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West African Yams
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West African yams range from small, about the size of a common potato, to very large in size with the capacity to grow over one meter in length and weigh over one hundred pounds. The edible tubers are thick, elongated, and cylindrical in shape with a slight tapering at one end and the brown to tan skin is rough and scaly. Underneath the tough skin, the cream-colored flesh is dense, dry, and starchy. When cooked, West African yams have a mild, earthy flavor with a subtle sweetness.
West African yams are available year-round in select regions of Africa.
West African yams, botanically classified as Dioscorea rotundata, are the tubers of creeping, leafy vines that can reach over twelve meters in length and are members of the Dioscoreaceae family. Considered to be one of the most important crops in Africa, West African yams are grown in the “yam belt” which is a fertile region of land spanning across Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Benin. This belt produces over ninety percent of the yams sold globally and is one of the region’s primary cash crops. West African yams are favored for their hunger sustainment, mild flavor, easy-to-grow nature, and long storage life, and are used in a wide variety of cooked applications.
West African yams contain vitamins A, B6, and C, fiber, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, and copper.
West African yams are toxic when raw and must be cooked prior to consumption. The tubers are commonly boiled, sprinkled with palm oil and served with eggs, or they are boiled and mashed into a dough-like paste known as fufu and is served with soups and stews. West African yams can also be fried, baked, or roasted, mixed with meats and cooked vegetables, or they can be dried and ground into a flour for extended use. The starchy tubers can be used as a substitute in recipes calling for potatoes and can also be grated into fritters or sliced and mixed into biscuit dough. West African yams pair well with caramelized onions, pine nuts, leeks, eggs, tomatoes, green beans, peanuts, and meats such as poultry, beef, and lamb. Whole, raw tubers will keep 4-6 months when stored in a cool, dry, and dark place, and once cooked, the tuber will keep 2-3 days when stored in the refrigerator.
Known as the “King of Crops” by the Igbos people in Nigeria, Africa, yams are highly revered for their large size, earthy flavor, and for their use as a staple ingredient in everyday cooking. Depending on the starchy roots during the wet season as a source of nutrients, yams are seen as life-giving and are honored by the Igbos people every year at yam festivals. During these festivals, which take place in August and September, yams are offered to ancestors and the earth goddess as a sign of respect and thanks for the bountiful season to come. The last season’s yams are also discarded, and bowls, cookware, and utensils are cleaned to start fresh with the new harvest. In addition to new beginnings, the festival is celebrated with music, dancing, and drumming along with fresh servings of fufu, soups, and stews.
West African yams are believed to be native to West Africa, and artifacts have been discovered which have led researchers to estimate that yams have been used since 50,000 BCE. Today West African yams are cultivated in the yam belt, also known as Ghana, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Benin, and are exported globally to countries around the world. In Africa, West African yams can be found at local markets and found growing in home gardens.
Recipes that include West African Yams. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Recipes From a Pantry||African Yam Fries|
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Pecks Farm Market
A MartNear Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin, United States
694 S Whitney Way Madison WI 53711
About 565 days ago, 2/29/20
Sharer's comments : Ghana Yam
Remon Afro Asian Market
Ramon Afro Market RotterdamNear Rotterdam, South Holland, Netherlands
About 687 days ago, 10/31/19
Sharer's comments : Interestingly West African yams probably from Ghana are finding demand around the world..