There is often confusion between a yam and a sweet potato. While they have similar flavor and texture, allowing them to be used similarly in recipes, they are roots of completely different plants. Yams are from Africa and Asia and are closely related to lilly and grass species of plants. Sweet potatoes are from Central and South America and are closely related to morning glory plants. The confusion started when sweet potatoes were grown in the southern USA, where African slaves called the soft varieties of sweet potatoes “yams” because of the similarities to true yams that were part of their culinary history. Most produce available in supermarkets in the USA are sweet potatoes. Your students will be trying orange variety of sweet potatoes, aka “yams”, this week.
Sweet potatoes have a major role in southern cooking. If you want to try something a little different with sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving, try making a sweet potato pie. You can find many recipes online, but I just substitute equal amounts of cooked, mashed sweet potato instead of pumpkin puree in my favorite pumpkin pie recipe. If you must have toasted marshmallows with your sweet potatoes, you can decorate the top of the pie with them and broil the top in the oven for a few minutes to toast the top.
Fresh pineapple is one of my favorite fruits. Do not be intimidated by the whole fruit, it is easy to cut into the bite sized pieces you find re-packaged in the store. You usually end up with more fruit for your money. I cut off the top and the bottom, then slice down the sides to “peel” the outside. Then cut into chunks. You can eat the core, but it is too fibrous for most people. Each little hexagon on the outside of the fruit was, at one time, its own flower. As the flowers mature into the compound juicy fruits that we eat. Most pineapples do not have seeds because growers exclude the main pollinator of pineapples which are hummingbirds. The crown of a pineapple, the cluster of leaves at the top, can be used to propagate new pineapple plant. You can try to grow the next pineapple you purchase by suspending the base of the crown in water until roots begin to develop and transplanting it into a pot with soil.