sweet potatoes - Knowledgebase Question

Louisville, Ke
Question by djewell2009
December 11, 2010
I am confuse I am told that yams and sweet potatoes are the same so what makes it so difference from each other. When is it an sweet potatoe and when is it a yam ? Help!


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Answer from NGA
December 11, 2010

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Botanically speaking, yams (Dioscorea) are technically different from sweet potatoes (Ipomoea). When it comes to grocery store labeling, I too end up confused! In fact we don't usually see true yams where I live except in specialty grocery stores. Instead, according to the cookbook "The Joy of Cooking" we are seeing different types of sweet potatoes. Usually we call the copper or purple skinned ones with relatively soft, orange insides "yams" -- and these tend to taste naturally sweet. We call the paler or yellow or brownish skinned ones with whiter innards "sweet potatoes" and they are less sweet. Most recipes can be made with either one, with the notation that "yams and sweet potatoes are best baked, steamed, grilled or microwaved" -- so I guess it is just a matter of personal taste, although we like the sweeter candied yams for Thanksgiving!

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