Perhaps you’ve noticed, like myself, the plethora of sweet potato recipes on food blogs of late. Personally, I don’t like those critters. Most likely because, growing up, they only showed up on Thanksgiving and the occasional Christmas tables in a disgusting mushy sweet casserole sometimes topped with marshmallows. Euw.
I’m not a soul who craves sweets. As you know, I could live on bread, butter, cheese, charcuterie, wine and the like, with asparagus or broccoli thrown in occasionally. Probably wouldn’t live long but I’d enjoy it. So a dish drowning in brown sugar isn’t going to do it for me.
With the approach of the holiday, I noticed yams popping up in the vegetable department at several groceries. Didn’t think too much about it since it falls into the sweet potato family. Or so I thought.
Even though Thanksgiving has passed, I know there’ll still be a lot of those taters showing up in recipes till 2013. So today when I hit yet another sweet potato recipe, I was about to start whining when I paused and thought, what IS the difference between them? Of course that sent me off on a Google hunt which didn’t take long. Of course it did take a long time following the many trails.
Turns out I’m not alone. Found tons (okay, not tons but a large number) of blogs and links addressing just this question and of course with recipes. The veggies I’m speaking of aren’t potatoes at all but rather tubers. According to the Library of Congress, yams are “closely related to lillies and grasses” while sweet potatoes are “members of the morning glory family”.
According to Zoe Francios of five minute a day bread fame, “sweet potatoes and yams that we find here in the States are really all sweet potatoes. What we think of as yams are called this by mistake. It started long ago when the slaves were brought over and identified sweet potatoes with the “nyami” from Africa. The name stuck and we’ve been eating a misnomer ever since”.
On top of that, there are over 200 varieties of yams, and few if any grow in the U.S.! The record for yams size-wise is held by the Pacific island of Ponape which produced a 650 lb. tuber that was seven feet long. (Source) But the odds of finding real yams in a grocery here are slim. They do have a higher moisture content and more natural sugar than the sweet potato.
I found this graphic interesting. Notice the odd assortment of things evolving such as Cannibis, potato, Ginko and tomato.
If you go to this link you can find out everything you ever wanted to know including nutritional info on yams.
Above is a photo from the blog Stloueats whose author notes that he is allergic to poultry. The swath of info on the internet amazes me. Who knew? Allergic to poultry. That would do me in.
Okay, THAT’S an impressive yam. Or you could say a yam to be reckoned with. For the final word on sweet potatoes vs. yams I’ll leave you with this, from livestrong.com, “The biggest nutritional difference between yams and sweet potatoes is their vitamin A content. An 8-ounce sweet potato supplies a whopping 270 percent of your daily requirement for this vitamin, which is needed to keep your skin and soft tissues healthy, while the same portion of yams offers only 1 percent” and “A 1-cup serving of sweet potatoes gives you half your daily requirements for potassium, copper and manganese. The same amount of yams is also a good source of these minerals, providing 20 percent of your daily needs”.
In my searches, I found a recipe for cooking sweet potatoes in a bed of salt, with rosemary and garlic over at The Soup Addict which sounds quite good. Savory, not sweet. Bought two sweet potatoes before the holiday, in the blind hope of giving them one last shot, this recipe may do it. No promises, but you still might see me eating a sweet potato now and then and good for all you who already do. I figure if I still don’t fall for them, then Blue will have an extra treat for several days. I don’t think he’ll mind.
By the way, I don’t feel bad for not caring for (so far) sweet potatoes, I love brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and rutabagas. That has count for something right?