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Lecturers and students from Otago Polytechnic's food design and engineering departments have teamed up to develop a new way of creating edible fruit and vegetable replicas with a twist.
The work, believed to be a New Zealand first, began with the creation of food-grade silicone moulds at the polytechnic's Dunedin campus, lecturer Timothy Lynch said.
The moulds could then be used to create edible works of art more quickly, and at a lower cost, than possible previously, he said.
The result was a series of edible fruit and vegetable replicas that took on some unusual properties - such as a dahl curry encased in turmeric chocolate and presented in a miniature pumpkin shell, senior lecturer Tony Heptinstall said.
Or how about an apple pie smoothie, presented in an apple hanging from a tree, and all of it edible?
''The process involves working with natural products to design handcrafted foods that look identical to fruit and vegetables but are filled with contrasting flavours,'' Mr Lynch said.
The work would be showcased for two days, beginning today, in an edible ''garden'' of 3600 products at Britomart's Takutai Square.
The project was the result of a ''technical challenge'' laid down by Sanitarium, which also offered a range of non-dairy products used in the recipes.
Asked if the exercise was part of the company's push into a non-dairy market, Sanitarium general manager Rob Scoines said the company was ''continually innovating'' and hoped to inspire others to as well.
Mr Lynch said the exercise had been ''a real No8 wire situation'' for Otago Polytechnic departments, and ''a real collaboration''.