Sweet potatoes originated in Africa, and were brought to the United States during the African slave trade. They also go back to Europe, the Antebellum South, and the New England colonists. Those colonists were fond of using pumpkin in dishes until they tried the even tastier and silkier smooth texture of recipes prepared using sweet potatoes. Sweet potato pie is especially popular in African-American homes.
Yam or Sweet Potato?
What has been grown, improved and propagated in the United States is the sweet potato. You may see this root labeled “yam” in a grocery store, but that doesn’t make it a true yam. In fact, the U.S. Department of Agriculture now requires labels with the term “yam” to include “sweet potato”.
There is a true yam native to Africa and Asia, and it is in the Dioscoreaceae or yam family related to lilies and grasses. The sweet potato is in the Convolvulacea or morning-glory family and varieties of ipomoea batatasare have been eaten by Americans for centuries. They were already an important food source for Native Americans when European settlers moved into the Southeast. (Courtesy of Kat Bergeron, a veteran feature writer specializing in Gulf Coast history).
The moral of this story is that an American sweet potato by any name is not a yam. Or, is it that a yam by any name is a sweet potato? In any case, it’s a by-product of a great dessert!
Sweet potato pie is also very healthy because it contains vitamins A, C, and B6 as well as fiber and potassium. Sweet potatoes are hardy because they can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to four weeks.
My mother’s recipe calls for Yams. Apparently, yams are sweeter and creamier than sweet potatoes, and in my mother’s opinion are better for baking.
My mother’s recipe
1.Put all the ingredients in a blender, and blend until a thick consistency. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. When pie is stiff and no longer soupy, it will be done. Let cool and put in the refrigerator. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.