Yams Versus Sweet Potatoes

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Yams Versus Sweet Potatoes…. What is the difference between Yams and Sweet Potatoes?  Yams are the darker orange colored ones. The Sweet Potatoes are the tannish or light colored looking potatoes. My husband and I went to dinner the other night with some friends and they started talking about Yams and Sweet Potatoes. They mentioned they like the Sweet Potato baked with only salt and pepper, or even just plain. Yams need more toppings…hmmm.

Well, I am sitting there thinking okay, I want the brown sugar, cinnamon and butter toppings on mine. Our friends, Craig and Linda also mentioned you can only find the Sweet Potatoes at our local Harmon’s grocery store. The other stores do not carry Sweet Potatoes…only Yams. Of course, then I have to go to Harmon’s, check it out, pick some to bake and compare. I could not find them in three other local stores. Only at Harmon’s…interesting…don’t you think?

So today, I am going to give you some tidbits I learned about the two different foods. They are not even related. They are both flowering plants but are not related botanically.

Yam: Baked or boiled-1 cup: 118 calories. Carbs: 28 grams. Sugar: 0.5 grams

Yams are closely related to lilies and grasses. There are over 600 varieties of yams and 95% of these are grown in Africa. They are native to Africa and Asia. Yams are starchier and a much drier potato. Yams are a monocot (a plant with only one embryonic seed leaf). The yam is typically a darker skin with a bright orange flesh.

Sweet Potato: Baked or boiled-1 cup: 86 calories. Carbs: 20 grams. Sugar: 4.2 grams

Sweet Potatoes are members of the morning glory family. (Convolvulaceae). The skin color can range from yellow, red, purple or even brown. The flesh is usually white, yellow or light orange-red.

In the United States firm varieties of sweet potatoes were produced before soft varieties were available on the market. The “soft” sweet potatoes are often labeled yams. The “soft” ones are more moist and soft when baked. Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires labels with the term “yam” to be accompanied by the term “sweet potato”. Interesting, and yet a little confusing. I did bake the Yams and the Sweet Potatoes…the Sweet Potatoes were moister and needed less seasoning, in my opinion.

I can still see my mother making those yams and sweet potatoes with brown sugar, butter, then baked with marshmallows on top. Gotta love the memories. I have a sweet tooth so I will eat mine with brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter…. now you know the difference between Yams Versus Sweet Potatoes! My husband is not fond of the yams or sweet potatoes, so that is not a dish our kids grew up with…nope not one hint of yams at our house.

I remember bringing home a can, yes a can of yams, years ago. I thought wow, I don’t have to peel these..SOLD! That is the only can of yams I ever bought since I got married. I had to take a dish to a church function. LOL!

Just so you know I did a post on Sweet Potato Chips…..hmmm. I think these are Yam Chips! Oh well, they taste awesome! Here’s the picture I took at my local Harmon’s Grocery Store, I talked to the manager Ken…they are totally different…Yams on the left and Sweet Potatoes on the right:

Yams and Sweet Potatoes

 

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13 thoughts on “Yams Versus Sweet Potatoes

  • May 30, 2014 at 10:07 am
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    Wow, I thought the 2 were the same, and were just called different names. I cannot eat regular potatoes, but can eat sweet potatoes (and yams!) as they aren’t ‘really’ potatoes. Glad both of these are ok and just love them!

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    • May 30, 2014 at 11:58 am
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      Hi Rebeccam I thought the very same thing! Linda

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    • May 30, 2014 at 9:14 pm
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      Hi Anna,I never thought there was any difference. Thanks for stopping by! Linda

      Reply
  • May 30, 2014 at 8:08 pm
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    Both of the pictured veggies are sweetpotatoes. The true yam has a very brown skin like that of an Irish potato or a brown fibrous skin. This year I am growing a variety sweetpotatoes including a true purple, an oriental purple (white flesh) and 2 types of orange, one vining and one bush.

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    • May 30, 2014 at 9:17 pm
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      Hi Susan, I thought the same thing but I wanted to be sure so I talked to the produce manager and he told me the difference between the two. He mentioned the two come in many different colors. He mentioned it is really hard to stock the sweet potatoes shown. I can only go off what he told me and the information on the boxes they were contained in. They for sure have a different texture. I was very surprised about that. I read they would be different. Interesting….Linda

      Reply
  • May 31, 2014 at 12:12 pm
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    So funny that you did this post. When Dave and I were down last weekend I bought sweet potatoes at Harmons. Real sweet potatoes are hard to find. He prefers yams, but I love the flavor and texture of sweet potatoes.

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    • May 31, 2014 at 12:23 pm
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      Lisa, thanks for commenting! I love the texture of the sweet potatoes from Harmon’s. They are so moist and yummy! Hug! Linda

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  • June 3, 2014 at 8:52 pm
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    Glad to know this as I will now always seek out sweet potatoes. I, too, love them with cinnamon, brown sugar, and butter. Candied yams was always a coveted treat for Thanksgiving growing up.

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    • June 4, 2014 at 7:08 am
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      Hi Mark, it is really interesting about the difference. I baked both and had my family try them over the Memorial Day weekend. They are sweeter. I love candied yams too! Linda

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  • May 12, 2016 at 10:27 am
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    Thank you for sharing! I was always told they were the same thing! I am so glad that I know that there is a difference, even if it doesn’t matter much. Thanks government, for making that confusing! I probably could have looked it up myself, but didn’t because of what I was taught.

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    • May 12, 2016 at 12:45 pm
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      HI Danielle, I always thought they were the same thing until I baked them and tasted them side by side. There is a difference at least with the ones I can buy at my favorite store here in town. Linda

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  • November 2, 2016 at 2:30 am
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    Hi Linda,

    Susan is correct. Both the sweet potato and the garnet yam pictured are both sweet potatoes. True yams are large root vegetable with fibrous skins and white meat. You’ve probably never eaten them. Google “sweet potato vs. yam.”

    Reply

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