Alishan Ai Yu Jelly Fig Seeds
Ai Yu Jelly 愛玉冰 is the iconic Taiwanese summer dessert. In the high heat of summer, cool off with this amber-colored jelly served with lemons, honey and wild starch pearls 山粉圓 in teashops and nightmarkets. It’s healthy, too—mostly suspended water and soluble and insoluble fiber and is not sweet on its own. With raw honey and citrus, this is the golden child of summer desserts.
The jelly is made from the seeds of the Ai Yu Jelly Fig (Ficus pumila var. awkeotsang), a plant native to Taiwan with deep significance to the indigenous communities in the Alishan Mountain Range. The seeds are collected in a cloth bag and rinsed in spring water. This causes them to release their pectin, which interacts with the minerals in the water to set into a jelly. Within a few hours, the Ai Yu is ready to be scooped out, gently, quiveringly; a true texture of Taiwan. Instructions to make the jelly can be found here.
The natural history of Ai Yu is untamed and beautiful. Ficus vines creep up old growth trees in the Alishan Mountain Range, fruiting two stories high and thriving for decades. An Ai Yu fig wasp, evolved specifically to this plant, pollinates the flowers, allowing the vine to develop fruit. The ripe figs fall to the ground and seeds spill into spring fed creeks, releasing their pectin and, as the story goes, creating spring-borne Jell-O. This stuff is truly wild, and is as much a gift of the wasp as of the plant. Though the vines are grown ornamentally worldwide, they fruit only in Taiwan, because it’s the only habitat for this wasp.
The Ai Yu Jelly commonly available in North America is canned, stabilized with gelatin or carageenan, flavored or colored with artificial agents, and shockingly cylindrical. The real thing is ephemeral, fractal, and endlessly divided, lasting only a few days before reverting to liquid form, evading food science. We’re offering not the jelly, but the seeds, wash bag included, so you can make this at home and experience it as it was meant to be.
Our Aiyu seeds are sourced from a family-owned operation that have grown figs in the Alishan Mountain Range for over 30 years. The cultivar they grow is the original Alishan wild jelly fig, with a very high pectin yield (1:78 seed to water weight ratio, for the Ai Yu Heads out there). The fruits are harvested and dried by hand—read more about that process in our photo essay below.
Tasting Notes and Usage
a perfect suspension of water and fig essence
Use these seeds to prepare Ai Yu Jelly and serve it with ice cubes, and a lemon honey syrup. Please refer to the instructions page for recipes.
Ingredients and Instructions
100% Ai Yu Fig Seeds
Instructions to make the jelly can be found here
About Yun Hai Selection
Yun Hai Selection is the house brand of Yun Hai Taiwanese Pantry. Every item is hand selected and sourced from the very best producers we could find in Taiwan.