The ube is a purple yam specifically grown in the Philippines. It has a more mellow taste compared to its orange relative and is commonly known as a purple sweet potato that is sweeter with a nutty, vanilla taste. Often confused with taro, ube can be used in savory dishes but is more commonly used in sweets while taro is often used in making savory dishes. For most Filipinos, no sweet concoction is ever complete without a scoop of the Philippines purple yam.
The History behind Ube.
According to Felice Prudente Sta. Maria, a Filipino food historian who has been gathering histories and information about Filipino cuisine since the 1970s said, “There is no written documentation as to when Filipinos started using ube as a dessert.” However, she did mention that the first Tagalog and Spanish dictionary published in 1613 did mention ube (oruvi) as a type of camote (sweet potato) that belonged to the Convolvulaceae family but was later on classified as a yam, belonging to the Dioscorea family.
In the year of 1918, the second earliest Philippine cookbook included the procedure for making thejalea de calabaza or in other words, pumpkin jam. The procedure for such seemed to hint what may have been done for ube. As Sta. Maria said the process was to “cook it in water until it softens, mash until uniform in texture, add sugar mixed in water and cook over the fire. Coconut milk can be added and cooked in also.”
With its distinct and deep color, ube easily becomes a healthy option when it comes to food coloring. It can be used in cakes, flans, ice-cream, cookies, spreads, crackers, candies, and even savory dishes. Not only it is a natural food coloring, but it also makes desserts and pastries striking to the eye. - Over the years, chefs and bakers have found many creative ways to incorporate ube into their food and it has been a trend ever since.
Ube is also healthy for our bodies! Ube is highly healthy in carbs, vitamins, and fibers. It contains extra high levels of antioxidants that can generally promote our health overall and helps us prevent DNA damages, cardiovascular diseases, and even cancer! - As additional information, Ube is also high on potassium and contains vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E. It fosters a good environment for probiotic bacteria and not to forget ube also promotes anti-aging!
With that said, it doesn’t mean that we should go wild on ube-centered desserts! Ube does not outweigh the other ingredients commonly added such as a high amount of sugar and fat. So we should always enjoy ube-flavored desserts as you would with any other sweet treats.
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