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Fruity Tomatoes?

When I was a child, I was surprised to find out that tomatoes were a fruit. In my mind, if you can sprinkle salt and pepper on it, it’s a vegetable. But, what does constitute a fruit or vegetable?  This question has two answers—scientific and culinary.
Fruit: Botanically, a fruit develops from a flower and contains the seeds. Fruits are the means by which flowering plants spread seeds. The word “vegetable” refers to all the other edible parts of the plant.
If it contains seeds, then it is a fruit.  Tomatoes (and peppers, eggplants, beans, cucumbers and squashes) are fruits. Some nuts are fruits (walnuts, hickory nuts, pecans) while some nuts are seeds (cashews, pistachios, pine nuts). And grains are the dried fruits of cereals grasses.
Culinarily, on the other hand, any edible plant part that is sweet is considered a fruit while any edible plant part that is savory is considered a vegetable. This can get tricky however. In Brazil, for example, the avocado is traditionally served with sugar as a dessert and is considered a fruit while elsewhere it is served in salads and as dips and is considered a vegetable. Botanically, it is a fruit, however.
Vegetables: The word ‘vegetable’ is not a botanical term and
therefore something can technically be a fruit while it is also considered a vegetable. So tomatoes, while botanically a fruit, are considered a vegetable, and so are cucumbers.
For most people ‘vegetable’ is simply a word for all the edible parts of a plant—leaves (lettuce, spinach, kale), stems (asparagus, celery, rhubarb), roots and/or tubers (carrots, beets, horseradish, potatoes), flowers (broccoli, cauliflower), bulbs (onions, garlic) and seeds (peas, beans, corn). 
For the average person, whether it’s a fruit or vegetable doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that we’re supposed to eat 7 to 9 servings everyday. So eat up those fruity tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
Posted: 5/27/2013 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: BonniePega, Bonnie'sGarden
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