What is Ube?

‘Ube’, known for its nutty and creamy taste, but most especially for its vibrant purple color, has started to gain popularity in the international food scene as a breakout ingredient when it trended on Instagram as an ingredient in desserts such as ice cream and cakes some years ago.

Ube is native to Southeast Asia (especially to the Philippines) and is a tropical herbaceous vine root crop. Purple yam/winged/greater yam or discorea alata or ube in the Philippines is an important starchy food security crop, especially in the rural areas. It is grown primarily for its roots of tubers. The tubers can be eaten, boiled, baked roasted, flakes, chips and processed into powder while dehydrated yam slices for the preparation of food such as ice cream, cakes, pastries and other desserts. Likewise, ube skin or peeling can be used as raw materials for the manufacture of food coloring.

Ube, pronounced as “oo-beh” is mostly used in desserts like Ube halaya, ice cream, kakanin, halo-halo and other sweets.

Ube is healthy

Ube is rich in carbs, potassium, vitamin C and phytonutrients, all of which are important for maintaining good health. It also contains traces of fat, crude protein, sugar, crude fiber, ash and vitamin B1 and B2.

Ube is organic

Ube has emerged as one of the most favored foods, especially when it comes to desserts nowadays due to the current plant-based food movement. It is often used in place of dairy-based creams and mousses. The Filipino root crop has quickly journeyed from the earths of the Philippine islands to plates around the world conquering social media feeds. The ube products you can find today come from traditional Filipino cuisine as well as modern experiments.

What is unique in ube is its striking purple flesh color and flavor. Oftentimes the raw ube retains its color even after the processed product and its aroma is enhanced during processing unlike other rootcrops. It is one of the most priced tuber crop in the Philippines. It also has a high potential food value and it can be marketed in many forms such as raw ube, powdered ube, ube extract, or ube jam (‘halaya’), among others.

Ube is sustainable

Through diversified and sustainable farming of high-value crops such as ube, local communities have less reason to expand their slash-and-burn into forests or hunt for wildlife to earn a living. Philippine indigenous communities such as the Aeta farmers are focusing in activities that focus on their indigenous knowledge and sustainable farming practices for food security. Ube is one of the most known indigenous food plants.

Ube is not just a trend!
Ube is in the Filipino heritage and soul!

That subtle earthy, nutty and creamy flavour of ube is so versatile it has become known as a breakout ingredient. It has been the source of inspiration for many culinary creations, whether they are savory or sweet.

Ube has indeed conquered the international food scene and Germany is just starting to discover this special crop. But for the Filipinos, ube is much more than an ingredient. It is not just a trend! Ube and its many forms, have been part of Filipino fiesta banquets and special occasions. Ube halaya, ube sorbetes, ube halu-halo, ginataang ube… Filipino all have fond memories of ube!

Ube has a special place in the hearts and palates of Filipinos. It reflects the nation’s intricate history and rich culture. It is part of our heritage, ube is in the Filipino soul.