Is It A Yam Or A Sweet Potato?

I originally wrote this post back in 2012 and yet the debate rages on. A recent heated fun debate brought the age old question back into existence. This of course, is not unusual for most families during this time of the year. The conversation started with my mother who was unhappy with the turn out of a recent batch of Sweet Potato Pies. I blamed the problem on the growing season. She blamed the problem on the store mislabeling yams for sweet potatoes and the debate was born.

Is It A Yam or Sweet Potato

Those huge hulking orange colored  vegetables that go on sale right around November and are beat, whipped, and pureed into souffles and pies are actually sweet potatoes? So why are they labeled as yams in the grocery store? As it turns out, yams and sweet potatoes are not even in the same family.

Yams and sweet potatoes are not even in the same family.

What’s in A Yam?

Yams are native to Africa and Asia, and the term actually means to eat. They are important to the culture of that region as they keep well in the rainy season and their tough exterior holds up well under the most extreme weather. Grocery stores in the U.S. label the orange colored sweet potato as a yam to distinguish it from the pale fleshed variety. To get even more scientific for you, yams are monocot, having one embryonic seed leaf and sweet potatoes are dicot, with two embryonic seed leaves. Compared to sweet potatoes, yams are starchier and drier. True yams can be tough to find in most grocery stores. 

So in essence, all those times you thought you were eating yams, you were likely eating a sweet potato, and you’ve probably haven’t ever actually had a true yam . In 98% of grocery stores in the U.S yams and sweet potatoes are used interchangeably.

What About The Sweet Potato?

There are many varieties of sweet potatoes, which come from the morning glory family. Skin color can range from white and yellow to red, purple and brown, while the flesh can be white, yellow, orange or even orange-red. These vegetables have an elongated shape with tapered ends.

Among the numerous varieties of sweet potatoes grown in the U.S. there are two major types:

  1. Firm sweet potatoes, which have golden skin and paler flesh.
  2. Soft sweet potatoes, which have copper skin and orange flesh.

The two types of sweet potatoes cook differently. After cooking firm sweet potatoes still remain firm and a little waxy, while the soft variety becomes creamy, fluffy, and moist.

So now that we have the facts let me say this:

I love sweet potatoes, yams, or whatever they are called

They are chock full of essential nutrients making them healthier than a baking potato and the possibilities on what you can do with them are endless.

To learn more information click here

Source (The Kitchen)

Photo credit: The Kitchen

1 Comment

  1. This was awesome! I’ve always wondered about this. Many of my american friends tried to convince me that sweet potatoes were yams. I knew it haha! Great writeup, do you feature your writing with any other sites at all?

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