by K. A. Miller
O.K., what's the deal with sweet potatoes and yams. What's the difference? Many
people use the terms interchangeably and can not correctly identify either.
Actually, they are vastly different vegetables that are not related botanically.
Before going further let me say, yes, you can use this recipe with either but
when you learn the difference you will probably want to use yams.
So, how do you tell them apart? The sweet potato has an yellow to reddish orange
colored skin and is oblong shaped tapering to a point at one or both ends.
The yam is brown in color, more rounded and can grow much larger than the sweet
potato (over 100 pounds). The yam is naturally sweeter and softer inside which
is why we prefer yams in this recipe.
There are many varieties of both and one soft variety of sweet potato is often
labeled as a yam. If you look closely you should also see it labeled as a sweet
potato (required by the US Dept. of Agriculture). True yams are not as available
in most areas and due to lax labeling the yam you buy may actually be a sweet
Bottom line... they are both good. Yams are just better. Now let's get to the
5 large yams, peeled, chopped into 2-3 inch chunks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
water, as needed
miniature marshmallows (optional - see end of recipe)
1. Place all ingredients except marshmallows (if used) in a large pot.
2. Add enough water to cover yams 2 inches.
3. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer on medium low until yams are
tender and liquid is syrupy, about 30-45 minutes.
4. Watch closely after 15-20 minutes of simmering to make sure all liquid does
not boil away. Add water if necessary. You should finish with about 1 cup of
syrupy liquid in the pot. If syrup is too thick, add water. If too watery, add
sugar and continue cooking until syrup develops.
Variation: Some people like the yams as they are. Some like to add marshmallows.
After potatoes are cooked, place yams with syrup in a pan and cover top with
miniature marshmallows. Place in oven set on broiler position. Watch closely and
remove as soon as marshmallows are melted. Do not walk away. They will burn
K.A. Miller is a freelance writer and webmaster for a
Southern recipes site.