Differentiating between each variety can be difficult but I'll always know I am what I yam!
Yam is often used interchangeably with the name sweet potato. In the United States, both phrases refer to the same tuberous root vegetable with moist flesh and a deep sweet flavor. The traditional sweet potato in the US has white flesh. When the orange flesh sweet potato was first introduced, the producer and shipper make an effort to distinguish the new variety by using the English form of the African word "nyami". The term yam sticks with the sweet potato ever since. Sweet potato is packed with nutrition - in particular, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, and calcium.
This week, The Juice delves into the three yam varieties we carry; the purple yam, the jumbo yam, and the Japanese yam. They can be easily differentiated by appearance, but let Purvey'd break down the characteristic of each type for you.
Purple yam is also known as ube, violet yam, and purple sweet potato. It has a thin cylindrical shape with white or purple skin. The flesh is purple with white specks. Purple yam tastes sweet and nutty. White skin purple yam is sweeter than the purple skin purple yam. In addition to the vibrant color and great taste, purple yam is rich in anthocyanins that is a strong antioxidant. No wonder why the purple yam is a popular ingredient in Asian desserts, such as Halo-Halo and ube ice cream.
Jumbo yam is otherwise called sweet potato. Jumbo is referred to as its size. It has an oval shape that is tapered at the end with brown skin and orange flesh. The flavor is mild, starchy, and sweet. The jumbo yam is less sweet than the purple yam but they stay moist for longer. It is loaded with carotenoids which enhance the immune system and contribute to eye health. Jumbo yam is suitable for baking, mashing, and frying. When you get tired of potato fries, sweet potato fries made from jumbo yam are a great substitute. The same crunchiness with a sweet twist.
The Japanese yam is also called Satsuma Imo, sweet yam, Japanese sweet potato. It has oblong shaped with thin, rusted red skin, and creamed-color flesh that turns golden when baked. The flesh is dry, starchy, and subtly sweet. Japanese yam is sweeter than jumbo yam and usually takes longer to cook due to its dense texture. Japanese yam is commonly baked, roasted, or deep-fried and syrup glazed, especially in the fall, winter weather. How nice would it be to be holding a warm roasted Japanese yam with the lightly sweet aroma sifting in the air? It's perfect!