nov. 24 food question- sweet potatoes or yams

November 22, 1999

Is there a difference between yams and sweet potatoes?

Mmmmmm. Thanksgiving. The wonderful aromas of roasting turkey, pumpkin pie and candied yams fill the house.

cont. from lifestyle

Yams? Or is it sweet potatoes?

Is there a difference?

You bet your sweet potato there is!

The true yam is the tuber - the short, thickened, fleshy part of an underground stem - of a tropical vine and is not even distantly related to the sweet potato. Rarely found in U.S. markets, the yam is popular in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The sweet potato is the root of a vine of the morning glory family. Native to the tropics of the New World, it dates back to 750-B.C. Peru.


There are two dominant types of these yellow or orange tubers. The paler-skinned, paler-fleshed sweet potato is not sweet and has a texture similar to a white baking potato, but the two are not related. The darker-skinned orange variety - usually mistakenly called "yam" - has a thicker skin and moist and sweet orange flesh.

Canned sweet potatoes are available year-round, although they often are labeled as yams.

Call them yams or call them sweet potatoes, but whatever you call them, enjoy.


- Kate Coleman, Staff Writer

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