What Is Ube? Unveiling the Purple Mystery

What Is Ube
12 min reading time

Have you ever come across a vibrant purple dessert or dish and wondered what is ube? Well, chances are, it might be Ube! Ube is a root vegetable that is well-known for its naturally occurring deep purple color, making it a popular ingredient in many Filipino dishes and desserts. But what exactly is Ube, and what makes it so special?

Key Takeaways

  • Ube is a root vegetable with a deep purple color, commonly used in Filipino cuisine and desserts.
  • Ube is an important ingredient in traditional Filipino sweets like Ube Halaya and Ube Pan de Sal.
  • Ube is rich in antioxidants, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals, making it a beneficial addition to any diet.
  • Ube is available in different varieties with variations in taste, texture, and color.
  • Ube has cultural significance in Filipino traditions and celebrations.

The Definition of Ube

Ube (pronounced OO-beh) is a purple yam that is a popular ingredient in Filipino cuisine. Its botanical name is Dioscorea alata, and it is also known as purple yam, water yam, and winged yam. Ube is a staple in many Filipino dishes, including desserts, as well as in some savory dishes.

Ube has a sweet and nutty flavor, similar to that of pumpkin or sweet potato. Its vibrant purple color makes it a popular ingredient in visually striking desserts.

Ube in Desserts

ube halaya

One of the most popular uses of Ube is in desserts, particularly in traditional Filipino sweets such as Ube Halaya and Ube Pan de Sal. Ube’s natural sweetness and vibrant purple color offer a unique and exotic flavor to any dessert. If you’re looking to incorporate Ube into your dessert creations, try these delicious recipes:

Ube Halaya
  • 2 lbs Ube, boiled and mashed
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup toasted grated coconut (optional)

Mix all the ingredients in a pan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Transfer into a greased dish and let cool. Serve topped with toasted grated coconut, if desired.

Ube Pan de Sal
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup Ube powder
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • breadcrumbs

Mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Dissolve yeast in warm water and add to the flour mixture. Add Ube powder, warm milk, melted butter, and beaten egg to the bowl. Mix well until the dough forms. Knead the dough for 10 minutes until smooth. Let the dough rise for 1-2 hours. Form small balls of dough and roll them in breadcrumbs. Place them on a baking sheet and let rise again for 30 minutes. Bake at 350°F for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Try out Ube in Desserts for a Unique and Exotic Flavor

Ube can also be used in other desserts like cakes, ice creams, and even cheesecakes. Its versatility makes it a favorite ingredient among chefs and bakers alike. Experiment with Ube and bring your desserts to life with its vibrant purple hue and delicious sweetness.

Ube Plant

The Ube plant, also known as purple yam, is a species of yam that belongs to the Dioscoreaceae family. Scientifically known as Dioscorea alata, the Ube plant is native to Southeast Asia and is widely cultivated in tropical regions around the world, including the Philippines. The Ube plant is a perennial crop with a tuberous root that varies in size, shape, and color, but is generally cylindrical, elongated, and covered with a rough skin.

The Ube plant can grow up to 6-8 feet tall.It prefers warm and humid climates with a temperature range of 77-86 F and well-drained soil.
The leaves of the Ube plant are heart-shaped and are dark green in color.The Ube plant requires regular watering and fertilization for optimal growth and yield.
The Ube plant flowers in spikes and produces small greenish-yellow flowers.The Ube plant is propagated through stem cuttings or by using tubers as planting material.
The Ube root is rich in starch and has a sweet, nutty flavor.The Ube plant takes 6-8 months to mature and produces tubers that can weigh up to 5 pounds.

Ube is a versatile crop that can be prepared and consumed in a variety of ways. It is used extensively in Filipino cuisine, where it is a staple ingredient in many traditional dishes. Ube is also gaining popularity in other parts of the world, where it is being cultivated and used as a substitute for other forms of yam or sweet potato.

Health Benefits of Ube

Ube is not only a delicious addition to desserts, but it also provides numerous health benefits. Here are some of the benefits of incorporating ube in your diet:

Rich in AntioxidantsUbe contains high levels of antioxidants, which can protect the body against free radicals and oxidative stress, reducing the risk of chronic diseases.
High Fiber ContentOne serving of Ube has about 2-3 grams of fiber, which helps regulate digestion, prevent constipation, and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Essential Vitamins and MineralsUbe is rich in potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A and C, which support healthy bones, skin, and immune function. It also contains iron, which helps transport oxygen throughout the body.

Incorporating Ube into your diet can provide a variety of health benefits and add a pop of color to your meals.

Ube Nutrition

Ube is not only a pleasure for the eyes and taste buds but also a nutritious addition to your meals. With its vibrant purple color and sweet flavor, ube is packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

One cup of cooked ube contains around 140 calories and 2 grams of protein. It is also a good source of fiber, with 3 grams per serving, which can help improve digestion and promote satiety.

NutrientAmount per Serving
Vitamin C22% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin A6% of DV
Potassium6% of DV

Ube is also rich in antioxidants, including anthocyanins and phenolic compounds, which help protect the body against oxidative stress and inflammation. These antioxidants may also have anti-cancer properties and support heart health.

In addition, ube is a good source of essential nutrients such as iron and calcium, which are important for maintaining healthy bones and blood cells. It also contains vitamin B6, which supports brain function and helps convert food into energy.

Overall, adding ube to your diet is an excellent way to boost your nutrient intake and enjoy a tasty treat at the same time.

Different Varieties of Ube

Ube comes in various varieties, each with a unique shade of purple and flavor profile. Some of the most popular Ube varieties include:

VarietyColorFlavor Profile
UBI JALARDeep purpleEarthy, nutty flavor
UBI QUEENLight purpleSubtle sweetness, milder taste
UBI PAGONGDark purpleSweet and starchy flavor

Some Ube varieties are naturally sweeter than others. For example, Ubi Pagong is known for its high sugar content and is often used in desserts. Ube Queen, on the other hand, has a milder taste and is commonly used in savory dishes.

Regardless of the variety, one thing is certain: Ube’s rich purple color makes any dish look visually stunning and adds a unique flavor profile to any recipe.

The Origin of Ube

Ube has a long and fascinating history that can be traced back to its native Southeast Asia, where it was first discovered and cultivated. Over time, the plant made its way to the Philippines, where it has become a beloved and essential ingredient in Filipino cuisine.

According to historians, Ube was brought to the Philippines by early Austronesian settlers, who used it in a variety of culinary and medicinal applications. Over the centuries, Ube has become deeply ingrained in Filipino culture and is often associated with special occasions and celebrations.

In the Philippines, Ube is known by many names, including “ubi” and “kalabasa,” and is grown throughout the archipelago. It has become such an integral part of the culture that there are even festivals and events dedicated to celebrating this vibrant purple root vegetable.

Ube’s Cultural Significance

Ube is more than just a unique and delicious ingredient, it holds significant cultural importance in Filipino cuisine and traditions. In fact, it has become a symbol of Filipino identity, especially during special occasions.

During the Christmas season, Ube is a staple in Filipino households, with its bright purple color adding a festive touch to traditional desserts like bibingka and puto bumbong. Ube is also commonly used in celebrations such as weddings and birthdays, where it represents happiness, prosperity, and good fortune.

Furthermore, Ube has a connection to Filipino history and heritage. It is believed that the indigenous Aeta people of the Philippines were the first to cultivate and use Ube. As such, it has become a source of pride and a reminder of the country’s rich cultural heritage.

Today, Ube continues to be an integral part of Filipino cuisine and culture, with its popularity only increasing as more people discover its unique flavor and beautiful color.

Ube’s Rising Popularity

While Ube has long been a staple of Filipino cuisine, its striking hue and unique flavor have recently gained popularity outside of its homeland. The popularity of Ube desserts and recipes has exploded on social media platforms, and it is not uncommon to see Ube-flavored ice cream, cakes, and other inventive dishes on menus.

The appeal of Ube lies not only in its beautiful purple color but also in its versatility. As an ingredient, it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, making it a favored ingredient among chefs and home cooks alike.

Additionally, the nutritional benefits of Ube have further added to its appeal. Its high antioxidant content, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals make it a healthier alternative to other dessert ingredients.

Whether enjoyed in traditional Filipino sweets or used in experimental culinary creations, Ube’s rising popularity is a testament to its allure and versatility. So, if you haven’t yet tried this exotic ingredient, explore some Ube dessert recipes and experience the magic of this purple mystery yourself.

Ube-Inspired Creations

Ube’s unique flavor and vibrant purple hue have made it a popular ingredient in modern cuisine, inspiring chefs and foodies to experiment with its potential. From bakery items to drinks, here are some imaginative Ube recipes that you can easily recreate:

what is ube-ube icecream
Ube Ice CreamUbe CheesecakeUbe Milkshake
A creamy and luscious ice cream that’s perfect for a hot day.A smooth and decadent cheesecake with a purple twist.A refreshing and indulgent milkshake that will satisfy your sweet tooth.
  • 2 cups of Ube Halaya
  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of Ube Halaya
  • 1 1/2 cups of cream cheese
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups of vanilla ice cream
  • 1 cup of Ube Halaya
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • Whipped cream and Ube chips for garnish
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.
  2. Add the condensed milk, Ube Halaya, vanilla extract, and salt. Mix well.
  3. Transfer the mixture into a freezer-safe container, cover, and freeze for at least 6 hours.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth.
  3. Add the sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, Ube Halaya, and heavy cream. Mix well.
  4. Pour the mixture into a greased 9-inch springform pan and bake for 45-50 minutes.
  5. Let the cheesecake cool completely before serving.
  1. In a blender, blend the vanilla ice cream, Ube Halaya, and milk until smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture into a tall glass and top with whipped cream and Ube chips.

Ube’s versatility doesn’t stop there. You can also use it in pancakes, waffles, bread, and even savory dishes like Ube Fries and Ube Crusted Chicken.


Ube, with its vibrant purple color and mysterious nature, has captured the attention and taste buds of people around the world. This exotic ingredient has a rich history and cultural significance in the Philippines, where it is celebrated and used in traditional sweets and dishes.

Aside from its unique flavor and striking appearance, Ube also boasts several health benefits, including being high in antioxidants, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals.

As Ube gains popularity outside of its homeland, creative uses of this ingredient continue to emerge, with Ube-flavored ice cream, cakes, and other innovative dishes popping up on menus and social media feeds.

Whether you are a fan of traditional Filipino cuisine or simply looking to try something new, Ube is an ingredient worth exploring. Its allure and versatility make it a truly special addition to any dish or dessert.


How is Ube used in desserts?

Ube is commonly used in Filipino desserts, such as Ube Halaya and Ube Pan de Sal. It can also be found in ice cream, cakes, and other sweet treats.

What are the health benefits of Ube?

Ube is rich in antioxidants, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. It provides numerous health benefits, including improved digestion and a strengthened immune system.

What is the nutritional profile of Ube?

Ube is low in calories and contains carbohydrates, protein, and small amounts of fat. It is also a good source of potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin A.

Are there different varieties of Ube?

Yes, there are different varieties of Ube that vary in shade of purple and taste. Some varieties have a more intense flavor, while others are milder.

Where does Ube originate from?

Ube is native to Southeast Asia and has been cultivated in the Philippines for centuries. It is deeply ingrained in Filipino culture and cuisine.

What is the cultural significance of Ube?

Ube holds great cultural significance in Filipino cuisine and celebrations. It is often used during special occasions and symbolizes abundance and good fortune.

Why is Ube becoming more popular outside of the Philippines?

Ube’s unique flavor and vibrant purple color have caught the attention of international food trends and social media. It is now being incorporated into various dishes and desserts around the world.

What are some creative uses of Ube?

Ube has inspired inventive dishes and creations, such as Ube-flavored ice cream, cakes, and even savory dishes like Ube gnocchi.

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