The true Yam (Dioscorea batatas) are sometimes mistakenly refered to as "sweet potato" (Ipomoea batatas) , when in fact they are not even distantly related.

Yam's contain more sugar and moisture content than sweet potato, and can grow to over seven feet in length. It's skin is brown or black, and resembles the bark of a tree. The flesh of the yam maybe white, purple or red, depending on variety, and they can be stored for up to six months without refrigeration.

Yams are high in dietary fiber, Vitamins B6 & C, potassium and manganese


Other names: Sweet Potato, potato
Translations: Jamss, Jam, Khoai lang, Słodki ziemniak, Broodwortel, रतालू, Inhame, Батат, Γλυκοπατάτα, بطاطا, 참마, Jam, Ubi rambat, Nami, 薯, Nyam, Korenček, Jam, Batata, בטטה, Јам, 山芋, Igname, Yamswurzel, Ñame, Батат, Jamssi, Сладък картоф

Physical Description

The vegetable has a rough skin which is difficult to peel, but which softens after heating. The skins vary in color from dark brown to light pink. The majority of the vegetable is composed of a much softer substance known as the "meat". This substance ranges in color from white or yellow to purple or pink in ripe yams.

Colors: orange, dark brown, light pink

Tasting Notes

Flavors: sweet
Mouthfeel: Soft, Creamy, Delicate
Food complements: Turkey, Pie, Pork, Chipotles, Black beans, Cheddar
Wine complements: White wine, Red wine
Beverage complements: Cider, Tea, Beer
Substitutes: Sweet potatoes, Parsnips, Taro root

Selecting and Buying

Seasonality: january, february, march, april, may, june, july, august, september, opctober, november, december
Choosing: If they are yellow on the inside they are sweet potatoes, if they are orange on the inside they are yams. Or vice versa. Basically, the color difference isn't an indication of ripeness, it's a different potato. However grocery stores interchange the name yam & sweet potato even tho they are 2 diff things.

Sweet pots/yams have a higher water content than potatoes so just watch your cooking time, etc.

Buying: Look for firm, unblemished yams.
Procuring: Grown as vines and harvesting by digging up, whether a sweet potato or a yam.

Preparation and Use

The yam is a versatile vegetable which has various derivative products after process, it can be barbecued; roasted; fried; grilled; boiled; smoked and when grated it is processed into a desert recipe.

Cleaning: You can hand wash them over running water.

Conserving and Storing

The tubers can be stored up to six months without refrigeration, which makes them a valuable resource for the yearly period of food scarcity at the beginning of the wet season.
Cooked yams may be kept refrigerated for 2 to 3 days. Cooked yams may be frozen using the same method as sweet potatoes.


Historical records in West Africa and of African yams in Europe date back to the sixteenth century. Yams were taken to the Americas through precolonial Portuguese and Spanish on the borders of Brazil and Guyana, followed by a dispersion through the Caribbean.[2]

The coming of the yams (one of the numerous versions from Maré) is described in Pene Nengone (Loyalty Islands - New Caledonia)[3]

In many societies yams are so important that one can speak of a 'yam civilization'. Growing the tuber is associated with magic; the best ones must be given to the chief or king; there is a series of myths connected to a divine origin; a farmer may gain a lot of prestige by growing the largest or longest yam.

In Tonga, the ancient names of the months of the year, and the names of the days of the moon-month, were all geared towards the growing of yam. People of ancient times worshiped the yam. Olhuala is a type of local yam that is a staple food in the Maldives.

On the Japanese island of Rishiri, yams and yam products are regarded as a folk remedy for the treatment of impotence, possibly because of the vegetable's high vitamin E content, but likely because of its evocation of virile phallic imagery, according to the common folk medicine theory of sympathetic medicine.

History: Although it is unclear which came first, the word yam is related to Portuguese inhame or Spanish ñame, which both ultimately derive from the Wolof word nyam, meaning "to sample" or "taste"; in other African languages it can also mean "to eat", e.g. yamyam and doya in Hausa.[citation needed]

There are over 100 tribes and dialects in Nigeria, and each has different language names for Yam, "Isu" is the Yoruba translation or "Iyan" when it has been prepared to be consumed as a main course for dinner.



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