Many different types of yams are available, yet all of them are members of the morning glory family. Dioscoreaceae, or true yams, are the best-known yam types. In truth, dark orange sweet potatoes account for nearly all non-white potatoes sold in stores in the United States.
True yams are a distinct species belonging to the lily (Dioscorea) family. True white or even purple skin yams are likely found exclusively in specialized markets. In practice, one form of orange-fleshed spud sold in the United States is a sweet potato, while the other is an American yam.
Many of these yam types are native to other parts of the world, and each has its own characteristics. It’s fun to look for them and attempt the recipes each of the varieties of yams is known for. Yams and sweet potatoes are much loved and feature heavily in several holiday dishes. The sweet potato is the state vegetable of North Carolina, and it, along with its yam counterpart, is well worth getting to know.
Everything to Know About Varieties of Yams
The color of the flesh of a yam or sweet potato may assist you in deciding which types of yams to try. White potatoes and white yam types have a few nutritional benefits. White yams or potatoes have slightly higher potassium and fiber content than their more colorful siblings.
Yellow, orange, and purple-hued yams and sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are high in antioxidants such as vitamin C and A, as well as complex carbs. Deep orange varieties of yams contain beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. The healthiest root vegetables are high in these vitamins and minerals.
After you get some of your favorite yam varieties on sale, it’s important to know how to preserve sweet potatoes to last longer. Don’t add uncut yams or sweet potatoes to the fridge. Keep them in the root cellar or pantry instead.
Types of Yams to Grow at Home – American Yam
The yams you buy around the holidays are one of the two primary types of sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas). Sweet potatoes classified as yams in the United States are distinguished from other varieties of sweet potatoes by their softer flesh, red skin, and deep orange flesh.
In contrast, traditional sweet potato varieties are paler inside and out, with drier, firmer flesh. Above all, American yams have a soft, creamy texture when cooked.
American yam sweet potatoes are well-known for their versatility as a festive side dish. When it comes to these recipes, soft American yams are superior to firm, sweet potatoes, whether candied with marshmallows or sprinkled with pecans and brown sugar.
Yam Types for the Home Garden – Japanese Mountain Yam
Yamaimo and Nagaimo are two names for the Japanese Mountain yam. This imported yam has a cylinder form and light, hairy skin with white flesh. Yamaimo is commonly referred to as a sticky yam; however, slimy is a more appropriate description.
Similar to American okra, slimy or mucilaginous may sound unattractive, yet it is a desired feature in cooking. Yamaimo binds Asian pancakes, gives depth to a radish-soy sauce broth, and thickens any noodle bowl dish like okra does.
In these circumstances, the most practical approach to incorporate the Japanese Mountain yam into cooked foods is to grate or julienne it. Uncooked Yamaimo is traditionally used by thinly slicing the peeled yam and adding it to a fresh Japanese salad. This yam is much loved throughout Asia.
Tropical Yam Varieties
Tropical yams are known by a variety of names, including true yams, Indian yams, Kush Kush, Yampi, and more. These tubers thrive in tropical climates of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Several tropical yam cultivars have thick skins with bark-like splits or enormous clefts on one end. Their flesh is white, dry, and firm. These starchy root vegetables grow on a flowering plant that generates vines with green blooms and tiny fruit capsules that grow ten feet long.
Although tropical yams have a dry texture and a bland flavor, the meals in which they’re utilized are designed to enhance their taste.
Mashing Kush Kush is a popular Caribbean comfort dish in which cooked and mashed yams are sauteed with onions, hot peppers, herbs, and seasonings to add moisture and flavor. The tropical yam is often used in a hearty stew dish in West Africa.
Common Types of Yams – Filipino Purple Yam (Ube)
The Ube (Dioscorea alata) is currently trendy and found in most grocery stores. Because of the vibrant color yams provide to desserts, this cultivar with bright purple flesh, also known as Filipino yams, has exploded in popularity in the United States.
The meat of the Ube varies in color from speckled white to solid lavender, and the skin is thick, brown, and strongly ridged.
Modern cooking methods start with prepackaged items like Ube powder rather than fresh yams. When cooked with water, Ube powder becomes a paste-like substance used to make purple cake and cupcake batter, handmade purple ice cream recipes, and other violet-colored baked items.
However, many traditional recipes call for whole Ube yam rather than Ube derivative. Ube candy is made by cooking these purple sweet potatoes with lime zest and condensed milk, then rolling them into logs and sugaring.
Other Different Types of Yams – Okinawan
Okinawan yam, sometimes known as Okinawan purple potato, appears in ice cream and dessert dishes. These yams grow best in the garden in states like Hawaii, where it is a common vegetable. The Okinawa reference derives from the arrival of Japanese imported spuds to Hawaii via Polynesian travelers. The Okinawan yam is good in both savory and sweet cuisines.
Although technically a sweet potato, the tuber is known as Okinawan yam and Okinawan sweet potato. It has a pale copper skin and an oblong type shape reminiscent of sweet potatoes from the United States.
The flesh of the tuber is bright purple once cut open. While it is mainly grown and sold in Hawaii, you may find it in specialized markets throughout the United States.
There is so much diversity in the types of yams available. Different yam types have varying characteristics, from color to flavor and texture. Many varieties of yams are enjoyed worldwide and are a great way to bring a pop of taste or something new to your kitchen.
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