Monday, October 12, 2009

Sweet Potato or Yam?

My sister-in-law, Ann, makes the most delicious Sweet Potato Casserole I have ever had. She has made it several times for our Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings and I decided that I needed to make it for our Canadian Thanksgiving dinner this year. So I called her and she kindly shared her recipe with me.

Now, my mind works in odd ways some times. (OK - I know what you are thinking...) But, ever since I decided to make this recipe I have wondered about the difference between sweet potatoes and yams. So I finally 'googled' it.

Many people use these terms interchangeably assuming that they are one in the same vegetable. But, I learned that they are in fact two very different species!

A Yam is a starchy tuber that is mainly grown in Africa, Asia and New Guinea.

They can grow up to 2.5 meters in length and weigh up to 154 pounds! It has a rough skin that is difficult to peel and some species can be toxic if eaten raw.

The Sweet Potato, on the other hand, is what is commonly grown and sold in North America.

It has a delicious, sweet, orange flesh and is only distantly related to the potato and is not related to yams. It was the African slaves in America that first referred to sweet potatoes as yams because they resembled the yams of Africa. So even though you might think you are purchasing yams at your local grocery store, chances are you are buying sweet potatoes.

It is this latter vegetable that I love! (I have never tried a true yam.) And in Ann's wonderful recipe it is to die for. So I made it for the first time yesterday and it was delicious and I just have to share it with you. So here goes :)


4-6 large sweet potatoes
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
3/4 tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. butter
3/4 cup evaporated milk

Bake yams in oven until very soft. Let cool slightly. Peel baked yams and cut into chunks. Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Put into casserole dish or 9x13 pan.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
3 Tbsp. softened butter

Mix topping ingredients together and sprinkle on top of potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. (Note: The potato mixture does puff up a bit during cooking, so allow some room at the top of your dish for expansion.) Enjoy!

I wish all my Canadian family and friends a wonderful Thanksgiving. Blessings to each of you!


  1. MMM I love sweet potatoes. I too thought they were one in the same so I thank you for the little tidbit of knowledge.

  2. Oh, this does sound good! Thanks for sharing!

  3. This sounds so yummy! I love my sweet potatoes done as baked fries with a spicey mayo!


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