|The simple tomato. Is it a fruit or a vegetable?|
|A squash flower from our garden.|
A squash will grow here - a good indication that it is a fruit
Even nuts are dry, single seeded fruits. Well, ok, some nuts are two seeded, however, and in botanical terms really only fruit in the order Fagales are true nuts. In culinary terms, however, the term nut applies to any large, oily kernel found in a shell. This allows us to call peanuts, nuts, even though they really are botanically fruits and in culinary terms, vegetables. Anyone confused yet?
As a side note from the "some things are hard to categorize" department, a few years back Monika and I saw the Coco de Mer trees on the island of Praslin in the Seychelles. It is the largest seed in the plant kingdom with a single seed growing to 40-50 cm in diameter and 15-30 kg. The largest one on record weighed 42kg. You don't want to be under these "fruit" when they fall. So here is a "nut" that is much bigger than most vegetables. Go figure. The Coco de Mer looks sort of like a giant, two lobed coconut; which reminds me, a coconut is botanically a drupe, NOT a nut. I'm starting to get the feeling that this isn't going to be so easy to clear up...
|A haul of tomatoes from the Digital Diner garden|
OK, then what is a vegetable? Well here is where the real problem arises. A vegetable is an edible plant or part of a plant but not seeds and most fruit. Do you see the problem here? A vegetable is any part of a plant you eat as long as we don't consider it a fruit. This is just the kind of opening that allows the legal system to step in a make a judgement as to what is legally a vegetable. Of course, it can still get even more complicated. Think about mushrooms. No they aren't fruit. They aren't even plants. They are fungi. Still many people consider them vegetables. Oy! Wikipedia sums it up with this:
There are at least four definitions relating to fruits and vegetables:
- Fruit (botany): the ovary of a flowering plant (sometimes including accessory structures),
- Fruit (culinary): any edible part of a plant with a sweet flavor,
- Vegetable (culinary): any edible part of a plant with a savory flavor.
- Vegetable (legal): commodities that are taxed as vegetables in a particular jurisdiction
Now go eat your vegetables!
|We grow lots of heirloom tomatoes at Digital Diner. |
We expect this year's crop to start appearing in another month or two.
|This year we had a bumper crop of plums, |
so we should be able to make it through the winter on our plum jam.
|A bucket of lingonberries we picked in Sweden|