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Is it a sweet potato or is it a yam?

September 15th, 2006 | 1 Comment »

This was a question that I encountered quite often in my days working customer service for a produce company. Apparently, true yams are only found in South America and they are starchy, hard to digest and not very user friendly; what we have here in the States that is labled a yam is actually a different species of sweet potato. Whatever they are called, I love the ones named Red Garnets. They make the most succulent mashed potato blended with yukon golds; the bake well, roast well and can be utilized in many, many ways. Sweet potatoes are more like a russet in texture; mealy and with a bit of sweet taste. The Red Garnets are super moist (make sure you bake them on a foil lined cookie sheet to catch their sugars as they carmelize or your smoke detector will rage) very deep orangey red and with a concentrated sweet flavor. And, they are also one of The 12 Best Foods and this is what the book says about them:

” Packed with more beta carotene than carrots and containing more antioxidant punch than winter squashes, sweet potatoes and the deep orange fleshed variety we call yams are terrific for boosting the immune system, reducing LDL cholesterol and can help fight off age related cataracts and a certain number of cancers. A lower glycemic index makes them a good choice for avoiding insulin resistance and they are loaded with minerals, including potassium; and they have vitamin B,C and folate.”

I have found that people either love sweet potatoes/yams or they don’t. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. I have only started eating them within the last two years, before that I was not a fan but since they offer up such a healthy plate, I thought I owed it to myself and my health to get to know them better. Now my Thanksgiving potatoes include yams, and we eat them pretty often when the weather turns colder.

Sweet Potato Butter

Wash 4 Beauregard, Garnet or Jewel yams, prick with a fork and coat them lightly with olive oil. Remove the papery layer of 1 medium onion, slice in half and coat with oil. Fold the onion up in a square of foil, add 4 garlic cloves still with paper layers attached. Cover a baking sheet with foil, add yams and onion pack, roasting at 400d until yams can be easily pierced with a fork. Cool, peel and process yams, onions and garlic in food processor with 1/4 c. olive oil, 4 T. tahini, salt and pepper to taste. Chill well.

Beautifully roasted yams, onions and garlic smelling fabulous

Peeled, whirred and seasoned and whirred and stirred and seasoned….and voila!!


This has a texture similar to hummus but it is all yam flavored and sweet. I added a handful of dried cranberries to it to liven it up some, I think dried cherries would be just as yummy. It was smooth with hints of the roasted garlic, some of the mild onion taste and the tart little bite of the cranberry. I had some with toasted pita bread, and plan to serve it with celery, baby carrots and the pitas. If no one eats it, too bad for them and way good for me!

(NOTE: My apologies to Jeff, at C is for Cooking, as he requested rather tongue in cheek with regards to my Harvest Stew, that I no longer make any naughtay posts about good lookin’ veggies. Sorry Man!!!! Are naughtay posts about good lookin’ fruits and legumes OK, though? What would Steph say?!?!?)

One response to “Is it a sweet potato or is it a yam?”

  1. Sher says:

    I love “yams.” Actually, since I was born in the South, we always called them sweet potatoes. But, my favorite is the red garnet too. Such a lovely taste and color. They make a great sweet potato pie.