The Skinny on Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes and yams are actually two very different vegetables.

While American grocery stores use the terms interchangeably, what they are always referring to is actually a sweet potato, not a yam. Garnet Yams and Jewel Yams, for instance, aren’t yams at all — they’re sweet potatoes! Candied Yams? Nope, sweet potatoes. Confused yet?

In fact, chances are that you’ll never accidentally buy an actual yam instead of a sweet potato at your local grocery. You can find “true” yams as well as other varities of sweet potatoes in Caribbean and Asian specialty grocery stores.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Okinawan Sweet Potato Recipe!

Thanks to EmilyB for the wonderful recipe link, and to Reid over at 'Ono Kine Grindz for the Hawaiin recipe.

Okinawan Sweet Potato and Haupia Pie

(Haupia is a coconut milk-based Hawaiin dessert.)

This recipe utilizes sweet potatoes found in Okinawa, Japan. Okinawan sweet potatoes, when cooked, develop a purple flesh and a delicate taste.

You can find Okinawan sweet potatoes at Asian groceries (or in Okinawa, har har), and be sure to ask an employee if you can't find one!

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I'd also like to thank everyone for their kind sweet potato and/or yam encouragement: thanks, everyone!

I LOVE hearing from people who plan to pass out the fliers, so please don't hesitate to comment and let me know where you intend to distribute them.

7 comments:

EmilyB said...

Heehee, yeah, just hop a flight to Okinawa!

I posted a photo of the last batch I made of the pie over at my blog (I tried to here but apparently Blogger didn't like it).

I've heard Okinawan sweet potatoes called 'ube here in Hawaii, but I think they're actually two different things. I want to say 'ube is really a yam but I should double-check that. They're both purple, though, so I suppose the confusion is understandable.

Mrs. Gregorton said...

Thank you for this site! My friend and I obsess over this very subject every November and call each other in irritation when we come across different descriptions of "yams" and sweet potatoes. Finally, we have uncovered the truth thanks to your efforts. I'll be raising a glass to you this Thanksgiving.

Anonymous said...

Q: Are yams grown anywhere in the Continental U.S.? The reason I ask is that this morning I was in a Safeway store and the produce guy was telling me that the "Beauregard Yams" they had on display were true yams and NOT sweet potatoes. They came from California [Livingston]. After that observation, he explained that Yams are grown in the deep south and CA and have been for "centuries". I chose not to argue as it is, after all, Thanksgiving Day.

Anonymous said...

I just found your site after confusing shopping trip (I like baking a whole bunch of sweet potatoes ahead of time, then freezing them and eating them for lunch reheated with black beans and spices--yum!) wherein I saw a big pile of sweet potatoes labeled "Yams" and I was all, "where are the sweet potatoes? Oh wait, these look EXACTLY LIKE sweet potatoes! Because they are." My boyfriend and I discussed it briefly, feeling stupid and unsure of our basic food identification ablilities, and then I turned to Wikipedia. You are linked on the sweet potato site! Good on you for spreading the word :)

The Moseph said...

I just wanted to thank you so much for this site. My wife and I were discussing this subject just the other day after watching an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond in which "yams" were being prepared with marshmallows for a Thanksgiving feast. This is one subject that I am ferociously passionate about, rampant ignorance regarding food (or pretty much anything else for that matter). It drives me crazy listening to people refer to sweet potatoes as yams. I consulted a Betty Crocker cookbook looking for a photo comparison for my son to see the difference only to discover the book blatantly referred to sweet potatoes in the same ignorant way. No mention at all of actual yams. Maybe I need to start up a site myself(or just use my blog over at MySpace) to straighten up the similar problem regarding carambolas and their being referred to as "star fruit".

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the enlightening commentary. This morning, I went to my local supermarket (in WA) to pick up some sweet potatoes, but all I could find were root vegetables labeled as "yams". Since they looked like sweet potatoes, I thought - perhaps they are the same vegetable - that I would risk the purchase. But, I was filled with foreboding (about how to prepare the tubers) until I found your site. Any chance of adding some yam recipes in the future? It would be interesting to prepare with sweet potatoes to see the end product. Thanks for the clarification!

Ashley said...

I'm actually on Okinawa! And here they are called beni imo. You can get tons of beni imo treats here. My favorite is the beni imo ice cream. Thanks for the recipe!