You may be aware of foods and good at cooking but there are certain food pairs that are often mistaken for each other. Scroll through to clear the confusion around items - like yams and sweet potatoes - that appear similar but are very different.
Yams and sweet potatoes
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Although sweet potatoes (R) are labelled as yams in many supermarkets, and look similar, they have certain differences. Yams have black or brown skin that is rough, are cylindrical in shape, with its flesh either white, purple or reddish in color. They are produced mainly in Africa and Asia and not available in the average grocery store. With tapered ends and elongated shapes, firm sweet potatoes usually have golden skin and pale flesh, while their softer versions have copper skin and orange flesh. Both are root vegetables but belong to different families.
Ragout and ragù
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The two dishes have nothing in common except for a similar sounding pronunciation. While ragout (L) is a French dish consisting of meat pieces stewed with vegetables, ragù is an Italian meat-based sauce created by Alberto Alvisi in the 18th century. It is usually served with pasta.
Shrimp and prawns
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The two crustaceans are distinct in their anatomy. Prawns (R) are bigger and lack the characteristic curve of shrimp. Shrimp have claws on two of their five pairs of legs and plate-like gills, prawns have three sets of claws and branching gills.
Ice cream and gelato
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Gelato (R), an Italian dessert, is a mix of custard, cream and milk made through slow churning. Generally lower in fat, gelato mostly contains no eggs. It is denser and creamier and served at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream.
Green beans and haricots verts
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While all kinds of beans that are green in color fall under the "green beans" category, haricots verts (R) are French beans and different from the usual ones because they are a thinner, tender and shorter, and therefore, quicker to prepare.
Macaroons and macarons
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Both macarons and macaroons are cookie types but different from each other. While a macaroon (L) is coconut based, macaron is meringue based. Macaroons are quicker to make, have a chewy texture and usually come in flavors of almond and chocolate. Macaron is a French sandwich cookie that can come in a variety of colors and comprise two meringue layers with flavored creme in the middle.
Jam and jelly
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Jam (L) and jelly have fruits as their main ingredients, but the difference lies in the form they take. While jam is prepared with crushed fruit or pulp, jelly is mainly prepared with fruit juice. Jellies have a thicker consistency than jams to make the latter spread easily on toasts, etc.
Butter, margarine and ghee
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The three appear similar but are different in compositions. Butter (C) is usually made from cow's milk, with salt and flavorings added to it. When butter is rendered and water and milk solids removed, the result is clarified butter or ghee (R). It is higher in fat content but reportedly more tolerable for people sensitive to dairy. Meanwhile, margarine (L) is processed from vegetable oils. While ghee usually has a distinctive flavor, margarine and butter taste similar.
Pasta and noodles
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Pasta can take a variety of shapes and types such as penne, macaroni or fettuccine. However, when pasta takes the form of spaghetti (L), it is most often confused with noodles. Pasta is made from durum semolina wheat flour and is harder, while noodles can be made from a range of flours and are usually thinner and longer.
Nectarines and peaches
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The nearly identical summer fruits are different in size, texture and taste. Peaches (R) have fuzzy skin and are a little bigger than nectarines, which have smooth skin and are firmer. Nectarines are also less likely to bruise or puncture.
Raw sugar and brown sugar
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When sugarcane is refined and treated it takes the form of raw sugar (L) that is golden brown in color. The raw sugar is rid of the natural molasses, resulting in white sugar that we consume. To make brown sugar (R), the extracted molasses is added back to the white sugar. Simply put, brown sugar is enhanced white sugar and raw sugar is a slightly less processed version.
Bananas and plantains
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Members of the same family, they look similar but are very different in taste. While bananas (L) are eaten raw for their sweet taste, plantains are starchy like potatoes. They are mashed, sliced and roasted, or sweetened and fried for consumption.