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Thread: Sweet potatoes versus Yams

  1. #1
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    Sweet potatoes versus Yams

    A few questions for the expert out there! =)

    1) What's the general difference between sweet potatoes and yams?

    2) They're both supposed to be healthy, right (high fiber, low calories, lots of nutrients etc.) compared the the other starchy potatoes? Or, is one considered to be more healthier than the other?

    3) Are they interchangeable in recipes?

    Thanks in advacne for helping me with this!

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by smpuri
    A few questions for the expert out there! =)

    1) What's the general difference between sweet potatoes and yams?
    This depends where you are in the world, but here in the US they are pretty much the same thing - though some may be different in color. Some are white-fleshed (these are more dry) while some are orange (more moist) (hence the two names supposedly)

    In your typical market, you probably wouldn't find a "true" yam as they only grow in the tropics and have a rough and scaly skin. They can also grow to be 7 feet long and can weight up to 150 pounds
    Joe

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  3. #3
    I've done some research online about that topic. If my reading serves me well...we do not have true Yams here in the United States. For some reason, which i never actually read the "why",,,Sweet Potatoes are legally allowed to be labelled Yams. Here's an interesting read: http://www.walterreeves.com/how_to/a...?cat=26&id=865

    and here too http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-23-a.html

    Quote: Several decades ago, when orange-fleshed sweet potatoes were introduced in the southern United States, producers and shippers desired to distinguish them from the more traditional, white-fleshed types. The African word nyami, referring to the starchy, edible root of the Dioscorea genus of plants, was adopted in its English form, yam. Yams in the U.S. are actually sweetpotatoes with relatively moist texture and orange flesh. Although the terms are generally used interchangeably, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that the label "yam" always be accompanied by "sweetpotato." The following information outlines several differences between sweetpotatoes and yams.(the link shows a table of the differences)

    and i promise here's the last link i'll note...again saying everything in this country is truly a sweet potato: "The sweet potato may be a holiday star, but it deserves a year-round audience. A nutritional powerhouse, it regularly tops lists of vegetables ranked for vitamins, minerals and fiber. And with California growers bringing more varieties to market, including the prized Okinawan -- a purple-fleshed variety famed for its flavor -- consumers have good reason to give sweet potatoes a longer look.

    But first, the yam disclaimer. Consumer confusion about yams versus sweet potatoes persists because the industry perpetuates it. To the growers and marketers, it's simple: The yams have moist, orange flesh. All the others are sweet potatoes.

    In fact, botanically speaking, all the conventional supermarket varieties are sweet potatoes (ipomoea batata). The Garnet yam is a sweet potato. The Jewel yam is a sweet potato. True yams are starchy roots from another botanical family entirely. But custom rules, and marketers continue to label those varieties with moist, deep-orange flesh as yams, and to deem the drier, paler-fleshed varieties sweet potatoes. " this is noted from: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...7/FD138577.DTL

    So, be it white, yellow, red..everything here is actually the sweet potato family...i LOVE em' all!

  4. #4
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    Looks like you have all the info you need on the difference (i.e., we don't really eat yams in this country but two types of sweet potatoes - the orange ones are marketed as "yams"). I prefer the orange variety but because they're quite a bit moister than the white sweet potatoes you might want to do further research before using them interchangably in baking or pastas/gnocchi, etc. -- I just don't know.

    I looked on the Dole 5-A-Day website, here's how they break out the nutrional stats. Very surprising to me, as I would have thought the yam had more vitamin A, but check out the numbers!

    For one half cup, cooked:

    Sweet potato
    weight: 100g calories: 76 Fiber 2.5g Vit A: 15740 Vit C: 13 Potas: 230 Folate: 6

    Yam
    weight: 68g calories: 79 Fiber: 2.7 Vit A: 83 Vit C: 8 Potas: 456 Folate: 11

    Hope that helps!
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  5. #5
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    While I've never seen a true yam I have seen some incredible sweet potatoes! We got some in the restaurnat yesterday and those puppies weighed in at 4 pounds a piece!!!!!
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  6. #6
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    Thanks so much for this thread. I want to make sweet potato fries (basically roasting them in the oven with olive oil and kosher salt) for a small 4th of July gathering we are having. I can't figure out if what I purchased is a sweet potato or an 'americanized' yam. I'm guessing it is a sweet potato because the skin is white and it does not have the deep orange color.

    Are the two interchangable in recipes?

    The information above makes it seem like it... but I just want to be sure. All these years my mom has made 'sweet potatoes' at Thanksgiving and they are the orange ones. Sounds like it is a case of mistaken identity!


    Renee

  7. #7
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    Louisiana is a big yam growing state. Here is a link to the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission site which has a lot of information including recipes.

    Now, you've got me hungry for yams.


  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Canice View Post
    I looked on the Dole 5-A-Day website, here's how they break out the nutrional stats. Very surprising to me, as I would have thought the yam had more vitamin A, but check out the numbers!

    For one half cup, cooked:

    Sweet potato
    weight: 100g calories: 76 Fiber 2.5g Vit A: 15740 Vit C: 13 Potas: 230 Folate: 6

    Yam
    weight: 68g calories: 79 Fiber: 2.7 Vit A: 83 Vit C: 8 Potas: 456 Folate: 11

    Hope that helps!

    I don't doubt you, Canice, but how could that be right? Must be in their definitions...by "yam" maybe they mean the real thing, the African root, not what we call yams in the US? Their own website doesn't help matters much, except to clarify that they are talking about orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, I think. I'm still not clear on what they are calling a "yam," though: http://www.dolenutrition.com/article...aspx?RecId=213

    To add to the confusion, there are different varieties of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes--the larger, brown ones, and the thinner, red-skinned ones...
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by reneeinnorthwes View Post
    Thanks so much for this thread. I want to make sweet potato fries (basically roasting them in the oven with olive oil and kosher salt) for a small 4th of July gathering we are having. I can't figure out if what I purchased is a sweet potato or an 'americanized' yam. I'm guessing it is a sweet potato because the skin is white and it does not have the deep orange color.

    Are the two interchangable in recipes?
    Renee
    The orange-fleshed potatoes are sweeter than the white-fleshed ones. I would never ever make my Thanksgiving 'yam' casserole using the white-fleshed sweet potato, it wouldn't come out the same way at all. Drier, less sweet, etc. Need garnet yams for that (or another orange-fleshed yam).

    For what you are doing, I would probably prefer the white-fleshed ones as they will hold together better as 'fries'.

    So, no, I don't believe they are interchangable as a rule. You might try buying a yam someday and trying the same recipe and you'll see what I mean. They will be good, perfectly edible, and folks will enjoy them, don't get me wrong. But they will be quite different than the white ones.

  10. #10
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    Thanks everyone. I make the fries using the white-fleshed ones. They came out okay but I didn't think they were amazing. I will try to make the sweet potato fries using the orange-flesh variety just in the interest of trying to understand the difference.

    Thanks for the feedback. I love learning/playing with different foods to understand how they vary!

    Renee

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