Whats the Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams There is no mistaking the sweet potato casserole, no matter what sort of magic marshmallows, candied pecans, streusel, etc. There is, however, plenty of mistaking the sweet potato itself. So lets get things straight A sweet potato is not a yam. A yam is not a sweet potato. And by the way, a sweet potato isnt even a potatonor is a yam. Worlds apart. Theyre two different plants. The sweet potato is in the morning glory family, while yams are related to palms and grasses. And they grow in different parts of the world yams in Africa, where they originated, and also Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and Central America. Sweet potatoes in the United States, with North Carolina leading the way in production. What is the difference between sweet potatoes and yams Everyday Mysteries Fun Science Facts from the Library of Congress. Everything you need to know about buying, preparing and cooking sweet potatoes, which are not kin to yams. If youve ever scanned the produce aisle for some sweet potatoes, spotted a sign for yams, and thought, Well, theyre basically the same thing. So at a typical supermarket, what youre buying is an American grown sweet potato. True yams are imported and a rare find outside of ethnic grocery stores. How to tell them apart. A sweet potato has tapered ends and thin, smooth skin and flesh that can range from light beige to burnished orange to purplish, even. A yam is cylindrical, typically white fleshedthere is a purple variety, tooand has rough, dark, almost hairy skin. They are just. Kelly Mc. Iver, executive director of the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission. They taste very different, too. For more on the nutritional value of sweet potatoes vs. Livestrong. com. Want to read more from HuffPost Taste Follow us on Twitter. Share. Share Whats the Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams on Facebook Share Whats the Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams on Twitter. Yams are starchy and dry. Sweet potatoes are, well, sweet and moist, some more than others. So why the confusion The prevailing theory seems to date to the slave era South, where sweet potatoes were established as a crop and dubbed yams, a shortened form of the African word nyami, which means to eat, Mc. Iver said. According to the Louisiana State University Ag. Center, yam as a marketing term for sweet potatoes really took hold in the 1. Louisiana scientists developed a particularly sweet orange fleshed variety, the one were accustomed to these days. Labels on produce bins at the supermarket dont help much. You might still find yam and sweet potato used interchangeably or in tandem. The FDA, which regulates food labeling, doesnt have a so called standard of identity for either sweet potatoes or yams, so either term works. Yam has just kind of stuck, said Mc. Iver. Hirsheimer Hamilton. Sweet spot. In North Carolina, home to more than half of the U. S. crop, the sweet potato harvest starts in mid to late August, said third generation organic farmer Stanley Hughes of Pine Knot Farms in Hurdle Mills, N. C. Peak season runs until December. Thats when theyre at the best, when all the flavors are saturated throughout, he said. Shelf life. The shape and size of sweet potatoes makes no difference in flavor. Just look out for any obvious dings or rotting spots when buying them. At home, take them out of the plastic bag and keep them in a well ventilated container in a cool, dry spot. The basement is good the refrigerator, never. Mc. Iver stores hers in the garage. Theyll keep for up to a month under ideal conditions, she said. Cooked pureeperfect for pie or that inevitable, unmistakable dont call it yam casserolewill keep frozen in airtight bags for at least a year. Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes Heres the Difference. If youve ever scanned the produce aisle for some sweet potatoes, spotted a sign for yams, and thought, Well, theyre basically the same thing. How To Peel A Hard Boiled Egg Easy. While theyre often marketed interchangeably most likely because of a somewhat similar appearance, the truth is, yams and sweet potatoes are very different root vegetables. According to Chef Marc Bauer, master chef at the International Culinary Center, a yam is characterized by dark and sometimes rough skin, though the flesh is whiter in shade and dry. Yams require more oil, cream, or butter when cooked and are generally more starchy than the modern sweet potato, Bauer says. Theyre also grown all over the world. Roast them with other veggies for a delicious side dish, dice them up into a hearty yam stew, or, if youve got a sweet tooth, try a batch of candied yams coated in butter and brown sugar. Sweet potatoes on the other hand, have a lighter skin, with tapered ends, and a light yellow to deep orange flesh. First introduced to the U. S. many decades ago, sweet potatoes have a naturally sweet taste hence the name. As a result, you wont have to add as much butter, oil, or cream in order to enjoy them, says Bauer. And when it comes to recipe ideas, the possibilities are endless Try sweet potato fries, mashed sweet potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, or loaded baked sweet potatoes to name a few. As for how they stack up nutritionally, both vegetables pack a big punch According to Bauer, a 1. Vitamin C and about 8. In contrast, the same 1. Vitamin A needed in your daily diet, with 3. But if its calories youre counting, sweet potatoes might be the way to gothey have more than 2.