Ice Cream Contest Flavors Focus on Food Trends

be ice cream

Final, dramatic taste test or not, the annual food science student ice cream contest carried on in a virtual event with two winning flavors emerging: Cantina Margarita and Ube.

Cantina Margarita, flavored with tequila, natural lime and blood-orange flavor, features chocolate-covered tortilla chips. The team of students who developed the flavor capitalized on the popularity of margaritas among consumers in major U.S. markets. Note: the alcohol concentration is negligible, leaving the ice cream open to all.

The students who developed the flavor were Elizabeth Cole, Margaret Hibbs, Shannon Kelly, Loren Klein and Emily Newman.

The Ube ice cream was created with extract of the purple yam from the Philippines. “Its presence has become increasingly popular in foods and desserts around the world due to its naturally occurring vibrant hues, high nutritional values and rich sweetness,” the student team said in their presentation. Team members were Winnie Yu, Marina Russo, Joe Ciurleo, Juan Marin and Minh Huynh.

This year the popular food processing course, taught by food science alum Matthew Steffens, partnered with Judy Herrell, owner of Herrell’s Ice Cream in Northampton. She mentored the class, attending lab sessions during which students developed their flavors. She also gave students tours of her store, with a focus on the ice cream-making process and equipment.

Instead of the usual in-person sensory evaluation climaxing the course, the class held a 2 ½-hour Zoom event. Each of the seven teams gave slide presentations on the conception and development of their flavor and background marketing data, as well as food safety, ingredients and process information – all the work that goes into delivering a new product to the marketplace. Some of the teams also had results from initial taste-test surveys with UMass students and community members.

Herrell was so impressed with all the flavors that she said she may try to make each one at some point. She will start by producing the winning flavors she chose. She also announced a tie for second place: Magic Wings, a honey and lavender ice cream named after the butterfly conservatory in South Deerfield, and Salt Bae, a salty/savory ice cream flavored with the herb fenugreek.

“These seven teams went above and beyond, and I’m incredibly proud,” Herrell said. “The ideas are wonderful, and the way they were prepared and presented was frankly magnificent.”