Sweet Potato or Yam?


I’m fairly certain that you’ve heard both terms when someone, maybe even yourself, was referring to a yellow-orange version of a potato. What  is the difference between the two? How do you tell  which is which? Let’s find out!

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are quite popular in the South. The yellow, or  orange, elongated tubers  have  ends that taper to a point. There are two major types or varieties. The pale-skinned sweet potato has a thin, light yellow skin and pale yellow flesh.   It is  not sweet and has a dry and  crumbly texture, similar to white potatoes. The dark-skinned variety (which  most Americans incorrectly call “yams”) has a thick, dark orange to red skin with a bright orange flesh. They are sweet and have a moist texture.


A true yam is the tuber from a tropical vine and is not related (not even distantly) to the sweet potato. They are slowly becoming more common in US markets, although most markets still don’t carry them. Yams are  a very popular vegetable in Latin American and Caribbean markets as  well. There are over 150 varieties available worldwide. I find that  rather impressive! Yams are generally sweeter than  sweet potatoes and can grow over seven feet in length. Seven feet? Whoa, that’s a lot of yam. I doubt even my Mother-in-law could find enough marshmallows to smother that much yam! 😉

So as Thanksgiving rolls around this year, you’ll be the smartest sweet potato/yam decipher-er out there. Go get ’em tiger, make me proud!

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