Ube has long been known in the Philippines as a staple food item, found in traditional desserts such as halo-halo, halaya, ginatan, and (of course) ice cream. However, with people now sharing their travel experiences through social media platforms, it’s no wonder that the beautiful, natural color of this food found its way across the world into restaurants, bakeries, and ice cream shops in the states. With an ever-increasing popularity in natural ingredients, and the vibrant purple color this ingredient gives off naturally we probably won’t be seeing the end of this trend anytime soon.
So what is ube exactly? It’s a purple yam that grows in various places around the world including most of Southeast Asia, its surrounding areas, and in southern states such as Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands and other places in the Caribbean. In Florida, the species has actually become an invasive weed.
Now, thanks to its upcoming popularity and photogenic color, you can find it in NYC! The most well-known spot serving up this colorful food is Soft Swerve (because it’s summer so naturally everything must be made into ice cream form). Soft Swerve has created a bright purple ice cream out of ube with the straight-forward flavor name: Ube Purple Yam. Not only is the refreshing treat itself picture-perfect, but the cone it comes in is equally as Instagram worthy. You can get the ice cream stuffed into a delicious cupcake, that looks more like tall purple frosting than ice cream, or in waffle cones that are either red or black. Want to add more colorful elements to your beautiful creation? Add toppings such as sprinkles, fruity pebbles, or a dusting of crushed oreos.
You’ll likely see this trend continue into other baked goods in your Instagram feed’s future as places are using the root vegetable as an ingredient in cookies and even cheesecakes. Turning everything it touches into a lovely shade of purple. Ube is definitely here to stay.