made with fresh fruit and vegetable juices, the confectionery is aimed at school children
Cliodhna Murray (left), and Rachel Ryan, with Dr Noel Murray, Head of Department Tourism and Hospitality, at the Food Product Development Showcase at Cork Institute of Technology
Fruit gums, made from scratch with clever combinations of fresh fruit and vegetables that need very little added sugar, has been chosen as the most innovative food product at Cork Institute of Technology’s Food Product Development Showcase.
Cliodhna Murray and Rachel Ryan, both from Tipperary and final year students on the Bachelor of Business and Culinary Arts degree course, developed a natural fruit confectionery product that has only two teaspoons of agave syrup per 150g.
Starting with fresh fruit and vegetables, which they juice, then set with gelatin, the students developed three varieties of fruit gum. There is a pink one that combines strawberry, raspberry, beetroot and pomegranate; a green one made with apple, elderflower, kiwi, mint and claytonia (a winter leaf, akin to spinach), and an orange one that contains carrot, orange, passion fruit, mint and orange oil.
Working first in their home kitchens and then in the college’s test kitchens, the winners experimented with a wide variety of flavour mixes to reach a selection that was palatable without requiring a lot of added sugar.
Murray and Ryan hope to introduce their product to primary school students through the Food Dudes healthy eating programme, managed by Bord Bia, and to get it into commercial production. “For small children, it’s like eating a piece of fruit,” they say.
The Rubicon Centre at CIT awarded the winners a €4,000 bursary which will allow them to develop their product through the college’s Student Incubation Programme.
Other products that reached the final stages of the competition included cherry smoked black pudding, made to a traditional Polish recipe; Yotta, prosecco flavoured yoghurt panna cotta; Katcha Budda Bowl, a vegan tofu meal; and a layered terrine made with guinea fowl, duck liver and wild mushrooms.
The students worked individually or in groups to develop an innovative food product, backed up by a business plan. A total of 16 products were presented for judging by a panel that included Artie Clifford, chairman of the Blas na hÉireann Irish Food Awards, Michelle Santry of Musgrave Retail Partners Ireland, David Chandler, sales director of Blenders and Julie Delaney, brand manager of Blenders.