Apr 05, 2021

LET’S DISH! Let’s Talk About Purple Sweet Potatoes

By: MaryAnne Miano

You may have heard of the silly “purple people eater,” but have you considered that people eat purple things? We know that foods come in many colors, but did you know that sweet potatoes are not all orange? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the purple sweet potato!

The purple sweet potato has some nutritional benefits, just like their orange tuber cousins. The purple variety is richer in anthocyanins than the orange fleshed ones, but the more common orange sweet potatoes have more beta-carotene. Is one healthier than the other? A study published in June 2013 concluded that the purple-fleshed sweet potatoes have the highest overall level of phenolics, antioxidant content and total soluble dietary fiber than the other varieties.

Purple sweet potatoes are also chock full of potassium, fiber and magnesium. They are high in B6, vitamin C and antioxidants. Also noteworthy is their low glycemic index score, which can be consumed by diabetic diets.

We know they are good for us, but how do these purple tubers taste? Without any fat or cholesterol to worry about, the purple potatoes are generally sweeter than the orange, with a very creamy texture.  

Purple sweet potatoes are well-known in the Phillippines. They are used in many aspects of traditional Filipino food culture, especially in desserts, where their natural sweetness and bright violet color make for some tasty and interesting desserts. Filipinos call it “ube,” and it can be found in puddings, cakes, cookies, pancakes, pastries and even ice cream. Ube halaya, a type of jam, is a staple in traditional Filipino desserts.

Our recipes of the month will feature this incredible bright potato in the tradition of the Phillippines. One recipe is for jam and one is for a pana cotta dessert. They both make for a pretty addition to your dessert table!



1 pound purple yam root, unpeeled

¼ cup butter

1 (10 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ (12 fluid oz.) can evaporated milk


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook yam in the boiling water until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and cool until easily handled. Peel and thinly grate the flesh.

2. Melt butter in a wok over medium heat. Stir in the condensed milk and vanilla extract. Add grated purple yam. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is sticky but not dry, about 30 minutes. Pour in evaporated milk; cook and stir for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.  

3. Transfer yam mixture to a container and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Chill before serving.  

NOTE:  Use one package of frozen grated purple yam instead of the fresh yam, if desired.








1 ube (purple yam), peeled

1 ½ cups whole milk, divided

1 cup coconut milk

½ cup white sugar

1 (.25 ounce) package unflavored gelatin


1. Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Bring water to a boil. Add ube, cover, and steam until tender, about 20 minutes. Cool until easily handled. Puree ube in a blender or food processor, or thoroughly mash by hand.

2. Combine 1 cup pureed ube, ¾ cup milk, coconut milk, and sugar in a blender or food processor; blend until completely smooth.

3. Pour remaining ¾ cup whole milk into a saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin to top. Let stand for 5 minutes.

4. Heat milk-gelatin mixture over medium-low heat, stirring until gelatin is dissolved, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in ube mixture, and increase heat to medium. Heat until steam starts to rise from the mixture, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes.

5. Pour mixture into individual serving glasses or molds. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill until set, about 3 hours.

Recipes from AllRecipes.com