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Nov 27, 2013 10:53 AM

Yellow sweet potatoes?!

We're glad we're making this dish ahead, because we just discovered that our sweet potatoes are yellow inside, and not orange as expected (and purchased). I looked it up, and it says they're supposed to be milder and less sweet? I admit we never knew there were yellow sweet potatoes! Has anyone experienced this? I don't understand why the grocery store failed to label them correctly.

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  1. My guess is that you bought 'true' sweet potatoes, not the orange yams that most of us 'call' sweet potatoes. I don't find that much taste difference, so I'd use them the same as the orange yams.

    10 Replies
    1. re: pine time

      "My guess is that you bought 'true' sweet potatoes, not the orange yams that most of us 'call' sweet potatoes."

      Those "orange yams" are not yams.

      1. re: MGZ

        What are they, then? Gotta pull out my (probably outdated) botany book!

            1. re: Becca Porter

              Ha--I can blame my mess-up on the USDA:

              always nice to have someone else to blame!

              Actually, should have stuck to the purple ones I raised last year.

              1. re: pine time

                Huffington has it backwards.


                " The orange-fleshed variety was introduced to the United States several decades ago. In order to distinguish it from the white variety everyone was accustomed to, producers and shippers chose the English form of the African word “nyami” and labeled them “yams.”

                Even though the USDA requires that orange-colored sweet potatoes always be labeled “sweet potato,” most people still think of sweet potatoes as yams regardless of their true identity."

                The use 'yam' (or something similar) for sweet potato has earlier roots - when it was introduced into Africa, some people chose to use their familiar 'nyami' term for this root.

                1. re: paulj

                  It's not actually that different from us calling it sweet potato because the first English speaking people to see it were more familiar with potatoes!

                  1. re: Ulyyf

                    Although the use of 'potato' is more complicated than that. English speakers in both the USA and England did not take to the white or Irish potato until early in the 19th c. Elizabethans were more familiar with the sweet potato.

                    "Let the Sky Rain Potatoes"

                    The scientific term 'batata' comes from a Caribbean Indian language. The Quechua gave the Spaniards 'papa' (and the Solanum tuberosum). 'patata' is combination of these two words. Though 'camote' is the usual term in Spanish for sweet potato.


                    1. re: paulj

                      "Potato, patahto, let's call the whole thing off..."

                      1. re: pine time

                        Sometimes, it's fun to pretend that kickin' that poor, old, dead horse is gonna help.

                        From a 'hound's point of view, however, unnecessary pounding just ruins the meat. It tends to make it stringy and tainted with an unresolveable bitterness. There is very little seasoning that can be applied to cover up the damage done by such misdirected vitriol. At bottom, there is a reason that one "strikes" a balance when makin' schnitzel. Same applies to kneadin' pizza dough, you know?

    2. I like yellow sweet potatoes over yams. They are more like a potato, a bit mealy, while yams are more fibrous and wet.

      1. I think they are "starchier" and not as sweet, I prefer them over the garnets

        1. There are many different varieties of sweet potato, with different colors of flesh and skin, different degrees of sweetness, etc.

          The Asian grocery that I frequent has:
          'white yams'
          'red yams'
          'Japanese yams'
          'purple (Okinawa) yams'

          Red and white are cheaper and closer to the varieties sold in 'western' groceries, but I prefer the flavor of the Japanese and purple.

          The orange flesh sweet potato has, for some reason, become the standard for Thanksgiving, but, apart from expectations, there is no reason to stick with it.

          9 Replies
          1. re: paulj

            Our farmers' market had at least 2 varieties of orange sweet potatoes, 2 white, 1 yellow, and 1 purple when I shopped yesterday. Later in the season will be maybe another 2 - 3 varieties each of orange and white while the nearby Asian grocery will also have 2 or 3 varieties of purple.

            My personal preference is for white sweet potatoes. One type has an almost chestnut-like flavor but I will be roasting orange, white, and purple tomorrow along with my Brussels sprouts.

            1. re: rockycat

              This is also a purple yam that is popular in the Philippines, which is closer to the old world (African) yam. I've only seen that in processed form (frozen or jam).

              1. re: paulj

                Are both of you two talking about sweet potatoes or real yams?

                1. re: Shrinkrap

                  I'm talking about sweet potatoes.

                    1. re: Shrinkrap

                      The color gets more intense with cooking. The skin is light color. I'm getting them for about $2/lb (versus $1.30 for Japanese).

                      I like them baked plain, but for TDay I'm thinking of making a Sweet Potato Espuma (ISI Cream foam).

                      1. re: paulj

                        The vendor I bought them from said that she would be making a purple sweet potato pie again this year. Even though (by the farmers' market's rules) she is the grower, last year her family didn't believe that she didn't put food coloring in the pie. I would dearly love to put a purple pie on the table but we have enough desserts already. Maybe next year.

                        1. re: rockycat

                          I make a casserole with mashed or rough chopped Hawaiian apple bananas and mashed Okinawan sweet potatoes, mixed together, that people rave over. The colors are a little alarming when you get your first glimpse (there's a light layer of brown sugar topped with a crust of crushed corn flakes and chopped macadamia nuts with butter dotted on it), but the combo of off white and purple kind of grows on you. :-) It also tastes great! It's an old island recipe, although the original was published before the advent of Okinawan sweet potatoes.

                  1. re: Shrinkrap

                    Primarily I am talking about real sweet potato varieties, which may also be labeled as 'yam'. But I did note that Asian groceries may also have a purple (true) yam, used mainly in SE Asia as a flavoring/coloring for sweets.

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