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close this bookBetter Farming Series 16 - Roots and Tubers (FAO - INADES, 1977, 58 p.)
close this folderYams
close this folderThe use of yams in food
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View the documentFresh and mashed yams
View the documentDried yams and yam flour


Yams are the staple food of many peoples of Africa.

Yams are eaten fresh, or are treated and preserved.

Most varieties of yams, especially the wild species that are not cultivated, contain a poison (dioscorine). But this poison is removed by washing the yams several times in salt water and by cooking them well.

This is why yams must never be eaten raw, but only when they are thoroughly cooked.

Fresh and mashed yams

When yams are eaten fresh, either boiled or fried, peel them first, cut the tubers into pieces and wash them carefully. The boiled yams are pounded to make mashed yams.

Dried yams and yam flour

The fresh tubers are peeled, sliced, and dried in the sun.

Sometimes yams are steamed before being dried in the sun. And sometimes after a meal, the remains of foutou (mashed fresh yams) are carefully gathered up and made into little balls which are then dried in the sun.

Like cassava, the slices or yam and the balls of foutou can be kept for a long time once they have been well dried.

To make flour, the slices or the little balls are pounded in a mortar, or ground in a mill. The flour thus produced is used to make a dough.