Moist, orange-fleshed varieties dominate the market, but you can also find dry yellow-fleshed types. Moist-fleshed potatoes are often incorrectly called "yams". True yams are large (up to 100 pounds) and are seldom available in this country. However, common usage has made the term "yams" acceptable when referring to sweet potatoes.

Choose sweet potatoes that are firm and clean, with no visible blemishes or odor. They should be heavy for their size. Beware of decay, usually appearing at the end of the potatoes, which can affect the whole flavor of the potato. At home store them in a cool, dry place, never in the refrigerator where they may develop a hard core and an "off taste". Sweet potatoes will keep for a month or longer if stored at 55 degrees; at room temperature they should be used within a week of purchase.

With its naturally sweet taste and creamy texture, this vegetable seldom requires the quantities of butter, sugar, or cream called for in traditional recipes. To enhance the flavor without adding a lot of calories, slice the cooked sweet potatoes and place them in a saucepan with a little apple juice or cider; cook over low heat until the liquid forms a glaze. They can also be whipped with some orange peel, orange juice, or pineapple juice and then seasoned with nutmeg, cinnamon, and ginger for a great taste.