Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The difference between Yams and Sweet Potato

Youngest daughter is starting to feed her baby some solid food. She is wondering if what she is buying is Yams or Sweet Potato. So here goes........

Everything you find in a general grocery store is........................

A Sweet Potato

Are you surprised? I know this as a gardener, someone who wanted to grow every cool plant. I can grow a sweet potato, I can not grow a yam. Let me explain.

Sweet Potato is a Native American plant. Columbus found it here and mentioned it in his records several times.

There are two types and this is where the stores miss label your food. There are dry meated sweet potatoes and moist-meated potatoes. I like the moist meated and these are the red ones often labeled as yams. There are several types usually Red Velvet, Georgia red, or any of several new variety Sweet potatoes. The white or yellowish dry meated are Porto Rican, and several other new varieties. If you get a dry meated type you will know it. They are just like their name.....dry and cook up more like Irish potatoes, but still rich in nutrition!

So what is a yam? Amazing food but hard to grow. Japanese yams are 24 to 36 " long and need twice the space needed to grow sweet potatoes. Sadly they are left in the ground for 3 to 4 years and when you do serve them, grated or shredded, they quickly turn mucilaginous. Fun. Mexican Yams are used in treatments, creams etc, to treat female ailments. There is also a wild yam which is used in natural medicine also. Yams are not from the nightshade family as Sweet Potatoes are.
So the good news is Sweet Potatoes are full of vitamin A, a good dose of Vitamin C and other minerals. Lots of magnesium here too. So use these easy to cook potatoes, you may bake, boil, brown, fry, and candy them. You can put them in biscuits, bread, muffins, pies, cookies, cakes and last night I put them in sloppy Joe's.
There you have it this is the Japanese yam....
My resources are my gardening books and my Ortho books ' Adventures in Oriental cooking', and 'When the good cook gardens'.


lyndy said...

So i got one of the white dry ones. I've had to add lots of water to the puree to make it less like paste. I'll go for an orange one next time.

Eden said...

I've been adding them to all kinds of food for about a month now... spaghetti sauce, shepherd's pie, etc. Since I can't get Flynn to eat veggies, I'm sneaking it in!