What’s The Difference Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams?

 

Before you reach for the candied yams this Thanksgiving, there’s something you need to know. They’re not actually yams! All this time, many Americans have been making the mistake of calling sweet potatoes “yams.” But there’s actually a difference. It turns out sweet potatoes and yams are not even related. They are two different species of root vegetable with very different backgrounds and uses.

The word yam comes from an African word, which means “to eat.” The yam holds great importance as a foodstuff because it keeps for a long time in storage and is very valuable during the wet season, when food is scarce. For eating, yams are typically peeled, boiled and mashed or dried and ground into a powder that can be cooked into a porridge.

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