Sweet potatoes generally share the same cylindrical shape with tapered ends, but they can vary in size. The relatively smooth skin can range in color from white to golden-brown or copper-red to purple, and the dense flesh can be firm or soft, varying from white to yellow or orange, or even mauve to deep magenta-purple. In general, varieties with white flesh have a firmer and drier texture, while orange-fleshed varieties are soft and moist. Sweet potatoes offer a sugary-sweet flavor with earthy undertones and hints of nuttiness, with some varieties being sweeter than others.
Sweet potatoes can be used in both savory and sweet applications. They are served as a cooked vegetable in whole or mashed form, and can be baked, roasted, steamed, boiled, simmered, or fried. Sweet potato can be thinly sliced and saut?ed for use in casseroles, ratatouille, or lasagna, cubed and simmered in soup, chili, or coconut curries, or cut into wedges and fried, served with your favorite dipping sauce. Soft and sugary orange-fleshed varieties are even used in bread and cake recipes, or as pie filling, pairing well with spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice, and the sweet flavors of maple syrup or brown sugar.
Sweet potato is popularly used for an American Thanksgiving side dish that is often misleadingly called ?candied yams?, a mashed sweet potato and marshmallow casserole. Sweet potatoes should not be refrigerated, but rather stored loose in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.