Ube halaya, also known as “haleyang ube” in Tagalog, is basically ube jam. While you can typically find fresh ube halaya at your local Seafood City, you can also find it in preserved jars in the halo halo aisle.
I prefer making my own ube jam from scratch or using fresh ube halaya from Seafood City (in the fridged aisle) because it tastes better, whereas the jarred ube jam includes preservatives like citric acid that might change the flavor of ube.
You can make ube halaya from fresh ube roots, frozen ube, or dehydrated powder. Lately, it’s been quite difficult to access fresh ube roots, but I was able to find ube powder to make it into ube halaya for future recipes. This recipe will show you how to properly rehydrate ube powder and turn it into an easy ube jam that you can use for any type of ube dessert!
What is ube, and ube halaya?
Ube is an indigenous yam from the Philippines. It’s well known for its vibrant purple flesh and dark brown skin—however, sometimes the vibrancy of the purple coloring varies between ube to ube. It has a nutty, vanilla taste when it’s cooked and is pairs well with other tropical flavors like coconut.
Note that ube is a purple yam. It’s often confused with the Okinawan purple sweet potato, but they vary in sweetness and skin color. Purple sweet potatoes have a light tan skin color vs yams that have a dark brown coloring for ube.
Ube halaya is a basic ube jam made from cooked ube, condensed milk, evaporated milk, and other ingredients. All these ingredients are cooked down until it becomes a thick paste. You can either use on pandesal or other desserts. Often times ube halaya can come in the shape of a mold similar to leche flan or a thicker paste in a jar like traditional jam.
Desserts that use ube halaya
Many ube desserts that I’ve eaten and cooked include ube halaya as a main ingredient—most of the time this is how many people include actual ube in a recipe, in addition to using ube extract. Some recipes that use this ube jam are ube cake, ube waffle, and ube crinkle cookies.
Where to buy jars of ube halaya
If you don’t have time to make your own ube halaya or you can’t find fresh ube halaya at your local Filipino store, you can also use premade ube jam. Since they have a longer shelf life, you can also keep it on hand for future recipes. Here’s some online stores that sell ube halaya or other forms of ube:
- Sarap Now: ube halaya and ube powder
- Filipino Store: ube halaya and ube powder
- Secret Pantry LA: ube powder
Types of ube to use for halaya
To make ube halaya, you can use various forms of ube: fresh ube yams, frozen ube, and dried ube powder. For this recipe, I use ube powder because it was more readily available to me at the local Filipino market and also has a longer shelf life.
My favorite ube powder brand is Fil-Choice brand because it’s smoother in texture, which helps during rehydration. I have tried Tropics brand as well, but it’s slightly rougher in texture.
- Rehydrate your ube powder first before cooking it down or adding the other ingredients. I like to put my powder and boiling water in a covered bowl and let it sit for at least 20 minutes. This allows the ube powder to rehydrate before cooking it down.
- Cook down your ube powder to remove any raw yam flavors. Some of the ube powders are made using raw yams and cooking it down after it rehydrates gives the ube a more concentrated flavor. This also gives you more time to properly rehydrate all the ube powder in case it didn’t finish during the first 20 minutes.
- Try not to overcook the milk in ube halaya because the condensed and evaporated milk will begin to give the halaya a caramelized flavor and overpower the ube taste. This is also why I cook down the ube first before adding the milk and sweeteners.
- Add vanilla to amplify the warm, nutty notes of the ube to your jam. I found that adding this really boosted the flavor in my ube halaya.
How to store ube halaya
I like to add the cooked ube halaya in a mason glass with a tight lid and store it in the fridge for up to one week. If you want to save it for future recipes, you can also put the ube halaya in a ziplock freezer bag and freeze it up for at least one month. Just remember to defrost it on the counter or in the fridge overnight before you use it for a recipe.
Ube Halaya Recipe (Purple Yam Jam)
- 4 tbsp ube powder
- 1½ c boiling water
- 4 tbsp evaporated milk
- 4 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- In a heat safe mixing bowl, combine the ube powder and boiling water. Whisk the powder and cover with a lid. Leave to soak in the water for 20 minutes.
- Whisk the ube mixture again to incorporate all the water and hydrated ube in the bowl. Add the contents into a saucepan over medium heat.
- Bring to a simmer and continue to whisk for an additional 10 minutes or until the texture has the consistency of a thick apple sauce. Here's how it should look.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the evaporated milk, condensed milk, and vanilla extract.
- Bring the pan back onto the heat over medium-high and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to stir to prevent the bottom from burning. Cook for another 10 minutes or until the ube halaya turns into a thick paste. Here's how the final texture should look.
- Transfer the ube halaya into a jar and let rest until cool to serve or use as an ingredient.