- How produce is categorized changes between botanists and consumers.
- Fruit and vegetables can often be mislabeled.
- INSIDER found out which produce we call fruit are really vegetables, and which vegetables are really fruit.
How produce is categorized differs between botanists and consumers, which is why some common fruits and vegetables are often mislabeled. From a botanical standpoint, “fruit” refers to anything that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant, while “vegetable” in turn applies to all other parts of a plant.
INSIDER learned about 10 things we call fruit that are technically veggies – and vice versa.
Rhubarb tastes fruity but is a perennial vegetable.
Known for its fruity taste, rhubarb is a popular dessert ingredient. In fact, its usage in sweet dishes such as rhubarb pie prompted a 1947 court case in which it was ruled that rhubarb counts as a fruit.
Despite what the legal system might say, it is, in fact, a perennial vegetable. Only the plant’s stems, or stalks, are edible. Its roots and leaves contain oxalic acid, a substance that is toxic to the kidneys.
Parts of the grapevine plant are eaten as a leafy vegetable.
There’s no debate about whether grapes count as a fruit. However, parts of the grapevine plant can be eaten as a leafy vegetable. In some culinary traditions, such as Greek and Persian, grape leaves stuffed with seasoned rice, and/or meat, are a popular dish.
Avocados are giant berries.
There’s no ignoring the cultural sway of the avocado – but you might be surprised to learn that it’s actually a fruit. To be precise, it’s a single-seeded, oversized berry.
Although they’re technically a fruit, tomatoes have been legally defined as vegetables in the US.
How the tomato, the state vegetable of New Jersey, should be classified has been contested since the 19th century. In 1893, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Nix v. Hedden, a case that concerned a trade tariff on vegetables, that it should be considered a veggie.
Since they contain seeds, tomatoes are technically fruit in the botanical sense.
Green beans are not vegetables since they contain seeds.
From restaurants to holiday gatherings, green beans are one of the most ubiquitous vegetables out there. Except they’re not really vegetables.
“Fruits are structures that contain seeds,” Toby Adams, director of the Edible Academy at the New York Botanical Garden, said in an interview. “And a green bean is, basically, a pod that has seeds inside of it.”
Corn could be considered a fruit and a vegetable.
Various grains are classified as fruits because they originate from a plant’s seed or flower. Corn can be considered a vegetable if it’s enjoyed on the cob. However, the individual kernels are viewed as grains.
Watermelon is the state vegetable of Oklahoma.
Like gourds, including squash, and cucumbers, watermelon – which is actually the state vegetable of Oklahoma – belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. This refreshing melon is even grown using vegetable production systems.
Eggplants are botanically classified as berries.
Thanks to their tiny, edible seeds, eggplants are botanically classified as berries. As with tomatoes and potatoes, they belong to the nightshade family.
Okra is eaten fried or in gumbo, but it’s actually a fruit.
Okra, a staple of Southern cuisine, appears to be a vegetable at first glance. However, the plant’s pods, the part that you eat, contain seeds, making it a plant.
They may be savoury, but olives are fruit.
Olives are a savoury addition to pizzas and salads, but they’re actually a fruit. Not only are they formed from the ovary of a flower – their pits make them seed-bearing.
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