The terms “sweet potato” and “yam” are constantly (and mistakenly) used interchangeably in the United States. The confusion started back in the 1930s when Louisiana sweet potato farmers began marketing their orange-fleshed sweet potatoes as “yams” to distinguish their produce from other states’ vegetables.
|Thin, reddish skin||Rough, brown skin|
|Orange, white or purple flesh||Pale flesh|
|Originated in South or Central America||Originated in Africa|
|Sweet flavor||Neutral flavor|
Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet and their flavor is enhanced through cooking. While the most common type of sweet potato is the copper-colored one, there are three major types of the vegetable in most American supermarkets: orange, white and purple.
Yams, on the other hand, are not even potatoes. Native to the tropical regions of Africa and Asia, yams have dry starchy flesh. While their flesh is usually pale, their skin is brown-colored. Compared to sweet potatoes, yams have an earthy, neutral taste.
Sweet Potato VS Yam
Many people use the terms “sweet potato” and “yam” as if they were interchangeable. Even though some stores do sell orange-fleshed sweet potatoes as yams, these two are actually two different vegetables. Real yams are more like yucca when it comes to texture and flavor, and they have starchy flesh, not sweet.