Do You Know What Makes Good Shepherd’s Ube Jam Delicious?

IMAGE Mark Jesalva

One of the many things Baguio is known for is Good Shepherd's Ube Jam. The convent is almost always a pitstop for tourists who stop by for jars of this classic pasalubong. But have you ever wondered how Good Shepherd's ube jam delicious legacy came to be? What makes it delicious?

The history of Good Shepherd's Ube Jam started in 1976 when Sister Fidelis Atienza received a suggestion from a close friend of hers to make ube halaya like Tantamco's (the original maker of ube halaya in Baguio). It was then that Sister Fidelis started to experiment and cook ube jam using firewood outdoors.

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Sr. Mary Assumption Ocampo RGS, the first Filipina Good Shepherd Sister, passed away on December 10, 2009, at the age of 102.
Photo by Good Shepherd Sisters official website

Since the recipe of the ube halaya still had room for improvement, Sister Mary Assumption Ocampo, the first Filipina Good Shepherd Sister, continued the task of perfecting the creamy ube halaya. It was because of her perseverance to help the youth that inspired everyone to strive to produce the best ube jam in town. 

She would constantly ask her nuns who were vacationing in Baguio questions like, "Tama ba ang tamis?" (Does it have the right amount of sweetness?), "Okay ba ang fresh butter?" (Is it better with fresh butter?), and "Malinamnam ba?" (Is it delicious?), to which her Sisters would reply:

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"Bawasan ang sugar" (Lessen the sugar.)

"Dagdagan ng butter" (Add more butter.)

 "Mas pino pa!" (Make it finer!)

Ube Jam is one of the many best-selling products of Good Shepherd Convent. All of their profits go to their student-workers.
Photo by Mark Jesalva

Before Good Shepherd embraced the use of machines, it all began with the Good Shepherd's student-workers stirring the ube constantly with a wooden spoon. Since the process of stirring went on for more than an hour, the students eventually gained arm muscles. After the stirring, they would reward themselves by munching on tutong na ube halaya.

It was in 2004 that Sister Mary introduced the use of machines to lessen the manual labor and fasten the process. They gradually mechanized the process of making the ube jam by using pressure cookers, conveyor belts, boilers, and different types of machines, such as the colloid, that is responsible for making the ube jam smooth and creamy.

The Sisters from the convent were fearful that the machines would take away the flavor of their handmade ube jam. Fortunately, the quality of Good Shepherd's ube jam wasn't compromised as a result of adapting to modern technology. All they had to do was stick to the original recipe that uses quality purple yam grown especially for them(no food coloring involved!) which they source from local farmers.

Sister Guadalupe Bautista manages the Good Shepherd Convent at Baguio
Photo by Mark Jesalva

Although their perfect ube jam recipe remains a top secret, Sister Guadalupe Bautista, the Good Shepherd Sister who manages Good Shepherd Convent in Baguio, shares that, "From 1976 up to the present, that's 43 years now, we have always used Alaska milk and Anchor butter in our Ube Jam."



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