Ube powder has become an increasingly popular ingredient in recent years.
This vibrant purple powder made from ube yams offers a sweet, nutty flavor and a beautiful pop of color to both sweet and savory dishes.
What is Ube Powder?
Ube powder is made from grated ube yams that are dried and ground into a fine, vividly purple powder. Ube, also sometimes called ubi or purple yam, refers to a starchy root vegetable native to Southeast Asia.
Specifically, ube comes from a Southeast Asian vine plant called Dioscorea alata. The ube yam has dark brown, rough skin and bright purple flesh. They are available fresh in specialty markets but more commonly found dried and powdered.
Compared to the more familiar orange yams and purple sweet potatoes, ube has a much subtler flavor. When cooked, it takes on nutty, earthy notes similar to vanilla. The texture becomes very soft and creamy when boiled, baked, or pureed.
Ube powder provides an easy way to impart both the signature color and flavor of ube to recipes without needing the fresh tuber. Keep reading for tips on buying and cooking with this versatile powder.
Where to Buy Ube Powder
Wondering where you can find ube powder to start experimenting with ube recipes? Here are some places to buy it:
- Asian grocery stores - Check the aisles with other Southeast Asian ingredients like coconut milk and Filipino sauces.
- Online - Several retailers sell ube powder online if you can't find it locally, including Amazon and specialty Filipino food stores.
- Filipino bakeries - Some Filipino bakeries that make ube desserts may also sell the powder.
When purchasing, look for a smooth, vibrantly purple powder. Avoid any powders with brown flecks, which indicates the presence of the ube peel. High-quality ube powder should have an even consistency and color.
The powder is perishable so store any unused portion in an airtight container in the refrigerator to prevent it from absorbing moisture. It will keep for several months when properly stored.
How to Prepare Ube Powder
Before using ube powder in recipes, it needs to be reconstituted in hot water to rehydrate it. Here is a simple process to follow:
- Measure out the desired amount of ube powder (recipes usually call for a few tablespoons).
- Pour boiling water over the powder - about 1 cup water per 1/4 cup powder.
- Whisk thoroughly and let sit for 20 minutes, whisking occasionally, until thickened to a paste.
- At this point, the reconstituted ube powder is ready to use in recipes in place of the same amount of fresh ube puree.
Key Takeaway: Always rehydrate ube powder in hot water for 20 minutes before using to unlock its full flavor and color.
The reconstituted powder will have a consistency similar to mashed potatoes or thick batter. Be sure to whisk well to eliminate any clumps of powder.
If it seems too thin after 20 minutes, you can pour it into a small saucepan and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, to evaporate excess moisture. The ube paste should coat the back of a spoon thickly.
Now let's look at some of the many ways to use ube powder once it's prepped and ready to go.
Using Ube Powder in Desserts
One of the most common uses of ube powder is in sweet Filipino desserts. The sweet, nutty flavor pairs perfectly with coconut, condensed milk, and tropical fruits.
Here are some examples of popular ube dessert recipes to try:
- Ube ice cream - Mix reconstituted ube powder into your favorite ice cream base for a creamy, vividly-hued treat.
- Ube cake - Add ube to cake batter or frosting to make a stunning ube cake.
- Ube macapuno - This creamy Filipino dessert combines young coconut and ube flavors.
- Ube halaya - Also called ube jam, it can be used as a filling or topping for pastries.
- Ube muffins - Fold some powder into any muffin batter for color and extra moisture.
- Ube cookies - Vibrant cookies with a tender, cakey texture.
- Ube doughnuts - Ube powder gives baked doughnuts bright color and extra sweetness.
- Ube waffles - For fun weekend breakfasts, add ube to waffle batter.
The options are endless when it comes to using ube powder in sweet baked goods and frozen desserts. It adds great flavor, color, and moisture.
Ube Powder in Breads and Pastries
Soft, fluffy breads and pastries also pair deliciously with the subtle sweetness of ube powder. Try adding it to these baked goods:
- Ube pandesal - Soft, pillowy Filipino breakfast rolls with ube powder in the dough.
- Ube ensaymada - Sweet Filipino brioche rolls swirled with cheese and ube.
- Ube milk bread - Fluffy Japanese milk bread with ube kneaded into the dough.
- Ube mochi waffles - Crispy, chewy waffles with both mochiko and ube for great texture.
- Ube bibingka - This traditional Filipino rice cake gains vibrant color and flavor from ube.
- Ube monay - Another classic Filipino bread flavored and colored with ube powder.
- Ube dinner rolls - Easy to make your own dinner rolls at home with added ube.
For best results, reconstitute the ube powder first and add it to the wet ingredients when making dough. It will tint the dough and keep breads soft and moist.
Savory Uses of Ube Powder
While ube powder is best known for Filipino desserts, its mild sweetness can also complement savory dishes. Get creative with ube in these recipes:
- Ube rice porridge - Colorful champorado rice porridge flavored with ube.
- Ube pasta - Vivid purple pasta made with ube powder added to the dough.
- Ube gnocchi - Fluffy potato dumplings turn lavender-hued with ube powder.
- Ube risotto - Creamy ube-flavored rice creates a striking dish.
- Ube polenta - Another way to add both color and nutrition to polenta.
Don't be afraid to experiment with adding small amounts of ube powder to enhance everyday staples like rice, pasta, oatmeal, pancakes, etc. It adds a pop of color and nutritional value from vitamins and minerals in ube.
Key Takeaway: While famous in desserts, ube powder also livens up savory dishes like pastas, porridges, and dumplings.
Health Benefits of Ube Powder
In addition to its vibrant color and delicious taste, ube offers some excellent health benefits. Here is a quick look at the main nutrients found in ube powder:
- Antioxidants - Contain anthocyanins and phenolic acids that combat free radicals.
- Vitamin C - Important for immune function and collagen production.
- Potassium - Helps control blood pressure and heart health.
- Fiber - Aids digestion and gives a feeling of fullness.
- Iron - Essential for oxygen transport in red blood cells.
Ube is also high in magnesium, vitamin B6, manganese, and copper. It makes a very nutritious addition to both sweet and savory recipes.
Compared to white potatoes and other starchy tubers, ube packs a bigger nutrient punch. So don't be afraid to use it liberally in cooking and baking for added health benefits.
FAQs About Cooking with Ube Powder
How much ube powder equals fresh ube?
As a general rule of thumb, use 1 tablespoon of ube powder reconstituted in 3 tablespoons water to replace 1/4 cup fresh ube puree.
Can you substitute ube powder for ube extract?
No, ube extract is much more concentrated and used in very small amounts for flavoring. Use reconstituted ube powder when a recipe calls for mashed or pureed ube.
What does ube powder taste like?
It has a very mild, subtly sweet, and nutty vanilla-like flavor. The powder itself will taste chalky before reconstituting in water.
How do you keep baked goods purple with ube powder?
Be sure to reconstitute the powder fully first so the color is even. Then limit mixing batters to prevent streaking. Acidic ingredients like buttermilk may also cause ube to turn more blue-purple.
Can you replace all-purpose flour with ube powder?
Ube powder does not contain gluten, so it cannot completely replace wheat flour in recipes. But you can substitute 20% of the flour with ube powder.
Is ube powder healthy?
Yes, ube is rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. It contains more nutrients than starchy white potatoes. Enjoy ube powder to add both nutrition and great flavor to recipes.
With its delightfully sweet, nutty flavor and vibrant color, ube powder is a fantastic ingredient for both home cooks and bakers to try.