The Sweet Potato vs. Yam Debate: Unraveling the Confusion

The Sweet Potato vs. Yam Debate: Unraveling the Confusion

Short answer why do they call sweet potatoes yams:

This is a misnomer, as sweet potatoes are not actually yams. The confusion started in the US during the 20th century when orange-fleshed varieties were introduced and marketed as “yams” to differentiate them from white-fleshed sweet potatoes. True yams are native to Africa and Asia, with rough skin and starchy flesh.

The History of the Sweet Potato vs. Yam Debate

The sweet potato vs. yam debate has been raging for centuries, with many people using the terms interchangeably without realizing that they are in fact two distinct tubers. Despite their differences, these two root vegetables have a curious and fascinating history.

Let’s start with the sweet potato. This tuber is native to Central America and was first domesticated by indigenous people around 5000 years ago. Spaniards who explored Mexico in the sixteenth century brought sweet potatoes back to Europe along with other treasures from the New World such as chocolate and tobacco.

Sweet potatoes then made their way across Africa via trade routes established during colonial times. It is in this continent where the confusion between sweet potato and yams begins: enslaved Africans on Caribbean plantations began calling orange-fleshed sweet potatoes “yams,” because it reminded them of similar-looking African vegetables with starchy or hard white flesh called nyami (pronounced “nya-mee”).

Yams themselves originated from West Africa some 50 million years ago – yes, millions! Early humans living there discovered how edible species grows abundantly underground, granting nutrient-rich hàrvests aside meats.

Unlike sweet potatoes which belong to Ipomea batatas family; Yams come from different genus Dioscorea classification which contains over a hundred known edible variants spanned regions including Asia and South America too.

In an effort to distinguish one vegetable from another when importing them into North American markets whose consumers were used to purchasing “sweet” varieties,” exporters added labels like ‘sweet yam‘, thus adding more confusion into mix!

Over time, even more marketing efforts led well-meaning sellers started encouraging customers calling all forms of orange-fleshed vegetables being sold at marketplaces as ‘yams’ Yet what we frequently accept as “candied yams” around Thanksgiving dinner tables everywhere doesn’t usually contain either real Yam or Sweet Potato – various recipes refer plaintively towards canned-syrup yams sold at supermarkets, are actually sweet potatoes!

So the next time you find yourself in a heated discussion about sweet potato vs. yam – whether it be over dinner or online – remember: while both vegetables may look similar on the outside and share some common characteristics, their botanical structures, aromas and tastes couldn’t be more different. That being said, regardless of what we call them – they are undeniably delicious! And those canned supermarket cans with ‘yams’ plastered across the label? Reach for good ol’ can of “Sweet Potatoes” instead.

At this point, let’s just agree that no matter which one we prefer or mislabel — Sweet Potato Casseroles partnered Thanksgiving turkey will continue to elicit smile-inducing memories year after year #DeliciousnessWins

How to Distinguish Between Sweet Potatoes and Yams

Ah, the age-old question that has confused many a dinner party host: are these sweet potatoes or yams? While they may look similar at first glance, there are actually significant differences between the two root vegetables. Fear not, dear reader, for in this post we shall unravel the mysteries and teach you how to distinguish between them with ease.

Let’s start by defining our terms here. Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) belong to the morning glory family and are native to Central and South America. They have a smooth skin that can come in shades of orange, yellow, red, brownish-purple or beige. On the inside they have a vividly colored flesh ranging from white through all shades of yellow/ orange down towards deep purple/red/orange/yellow depending on cultivars while yams (Dioscorea spp.) belong to an entirely different plant genus originating from Africa and Asia which share similarities with roots such as cassava or taro comprising over 600 species but only some varieties frequently marketed outside tropical regions). Yams typically have a rougher outer appearance than sweet potatoes although size-wise tend often to be larger despite confusion at markets online referring to garnet-type sweet potato cultivar “purple yam.”

So how do we tell them apart? Well firstly you’ll want to take note of their physical characteristics. As mentioned previously Sweet Potatoes tend towards much smoother skin compared with Yams surface covered by papery rhyzomes indicating its scientific classification as a monocotyledonous flowering plant bearing one embryonic leaf structure comprising internalized stems underground. You’ll also notice that sweet potatoes come in varying shapes including oblongs like Jersey Sweets or round like Beauregard variety (many sellers calling these ‘yam-shaped’ though misnomers), whereas most Yam varieties grow longer straight forms more tapered ends akin turnips if grown large enough spans decades popular African cuisine festivals decorate stalls and table settings. Generally, sweet potatoes can be found year-round in grocery stores while Yams tend to become most prevalent during the later months of Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons.

Smitten by color luscious bright or muted tones many people gravitate towards a particular shade when selecting their produce at supermarkets. This is where both Sweet Potatoes & Yams differ significantly not only from one another but also within themselves based around cultivar differences affecting shelf-life ripening duration micronutrients starch firmness sweetness etcetera: Color doesn’t full-proof reveal variety unless examining skins personally though generally speaking interior colors commonly available include white sweet potato like Hannahs or Red Garnets amongst others exhibiting maroon tint alongside dishes on fancier restaurant menus (Here acknowledging that similar deep hues denoted sometimes purple yam garnet coloration truly an offshoot of Ipomoeaic situation).

Yams often have darker brown skin compared with creamy-tan colored skin than sweet potatoes, as well deeper orange flesh although can present cream/white/purple range for humid climate-grown varieties popular across Africa Asia area

Frequently Asked Questions About Why They Call Sweet Potatoes Yams

As a language model, I am unable to taste food. However, I can provide you a detailed professional explanation of why sweet potatoes are often referred to as yams.

Firstly, it is important to note that yams and sweet potatoes are two distinct root vegetables with different origins, cultural significance, flavor profiles and nutritional values.

Yams are native to Africa while sweet potatoes originated in Central or South America. Yams have tough brown skins and white flesh that is much starchier than sweet potatoes which typically have lighter-colored skin (often light orange) with an orange or yellowish flesh that tastes sweeter.

So how did this confusion start? In the United States, there was already a type of potato called “sweet potato” around 1800s when African slaves particularly from West Africa were brought over via slave trade carrying their own variety of vegetable known as “nyami,” which Americans later incorrectly began calling “yam”. Thus “Nyami” became “yam” among the American community.

To distinguish between these similar-looking veggies both belonging to the family of Convolvulaceae (which translates directly into ‘Morning Glory’ plant), USDA assigned a grade label depending upon color shade such as

1. Light Sweet Potato
2. Dark Sweet Potato
3. Yam

While all three—Sweet Potaotes with pale-fleshed roots; those with dark-orange flesh; and garnet yams—are most accurately classed now under one name —-all-purpose title: SWEET POTATOES they differ greatly not only in shades outward but also texture and flavour inside.

The term “yam” was used interchangeably with “sweet potato,” especially by southern farmers who sold them at local markets after harvest season until today even though any true botanist will tell you unequivocally that they’re really quite different vegetal species indeed!

This misnomer persists largely due to marketing and label associations. Grocery stores, especially in the southern states of America, are more likely to market sweet potatoes as yams since otherspotatoes already exist under”Sweet potato”. Additionally, during holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas that feature popular dishes containing sweet potatoes often labeled generically as “candied yams” or “yam casserole”.

In summary – The confusion about calling Sweet Potatoes Yams is largely due to cultural history and labeling practices rather than any factual basis; though a true yam does exist but it is not commonly sold at US supermarkets,w hich made it an all-purpose term raising its popularity ubiquitously.

As a language model , I hope you found this blog helpful in clearing up any questions you may have had about why they call sweet potatoes yams !

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