The yam is part of the spurge family of liana grown in tropical climates for its fleshy edible rootstock which yields nutritious starch.
There are 130 varieties on yam, only seven of which are edible; the others are toxic and mostly used in pharmacology.
It grows mainly in the tropical and subtropical regions of
Africa, Asia and America with only one variety, the Chinese yam,
growing in a moderate climate.
The yam is the most eaten vegetable in the world. It is a staple food in several countries, most notably South America and the Antilles. The yam is different from the sweet potato with which it is often mistaken in North America.
The yam’s skin can vary from white to pink to brown or almost black. It is hard, thick, slightly rough and hairy. The yam has an elongated shape, like the sweet potato, though some varieties are rounder. The yam can weigh up to 20 kilos and reach up to 50 centimetres in diameter.
Its flesh is very mild tasting, much like certain varieties of
sweet potato, but not as sweet. The yam is rich in starch and
contains a mucilaginous substance that makes it sticky. Depending
on the variety, when the yam is cooked, it either becomes very
creamy or remains slightly firm.
- Choose a firm yam that has no soft spots or mould.
- Like the potato, the yam is always eaten cooked because it contains a great deal of non digestible starch that turns to sugar with cooking.
- Peel the yam, cut in pieces or cubes and blanch for 10 to 20 minutes in boiling salt water.
- Use the yam in the same way as the potato; add to soups and stews, or grate and use in cakes or breads.
- Boiled or puréed, the yam has little very flavour.
- It is excellent fried!
- Oven-baking tends to dry out the yam; we recommend serving it with a sauce.
- The yam can be substituted for the sweet potato or the potato in most recipes. Only the smallest yams can be cooked with the skin
Yams are available year-round in the produce section of your local METRO supermarket.
The yam is an excellent source of :
It is also rich in :
- Vitamins C and B6
- Folic acid
Store yams in a cool, dark, dry, airy location. Yams will spoil faster at higher temperatures; do not store in a plastic bag which will create moisture.