Super Sweet Potato Facts

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Sweet Potato Facts

Think you know all there is about North Carolina sweet potatoes? Test your knowledge with interesting facts below.

Yam I Am … Not

The sweet, orange-colored root vegetable that is often thought of as a yam in the U.S. is actually a sweet potato. All so-called yams are sweet potatoes. Some people think that long, red-skinned ones are yams, but they really are just one of many varieties of sweet potatoes.

A true yam is a starchy edible tuber that is generally imported from the Caribbean. It differs greatly from the sweet potato in taste, texture, appearance and family.

SEE MORE: Sweet Potato Recipes

Depending on the variety, sweet potato flesh can vary from white to orange and even purple. The orange-fleshed variety was introduced to the U.S. several decades ago. In order to distinguish it from the white variety everyone was accustomed to, producers and shippers chose the English form of the African word “nyami” and labeled them “yams.”

Even though the U.S. Department of Agriculture requires them to always be labeled “sweet potato,” many people still think of sweet potatoes as yams regardless of their true identity.

Sweet Potatoes

Farm Facts: Sweet Potatoes

  • Producing 50 percent of the sweet potatoes grown in the U.S., North Carolina ranks as the No. 1 sweet potato producing state.
  • The sweet potato was designated as the Official Vegetable of the State of North Carolina in 1995.
  • There are some 350 commercial sweet potato farmers in North Carolina. In 2013, 53,000 acres of sweet potatoes were grown in North Carolina for a total of 212 billion individual sweet potatoes with a farm gate value of $228.9 million.
  • Sweet potatoes should never be refrigerated unless they are cooked. Temperatures below 55 degrees damage the quality and destroy the flavor, causing them to become bitter.

Source: North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission

– Linda L. Leake

1 Comment

  1. B. Boone

    September 19, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I love sweet potatoes/yams, but for the past couple of years the potatoes I’ve been buying are aweful. They are watery when cooked, not very sweet, have light streaks in them which dry out, and just don’t taste very good. I used to bake them and eat right from the pan, but no longer. Many of my friends who bake say that they experience the same thing. What’s happened to one of my favorite vegetables?

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