Did You Know?
Sweet potatoes and yams may seem similar but they are not one and the same.
Even though the names for these foods are used interchangeably, yams and sweet potatoes actually are two distinct foods. Yams and sweet potatoes differ in flavor and appearance and come from different plant families.
Sweet potatoes are in the morning glory family while yams are from the lily family.
Yams are starchier, harder and not as sweet as sweet potatoes. Their texture is more reminiscent of traditional potatoes or yuca. Yams will have black or brown skin that is bark-like in appearance with white or purple flesh. Yams can grow quite large, even up to 100 pounds.
Conversely, sweet potatoes are sweeter, softer and more fibrous than yams. They also can come in a variety of colors of both the skin and flesh. Sweet potatoes only grow to be a few ounces in size. While you cannot use a yam as a substitute for a sweet potato, there are some sweet potatoes that are not as sweet and may replace yams in recipes.
Stores don't seem to recognize the distinction between yams and sweet potatoes. In fact, the next time you go to a store and see 'yam' on a sign in the produce section, it is likely a sweet potato.