Is a Tomato a Fruit or a Vegetable?
To really figure out if a tomato is a fruit or a 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, (botanically) you have a FRUIT. This, of course, makes your tomato a fruit. It also makes cucumbers, squash, green beans and walnuts all fruit as well. Along with the fruit from a plant or tree, we can often eat the leaves (lettuce), stems (celery), roots (carrots), and flowers (broccoli). Many of these other parts of the plant are typically referred to as vegetables. Now don’t go looking for tomatoes next to the oranges in your grocery stores; fruits like tomatoes and green beans are usually (alas, incorrectly) referred to as “vegetables” in most grocery stores and cookbooks.
Examples of different parts of plants used as vegetables
The list of food items called “vegetable” is quite long, and includes many different parts of plants:
• Flower bud: broccoli, cauliflower, globe artichokes
• Seeds: Sweet corn (maize), peas, beans, popcorn, corn
• Leaves: Kale, collard greens, spinach, beet greens, turnip greens, endive, lettuce, tomato
• Leaf sheaths: Leeks
• Buds: Brussels sprouts, capers
• Stem: Kohlrabi
• Stems of leaves: celery, rhubarb, cardoon
• Stem shoots: asparagus, bamboo shoots, and ginger
• Tubers: potatoes, Jerusalem Artichokes, sweet potatoes, and yams
• Whole-plant Sprouts: soybean (moyashi), mung beans, urad, and alfalfa.
• Roots: carrots, parsnips, beets, radishes, rutabagas, turnips, and burdocks.
• Bulbs: onions, shallots, garlic
• Fruits in the botanical sense, but used as vegetables: tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, zucchinis, pumpkins, peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, christophene, okra, breadfruit and avocado.
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Contact Denny McKeown, owner of Bloomin Garden Centre in Blue Ash, at www.bloomingarden.com