Yams grown in New Zealand originate from the South American Andes where they are known as oca.
The sweet tubers are small, often about the size of a thumb, are pink-orange in colour and have a slightly shiny and ribbed surface. Other sweeter, slightly smaller varieties, coloured yellow, apricot and golden are available.
New Zealand yams are different from the tropical yams grown in other cultures. In America, and therefore in American recipe books, the vegetables known as ‘yams’ are in fact sweet potatoes similar to Beauregard kumara.
Available: June - October.
Vegetable is Available
Vegetable is Unavailable
- Available year round:
- Asian greens
- Chilli peppers
- Courgettes and Scallopini
- Kale and Cavolo Nero
- Potatoes, purple (taewa)
- Salad greens
- Spring onions
- Sprouted beans and seeds
- Fresh herbs, garnishes & flowers
Earth gems are known as ulluco in their native South America and have only been commercially available in New Zealand since 2003. The brightly coloured tubers range from yellow to magenta, pink, and even candy striped. They are very small in size, about 2-3 cm in diameter. Their waxy skins are shiny and colourful and is thin and soft and needs no peeling. The white to lemon-yellow flesh has a smooth, silky texture with a nutty taste, similar to beetroot.
Earth gems have a crisp texture, which remains even when cooked. They can be boiled, steamed, microwaved or baked. They hold their colour after cooking and look attractive on the plate.
What to look for
Firm yams with a bright colour and no blemishes.
Refrigerate in plastic bags.
|Unpeeled, boiled, drained|
|Serving size: 135g|
|Fat, total (g)||0.28||0.40%||0.21|
|- saturated (g)||0.042||0.20%||0.031|
|- sugars (g)||5.99||6.70%||4.44|
|Dietary fibre (g)||1.54||5%||1.14|
|Folate (µg)||58.52||29%||43.35||A good source of folate|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0.297||18.6% RDI*||0.22||A source of vitamin B6|
|Vitamin A Equiv. (µg)||117.03||15.6% RDI*||86.69||A source of vitamin A Equiv.|
|Potassium (mg)||487.71||361.27||Contains potassium|
|Riboflavin (mg)||0.162||9.5% RDI*||0.12|
|Thiamin (mg)||0.08||7.3% RDI*||0.06|
|Niacin (mg)||0.55||5.5% RDI*||0.41|
|Iron (mg)||0.45||3.8% RDI*||0.33|
|Zinc (mg)||0.297||2.4% RDI*||0.22|
|Vitamin C (mg)||0.84||2% RDI*||0.62|
|Calcium (mg)||4.74||0.6% RDI*||3.51|
|Vitamin E (mg)||0||0% RDI*||0|
|Selenium (µg)||0||0% RDI*||0|
Percentage Daily Intakes are based on an average adult diet of 8700 kJ
Source: The Concise New Zealand Food Composition Tables, 10th Edition, Plant & Food Research - 2014
Yams are one of the highest vegetable sources of carbohydrate and energy (kilojoules). They are also a source of vitamin A (from beta-carotene) and vitamin B6 plus contain potassium at levels of dietary significance. Their yellow orange coloured flesh indicates the presence of carotenoids (yellow orange coloured yams) and anthocyanins (red skins and specks in the flesh). While not as high as carrots, yams are a good source of beta-carotene.
How to prepare
Yams do not need to be peeled. Scrub if necessary and remove any blemishes.
Ways to eat
Yams are eaten cooked and in this form the carotenoids are more available. Boiling or steaming minimises their oxalate levels. Serve whole or mashed. Use sliced in stir fries. The natural sweetness of yams is enhanced with ginger, orange or sweet and sour sauces.
Bake, braise, boil, steam, microwave, roast, stir fry, stew.
June - October.
Pre-pack in plastic bags. Customers may not know how to use yams or earth gems, so use the QR code on labels.
Store at 0-2ºC with a relative humidity of 90-100%.
Purchase yams and earth gems with the New Zealand GAP logo.