Anonymous asked in Food & DrinkCooking & Recipes · 1 decade ago

Whatever happened to sweet potatoes?

Every time I try to buy sweet potatoes they are really yams. They are not the same thing. I can't find sweet potatoes,they are marked sweet potatoes but are really yams.


Does anyone know why they always call yams sweet potatoes?

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Actually if you are buying in the states they are sweet potatoes yams are rarely sold in the US.

    Several decades ago when orange flesh sweet potatoes were introduced in the southern United States producers and shippers desired to distinguish them from the more traditional white flesh types. The African word "nyami" referring to the starchy, edible root of the Dioscorea genus of plants was adopted in its English form, "yam". Yams in the U.S. are actually sweet potatoes with relatively moist texture and orange flesh. Although the terms are generally used interchangeably, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires that the label "yam" always be accompanied by "sweet potato." The following information outlines several differences between sweet potatoes and yams.

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  • 1 decade ago

    You are correct that sweet potatoes and yams are two different things. We use the words interchangeably here in the US, but all are really sweet potatoes. You can not get yams here in the US. So what YOU are buying ARE sweet potatoes.

    Sweet Potatoes and Yams

    © 2006 Peggy TrowbridgeYam or sweet potato, what in the world is it? Many people use these terms interchangeably both in conversation and in cooking, but they are really two different vegetables.

    Sweet Potatoes

    Popular in the American South, these yellow or orange tubers are elongated with ends that taper to a point and are of two dominant types. The paler-skinned sweet potato has a thin, light yellow skin with pale yellow flesh which is not sweet and has a dry, crumbly texture similar to a white baking potato. The darker-skinned variety (which is most often called "yam" in error) has a thicker, dark orange to reddish skin with a vivid orange, sweet flesh and a moist texture.

    Current popular sweet potato varieties include Goldrush, Georgia Red, Centennial, Puerto Rico, New Jersey, and Velvet.


    The true yam is the tuber of a tropical vine (Dioscorea batatas) and is not even distantly related to the sweet potato.

    Slowly becoming more common in US markets, the yam is a popular vegetable in Latin American and Caribbean markets, with over 150 varieties available worldwide.

    Generally sweeter than than the sweet potato, this tuber can grow over seven feet in length.

    The word yam comes from African words njam, nyami, or djambi, meaning "to eat," and was first recorded in America in 1676.

    The yam tuber has a brown or black skin which resembles the bark of a tree and off-white, purple or red flesh, depending on the variety. They are at home growing in tropical climates, primarily in South America, Africa, and the Caribbean.

    Yams contain more natural sugar than sweet potatoes and have a higher moisture content. They are also marketed by their Spanish names, boniato and ñame.

    Source(s): I work in produce.
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  • 1 decade ago

    First of all, are you sure they are yams? Yams have white flesh and can weigh up to ten pounds. If the flesh is orange it is a sweet potato. To make it even more confusing, the US Government got involved, and said that one variety of sweet potato could be marketed as a "yam." But again, last word, if it's orange, it's a sweet potato.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    In NZ they are called Kumara, maybe try looking for them under a different name.

    Good luck.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    i ate them all

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