Yams and sweet potatoes are often prepared and eaten as if they were the same vegetable. Actually, they are totally different foods. Yams are tubers which come from tropical climates and are shipped to the United States. According to "Nutrition Concepts and Controversies," "The orange-fleshed sweet potato called 'yam' in the United States is one of the richest beta-carotene sources known." Not only do they taste good, they are good for you. Baking yams in their whole form takes about an hour, but for cooks in a hurry, simple steps reduce baking time.
Scrub the yams, remove any "eyes" and pierce the skins with a fork if you plan to bake them whole. Otherwise, scrub them and slice according to your recipe.
The Quickest Baking Method
The quickest way to cook yams is to pierce the skins with a fork, pop them into a microwave oven and bake for a few minutes until the yam easily "gives" when you squeeze it. The length of cooking time depends on the power of the microwave oven and the size of the yam, but is usually between five and eight minutes for each yam. When it is done, slit it open, add cinnamon sugar and butter or other toppings, and place back into the microwave for a few seconds, remove, then enjoy. Try eating yams with skin intact, without the addition of high calorie sugars and fats.
Fast Oven Baking
Natural Lifestyle.com shares a quick baking recipe from Organic Living Magazine for yams that takes about 40 minutes. Slices of yams are covered with a liquid made of brown rice syrup, mellow white miso and apple juice. After covering and baking in a 400-degree oven for 10 minutes, the temperature is then reduced to 350 degrees for another 20 minutes until yams are fork-tender.
More Fast-Baking Ideas
A recipe from Chef2Chef.com suggests parboiling 3 lbs. of whole yams for 20 minutes, cool until you can handle them, then pare and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Alternate layers in a buttered baking dish with 4 lbs. of sliced tart Granny Smith apples topped with 2 tbsp. each butter and brown sugar. Bake covered for 20 minutes, remove the cover and continue for another 20 minutes until yams are thoroughly cooked. Spices may be added as desired. Toasted pecans sprinkled on top after baking add a crunchy garnish to the dish.