Are you confused about the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? Yep, so is my local supermarket. In all fairness, I had to do a little research to get to the bottom of it, because I wasn’t sure myself. The names “sweet potato,” which is not at all related to a regular potato, and “yam” are used interchangeably in the US, but they both generally refer to sweet potatoes, no matter the color. Even the dark ones called yams are technically sweet potatoes. True yams are native to Africa and are a staple in tropical and subtropical countries. I have never actually seen one in our country, but here’s what you might find in your market if you live in the States:
- Brown or red-skinned (often called called yams) — these have a soft orange flesh and sweet flavor. The varieties you will likely see are Garnet, Jewel, and Christmas Beauregard. Garnets are my favorites and what I used in these photos.
- Beige-skinned — have a pale yellow flesh. Varieties include Nancy Hall and Juicy Yellow.
- Purple skinned — I see these at my farmer’s market. They have a white flesh and the farmer calls them Japanese sweet potatoes. I don’t find the flesh to be quite as moist as the others mentioned above.
shredded sweet potatoes with apple
3 medium sweet potatoes, such as Garnet or Jewel, peeled (about 2 pounds)
1 apple, cut into fourths and cored (I love using a tart variety, such as Granny Smith)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, unrefined coconut oil or unrefined extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and ground black pepper
½ cup water or apple juice
1-2 Tablespoons 100% pure maple syrup (use less if you use juice)
1. Shred the sweet potatoes and apple in a food processor fitted with the grater attachment.
2. Melt the butter in a large skillet (if you don’t have a large one, do this in two batches. I used a 12-inch.) Add the shredded sweet potatoes and apple and season with sea salt (I use about ½ teaspoon) and black pepper to taste. Saute, stirring occasionally so that the mixture doesn’t stick, about 5 minutes.
3. Once the sweet potatoes don’t look so raw anymore, stir in the water/juice and maple syrup and bring to a simmer. Cook another 5 minutes or until sweet potatoes achieve desired tenderness. Taste for seasoning.