Is it a fruit or vegetable? Pumpkin, fruit or vegetable? Tomato, fruit or vegetable? To determine the difference between fruit
and vegetable (which has troubled minds since there were such terms as
vegetable and fruit,) let’s examine what makes a fruit a fruit and what
makes a vegetable a vegetable.
“The term fruit has different meanings depending on context. In botany, a fruit is the ripened ovary—together with seeds—of a flowering
plant. In many species, the fruit incorporates the ripened ovary and
surrounding tissues. Fruits are the means by which flowering plants
disseminate seeds. In cuisine, when discussing fruit as food, the term
usually refers to just those plant fruits that are sweet and fleshy,
examples of which include plum, apple and orange. However, a great many
common vegetables, as well as nuts and grains, are the fruit of the
plant species they come from. No one terminology really fits the
enormous variety that is found among plant fruits. Botanical terminology
for fruits is inexact and will remain so.” (Wikipedia.org)
Are we clear now? Or are you just more confused? Don’t feel bad; many others are confused too. Here is what Science Bob has to say about this question: Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?
Answer: “To really figure out if a tomato is a fruit or vegetable, you need to know what makes a fruit a fruit, and a vegetable a vegetable. The big question to ask is, DOES IT HAVE SEEDS?
If the answer is yes, then technically, you have a FRUIT. This, of course, makes your tomato a fruit. It also makes cucumbers, squash,
green beans and walnuts all fruits as well. VEGETABLES such as,
radishes, celery, carrots, and lettuce do NOT have seeds (that are part
of what we eat) and so they are grouped as vegetables.”
By these definitions, a pumpkin is a fruit, botanically speaking. So are squash and zucchini.
“Vegetable is a culinary term. Its definition has no scientific value and is somewhat arbitrary and subjective. All parts of herbaceous
plants eaten as food by humans, whole or in part, are generally
considered vegetables. Mushrooms, though belonging to the biological
kingdom, fungi, are also commonly considered vegetables…Since
‘vegetable’ is not a botanical term, there is no contradiction in
referring to a plant part as a fruit while also being considered a
vegetable. Given this general rule of thumb, vegetables can include
leaves (lettuce), stems (asparagus), roots (carrots), flowers
(broccoli), bulbs (garlic), seeds (peas and beans) and of course the
botanical fruits like cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and capsicums.”
If you are speaking in a botanical, scientific context, then pumpkin, tomato, capsicum, cucumber, tomato and squash are FRUITS because they
all have seeds. If you are speaking in culinary terms, they can all be
properly called VEGETABLES.
Case solved, right? Not quite. The United States Supreme Court entered into this fascinating debate and gave a legal verdict on whether
a tomato should be classified as a vegetable or a fruit. They decided
unanimously, in Nix versus Hedden, 1883, that a tomato is a
vegetable, even though it is a botanical fruit.
So, there you have the difference between fruit and vegetable and an amazing nutrition fact. A tomato is a fruit AND a vegetable. A pumpkin
is a fruit AND a vegetable. The age-old question of "Is it a fruit or
vegetable?" has been resolved.