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Yam leaves are medium to large in size and broad and heart-shaped, averaging 5-15 centimeters in length and 2-10 centimeters in width. The surface of the vibrant green leaf is smooth while the underside is velvety, and the edges of the leaf are even and taper to a single pointed tip. Yam leaves have many veins that extend from the top of the heart-shape throughout the surface of the leaf and has long stems that are attached to the vines of the plant. Yam leaves are tender and have a mild, green flavor similar to water spinach.
Yam leaves are available during the spring and summer months.
Yam leaves, botanically classified as Dioscorea villosa, grow on a perennial climbing vine that thrives in tropical and subtropical climates and are members of the Dioscoreaceae family. Yams are grown mainly for its roots, and there are only twelve edible yam species out of the six hundred species that belong to the Dioscoreaceae family. Today Yam leaves are often mislabeled and interchanged with sweet potato leaves even though the leaves come from two different families. Sweet potato leaves are predominately used in yam leaf recipes, so research and care should be taken to determine what leaf is actually being used and if the yam leaf is edible as many yam species can be toxic.
Yam leaves contain vitamins A and C, riboflavin, fiber, and iron.
Not all Yam leaves are edible, so caution should be taken when using the leaves in recipes. They are best suited for cooked applications such as boiling, steaming, or sautéing. Yam leaves can be added to soups, curries, and stews and are commonly used in stir-fries. They are also a popular ingredient in the traditional Korean dish of sautéed vegetables known as Namul. Yam leaves are blanched, steamed, or dried and mixed with spices and sauces to create Namul and are served as a condiment. Yam leaves pair well with soy sauce, miso paste, garlic, ginger, curry, sesame oil, onion, and tomatoes. They are highly perishable and will only keep for one day when stored in the refrigerator. It is recommended to use the leaves immediately after harvesting.
Yam leaves and roots have been used for years in traditional Chinese medicine to help reduce symptoms associated with asthma, nausea, and inflammation. In the Philippines, Yam leaves are blended and used with baby food to provide an increased source of nutrients. The Aztec and Mayan cultures also used the roots and leaves both as a food source and pain reliever.
Yams are believed to have originated in Central and South America around 8,000 BCE and were then spread to China and Japan where they have been used medicinally for over 2,000 years. Today Yam leaves and roots are available in specialty markets in Central and South America, Asia, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and regions in Africa.
Recipes that include Yam Leaves. One is easiest, three is harder.
|80 Breakfasts||Ensaladang Talbos ng Kamote (Sweet Potato Leaves Salad)|
|Just. One. More. Bite.||Stir-fry yam leaves|
|The Bitten Word||SautÃ©ed Sweet Potato Greens|
|The Slow Cook||Curried Okra Stew With Sweet Potato Leaves And Coconut Milk|
People have shared Yam Leaves using the Specialty Produce app for iPhone and Android.
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