Yam is the name of a cultivated climbing plant of the genus diascorea which grows in tropical areas, of which only the root, or tuber, is eaten. The fibrous skin of the tuber varies in colour from red to brown and the moist flesh from white to yellow. There are many varieties of yam, whose tubers vary in size from relatively small to very large.
In many countries, particularly in Africa and the West Indies, the yam, which is often confused with the SWEET POTATO, forms the staple diet, and has the advantage that it may be stored for several months.
To cook yams, first peel them, then cut them in halves or quarters if they are large. Place them in a saucepan, add salt to taste and cover with water. Bring to the boil, then cook them over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes or until they are tender. Yams may also be baked, roasted or fried.
Yams have little nutritive value and consist almost solely of starch.