Saturday 12 May 2012


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Often the terms Yam or Sweet Potato are used interchangeably. However, although they are both starchy tubers used for cooking, they are really two different types of vegetables.


Yam is the common name for the tuber of the herbaceous tropical vine Dioscorea batatas. 

Originating from Africa/Asia, yams are closely related to lilies and grasses. They differ from sweet pototos as they are monocots, having a single embronic leaf. 

Yams thrive in tropical climates such as South America, Africa and the Caribbean. Over 95% of yams are cultivated in Africa.

There are over 600 varieties of yam.  They vary from the size of a small potato to over seven feet in length, and can weigh up to 70 kilogrammes / 154 lb.  The tubers are long and cylindrical. They have a rough textured brown/black skin and a off white, purple or red flesh depending on the variety. Starchier and drier than sweet potatoes, yams taste sweeter as they contain more natural sugar.

Sweet potatoes

Often sweet potatoes have been referred to as yams, especially in parts of America and Canada.

Sweet potatoes are storage roots from the plant Ipomoea batatas, members of the morning glory family Convolvulacea. They originate from tropical America (Peru, Ecuador). They are dicots, having two embryonic seed leaves.

They have skin colour ranging from white to yellow, red , purple or brown. The elongated tubers are short and blocky, with ends that taper to a point. 

Sweet potato varieties are often classified as 
soft or hard. Hard varieties have a thinner skin that is light yellow and a dry, crumbly texture that is similar to a baking potato. Softer varieties become soft and moist when cooked and have a thicker, dark orange or red skin with a vivid orange flesh and a moist texture.

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