Naturally nice ice cream proves a winner


Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School student Emily Phillips enjoys her ‘Naturally Nice’ ice cream at the Massey University FoodPilot plant

A local intermediate student had the opportunity to use commercial equipment to produce her innovative ice cream creation at the Massey University FoodPilot plant today.

Palmerston North Intermediate Normal School pupil Emily Phillips, invented the ice cream as part of her science project for the Manawatū Science and Technology Fair in August.

Impressing the judges at the fair, twelve-year-old Emily took home several prizes for her sugar-free ‘Naturally Nice’ ice cream, including the Massey University Science Internship prize.

It was during the Internship Day at the Manawatū campus where Emily enquired whether Massey could help her to make her ice cream on a larger scale. With the help of laboratory technicians Janiene Gilliland and Warwick Johnson, and Professor Matt Golding from the Massey Institute of Food Science and Technology, Emily was able to bring her creation to life.

Using Emily’s formulation, staff at the pilot plant developed a process to make ‘Naturally Nice’ on a semi-commercial scale. The two-day process involved homogenising and pasteurising the mixture, refrigerating it overnight to crystallise the fat then putting it into their commercial ice cream machine to add air and ice, turning it into ice cream.

Six kilograms of ice cream was produced, half of which will be gifted to family and friends. Emily says she loves inventing new foods and the best thing about food science is “getting to eat it all afterwards”.

Professor in food colloids Dr Matt Golding says ice cream is one of the most challenging foods to make, so he was impressed with Emily’s success making it at home.

“I love seeing kids getting inspired by food technology at such a young age. I’m always on the look out for future Massey food technologists.”

The vanilla-flavoured ice cream was described by the self-described ‘ice cream guru’ as “quite fluffy with a lovely texture and a custardy taste”.

The FoodPilot plant was opened in 2008 and is home to one of the largest collections of pilot-scale equipment in the southern hemisphere. Both students and industry use the plant regularly to test and manufacture new food products.

Professor Golding says Massey provides support to industry to get things started without risking huge amounts of money.

“Food is New Zealand’s biggest industry and actually Kiwis are among the top ice cream consumers in the world, so we like to encourage science and creativity in this sector particularly."

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