Ube jam, also known as Ube Halaya is a Filipino dessert made using purple yam.
It is typically eaten on its own as a pudding or added as a flavor to other desserts like cakes, cookies, ice cream, and just as the name suggests, is also eaten on toast just like jam.
Purple being my favorite color, ube first came to my attention because of its color. I loved the fact that yam could produce such a lovely natural color without any additional artificial coloring.
I grew up eating lots of sweet potatoes and have seen them in cream, orange and purple colors. And when I came across ube online, my first thought was that ube is purple sweet potato. But after much research, I realized ube and sweet potatoes are not the same.
Purple Yam vs Purple Sweet Potato vs Taro
In my quest for learning more about ube, I came across the terms purple yam, purple sweet potato and taro being referred to when explaining what an ube is and which of these categories it belongs to.
So there seems to be a consensus (at least from my understanding) that ube is a yam. But how is yam different from taro? After much reading, I was somehow able to differentiate taro from the yam and the sweet potato.
Taro has a completely different outer skin (dark brown) and has an almost white interior with very light purple spots. In fact, it is what we call ‘keladi’ in Malay (in Malaysia) or ‘yam’ in English.
Purple yam (ube) and purple sweet potatoes have almost identical shapes, outer skin texture (some are dark brown and some lighter brown) and flesh color (both come in vivid purple flesh). And from what I read online, both are said to taste very much the same too.
While I have eaten a lot of purple sweet potatoes growing up, I am not sure if I have eaten purple yam or ube before. From the images I see online (even those originating from the Philipines), both the ube (yam) and purple sweet potatoes seem identical and difficult to differentiate.
I went around looking for purple yams in local stores here and what I got when I asked for yam is actually taro. And then of course there are lots of purple sweet potatoes but not purple yams. My wild guess is that purple yam could be an in-between vegetable breed between my local taros and purple sweet potatoes or they could be what purple sweet potatoes are called in the Philipines.
Either way, I was not going to give up on making my ube treats. I have a list of goodies I intend to make with ube and the ube jam in this post is the first. It is made using purple sweet potatoes as we call them here in Malaysia and the closest variant I can find of the ube. If you are unable to find ube that is specifically called ube, you can always use purple sweet potatoes to make this delicious delicacy.
How to Make Ube Jam (Ube Halaya)
This recipe is for ube jam made using fresh ube and not the grated or powdered versions.
- Ube (Purple Yam/Purple Sweet Potatoes)
- Condensed milk
- Coconut Milk
Preparing the Ube
Since ube is grown underground, it is often covered in dirt (soil). Washing it thoroughly helps remove the dirt but I prefer to remove the skin completely before cooking it just to be sure.
- Start by rinsing the ube to remove the dirt.
- Next, chop into large peices.
- Peel the skin by cutting it off using a sharp knife.
- Once the skin the peeled, chop each piece into smaller pieces. This helps them cook faster.
- Rinse the chopped ube in water. Place them in a medium-sized pot and fill the pot with water such that the ube is all submerged below the water level.
- Boil the ube pieces until they become soft.
- To test, lift out a piece of ube onto a plate and use a fork to break it. If it breaks easily, the ube is cooked. Depending on the size of the ube pieces, this would take between 15 to 20 minutes.
- Drain out all the water. You can do this by pouring out the ube along with the water into a colander and let the water drain off completely.
Making the ube jam
The next step is mashing the ube. While the cooked ube is soft and can be literally mashed with a fork, you might not be able to achieve a completely smooth texture, and it can be laborious for your hands.
I find using the blender a better option. You can also use a food processor.
- Place the cooked ube pieces into the blender.
- Add the coconut milk
- Add the condensed milk.
- Blend the ube until smooth. You may need to constantly use a long spoon or stirrer to stir the ube in the blender for it to operate smoothly. Or you can use the ‘pulse’ function.
- Pour the smoothly blended ube paste into a saucepan.Turn on the stove to a low flame.
- Add the butter and the salt.
- Cook the ube jam over low heat for about 45 minutes. Stir the jam constantly, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan continuously to avoid the jam from sticking to the pan and burning. Also, towards the end of the cooking process, as the jam starts to thicken, it will start spitting. Keep the lid on when you are not stirring.
- The jam will thicken further as it cools down so you need not cook it until it is completely thickened. You can test by using your spoon to scrape the jam across the pan. If it stays in place, the jam is done. Remove it from heat.
Storing the jam
- Let the jam cool down completely before storing. Keep the lid of the pan on as you cool the jam to prevent skin from forming on it. Remove the lid every 30 minutes or so to wipe away the steam condensation on it.
- Keep the jam refrigerated. Consume it within one week. You can also freeze it for up to one month if you wish to keep it longer.
Ube Jam (Ube Halaya) Recipe
Here is the full printable version of my ube jam (ube halaya) recipe.
Ube Jam (Ube Halaya)
- 400 g ube (or purple sweet potato)
- 210 g condensed milk (half of a 14 ounces can)
- 200 ml coconut milk
- ¼ tsp salt
- 60 g butter
- water (to cook the ube)
Preparing the Ube
- Start by preparing the ube. Wash them thoroughly to remove all dirt. Pat them dry and chop them into large pieces.
- Use a sharp knife to cut off the skin. Chop the peeled ube pieces into smaller chunks (for faster cooking) and rinse them again.
- Place the chopped ube in a pot and fill the pot with water (enough to cover the ube).
- Cook the ube for 20 to 25 minutes on low heat, until it becomes soft (but not too soft that it does not hold shape). The cooking time depends on the size of the ube chunks. The smaller they are, the faster they cook. To test, lift out a piece of the cooked ube onto a plate and try to cut it with a fork. If it is breaks easily, the ube is cooked.
- Drain the ube in a colander. Let is cool to room temperature.
Cooking the Jam
- Place the cooked ube into a food processor or blender.
- Add the condensed milk and coconut milk and process until the ube becomes smooth. You may need to constantly use a long spoon or stirrer to stir the ube in the blender for it to operate smoothly. Or you can use the 'pulse' function.
- Transfer the blended ube into a saucepan.
- Add butter and salt and cook it over low heat for approximately 40 to 45 minutes.
- Keep stirring and constantly scrape the bottom and sides of the pan to avoid it from sticking to the pan.
- As the jam starts to thicken, it will start spitting. Keep the lid on when not stirring.
- Remove from heat and let the ube jam cool down completely before storing. Keep the lid of the pan on as it cools to prevent skin forming on it. Remove the lid every 30 minutes to wipe away the steam condensation on it.
- The jam is best kept refrigerated and consumed within one week. You can also freeze it up to one month if you wish to keep it longer.
And that’s that. My simple and easy ube jam (ube halaya) recipe for you.
Here are my other treats you might want to check out:
- Small Batch Strawberry Jam – A Homemade Recipe without Pectin
- Pineapple Jam Recipe – How to Make Pineapple Jam without Pectin
- Mango Jam – 3 Ingredients Homemade Recipe
- Jam Filled Shortbread Cookies with Homemade Mango Jam