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Yam Facts, Selection, and Storage

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Sweet Potatoes and Yams

© 2006 Peggy Trowbridge

About Yams:

Yams are often mistakenly called sweet potatoes, and vice versa, but they are two different vegetables. The true yam is the tuber of a tropical vine, and is not even distantly related to the sweet potato. Rarely found in US markets, the yam is a popular vegetable in Latin American and Caribbean markets. Generally sweeter than than the sweet potato, this tuber can grow over seven feet in length.

Botanical Name:

Dioscorea batatas

Common and Other Names:

yam, boniato, njam, nyami, djambi, yamswurzel, ñame, igname de chine

Yam Availability:

If you find them, they will most likely be sold in chunks sealed in plastic wrap, since they grow up to 7 feet in length and weigh up to 150 pounds.

Yam Selection:

Choose yams with unblemished, tight, unwrinkled skins and firm flesh.

Yam Varieties and Forms:

There are over 150 varieties available worldwide. Although you may find canned vegetables labeled as yams, they are most likely not true yams.

Yam Storage:

Store in a cool, dark, dry area for up to two weeks, and do not refrigerate. Cooked yams can be kept refrigerated for 2 to 3 days. To freeze, pack in an airtight container, leaving 1/2-inch headroom and store for 10 to 12 months at 0 degrees F.

Miscellaneous Yam Information:

True yams can generally be used in any sweet potato recipe. Yams, unlike sweet potatoes, are toxic if eaten raw, yet perfectly safe when cooked. True yams do not contain as much Vitamin A and C as sweet potatoes.

In-depth Yam Information:

Yams. Find out how to tell the difference between a true yam and a sweet potatoes.

Sample Yam Recipes:

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