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Bicol’s unique rimas ice cream

MANILA, Philippines - Ube, strawberry, chocolate, and cheese – these are the usual flavors of one of our favorite desserts of all time, ice cream.

But a new and unusual flavor stood out and made its way to become one of the best innovative products during the 9th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Forum and Product Exhibition in 2013, the rimas ice cream.

“The fruit’s fleshy, succulent endosperm makes rimas a very good raw material in making ice cream,” said Luz Marcelino, manager of the Bicol Integrated Agricultural Research Center (BIARC).

According to Marcelino, rimas ice cream is special with its own unique taste that makes it different from the ones already available in the market.

“It is special in the sense that it can easily blend with other materials that are indigenous to Bicol such as the taro. Its taste and consistency is not altered as you add more flavors to it,” she added.

Dessert lovers and food enthusiasts will surely like the distinct taste and creamy texture of the rimas ice cream.

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As a matter of fact, based on the product acceptability survey conducted during the technology forum, the rimas ice cream gained high acceptance in terms of taste, aroma, texture, and appearance from the evaluators.

Arlene de Asis, chief of BIARC-Product Development Unit, spearheads the preparation of this delightful snack. She likens rimas to sweet potato. “They almost have the same texture, so I used sweet potato as basis in making the different products from rimas,” she said.

“Rimas ice cream is actually very simple and easy-to-prepare. After boiling, just cut them into small chunks and place them inside the blender. Once turned into jam, put all the other ingredients just like making your ordinary ice cream. Cool for six hours, and you already have a delicious tasting ice cream in your refrigerator. In case the fruit is off-season, rimas can be processed into flour, and this is what you can substitute in place of the jam,” De Asis said.

Rimas ice cream is made up of 80 percent rimas meat and comes in many variants: rimas with sweet potato, vanilla, cheese, chocolate, langka, and even with siling labuyo.

Now, they are trying to include taro and pili nut in the mixture, crops that are also abundant in the region.

Targeted to cater to everyone, especially those with a sweet tooth, rimas ice cream, however, is not yet available in the market. “We are still in the process of coming up with the nutrition facts, proper packaging, and labeling to make our product more appealing and competitive. We also plan to link with private companies and train members of coops and women’s organizations in manufacturing the rimas ice cream,” Marcelino said.

R&D project on rimas

A very common fruit that is usually just found in home backyards, rimas is an inexpensive fruit that is popular and abundant in Bicol.

Prepared only by boiling and steaming, rimas is served to children who are used to eating it as a merienda without any flavors added to it except coconut milk and salt and/or sugar.

 “Rimas is one of the fruit trees being given priority in view of the Food Staples Sufficiency Program of the Department of Agriculture,” Marcelino said.

Being rich in carbohydrate, it is highly encouraged to be utilized as an alternative food staple.

Nutritionally speaking, rimas is high in starch, making it a good source of carbohydrate, as well as vitamin C and calcium that could help in addressing malnutrition.

As one of the pioneers of R&D initiatives on rimas, BIARC embarked on a project, “Rimas Biodiversity Research, Conservation, Propagation, and Utilization in Bicol Region” which was funded by BAR and the High Value Crops Development Program of the DA.

It aims to determine the biodiversity of rimas in the Bicol region, to conserve and maintain germplasm collection and propagation of rimas, and to establish a rimas demonstration farm in the different Research Outreach Stations.

Under the utilization component of the project, rimas is being used as an ingredient in many food products through the product development initiatives undertaken by BIARC.

This gave birth to the rimas ice cream and the production of other by-products including caramel candies, pastillas, cheese cupcake, chips, and ginataan.

“Through this project, we can create awareness on the importance of this plant species as a nutritious food and we can develop various products through food processing techniques that could help farmers and groups of people to have an additional source of income,” Marcelino shared.

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