Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I've learned something new today, which makes it a good day.

Another new food!

Apparently this is a yam.  It looked to me like a piece of wood, but it's in the potato family.  When cooked and chopped, it looks like potato and it tastes rather like potato crossed with a turnip.  Turns out I've been eating it for weeks in soup, as a matter of fact - I suppose I just thought it was a potato with a slightly different consistency.

I decided to do a web search, and I found that they grow up to 450 pounds - that's not a typo - in Jamaica. (http://www.sweetplantains-stjohn.com/St.JohnNews/CaribbeanCuisine/WestIndianProvisions/Provisions.htm)  Good grief.   I wonder if they grow anywhere near that big in Darbonne, where this grew... I always thought a yam was a sweet potato, but apparently there are quite a number of kinds. 

So I turn to the easily available information from Wikipedia (though I do realize its accuracy is questionable).  Allow me to share:

Yam tubers can grow up to 1.5 m (4.9 ft) in length and weigh up to 70 kg (154 lb) and 3 to 6 inches high. 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 mature yams.

This maximum yam size is much smaller than the other article indicated, but never mind. I have no idea which is the more accurate version.

Furthermore, apparently I have reason for my confusion as to yams and sweet potatoes:
In the United States, sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas), especially those with orange flesh, are often referred to as "yams." In the United States, firm varieties of sweet potatoes were produced before soft varieties. When soft varieties were first grown commercially, there was a need to differentiate between the two. African slaves had already been calling the soft sweet potatoes "yams" because they resembled the yams in Africa. Thus, soft sweet potatoes were referred to as yams to distinguish them from the firm varieties. Sweet potatoes labeled as "yams" are widely available in markets that serve Asian or Caribbean communities. Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires sweet potatoes labeled with the term "yam" to be accompanied by the term "sweet potato."

Anyone have any good recipes to share?


    4 medium sweet potatoes - (orange inside)

    Wash the outside of the potatoes and bake in the oven on a foil lined cookie sheet at 350 for 1 1/2 hours or until very soft. (I just prick them, wrap in a wet paper towel and microwave them for about 8 minutes per potato.)

    Cool potatoes, then cut open and scoop out insides into a bowl.

    Mash well and add:
    3/4 c. low fat sour cream
    1/2 c. orange juice
    1/2 stick melted butter or margarine (1/4 c. if using soft margarine)
    1/2 c. sugar
    1 t. cinnamon
    3/4 t. salt

    Mix until smooth and put into a casserole dish. Sprinkle top with a little extra sugar and cinnamon is desired. (Can be refrigerated at this point until the next day.)

    Bake covered at 350 degrees until hot. (for about 45 minutes or an hour if refrigerated first.)

  2. That sounds really good! Thanks!
    -- Sarah SSM