Do you think you can easily tell a fruit from a vegetable? Think again, because sometimes scientific categories are different from the way we tend to classify plants.
There are many fruits people often mistake for vegetables and vice versa. So today we’ll talk about 5 vegetables that are sometimes difficult to categorize.
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Fruits Often Mistaken for Vegetables
Fruits we mistake for vegetables are definitely more common than the other way around. For example, those are:
- Green bean: even though most of us see it as a vegetable, a green bean is actually a fruit. Together with peas and similar plants, beans are a part of the legume family—they are seeds packed in pods which, from the biological perspective, makes them fruit.
- Eggplant: contrary to what we believe, eggplant is a fruit. It is a plant with white flesh and small seeds inside, which is why it doesn’t fit in the category of vegetables.
- Bell pepper: it may seem difficult to find a relation between fruits and bell peppers, but, botanically, that’s how we classify them. The color determines the level of sweetness bell peppers have.
- Cucumber: it is great for consumption, soothing sunburn, glowing skin, and many other things. But, biologically speaking, its seeds make it a fruit, not a vegetable.
- Tomato: from a culinary perspective, we are talking about a vegetable we use in salads and countless other meals. Still, botanically, it’s a fruit because of the seeds it bears inside.
Vegetables Mistaken For Fruits
Rhubarb is a cold-weather plant and an incredibly popular ingredient people mostly add to their desserts. Even though it’s a food that adds a quite specific fruity taste, rhubarb is actually a perennial vegetable.
In most cases, people cook it with a ton of sugar and treat it like it’s a fruit. They use a rhubarb compote to make delicious jam or tend to serve it as a surprising addition to roasted meats.
Whichever way you see it, just pay attention to which parts of rhubarb you’re going to eat. Stalks (or stems) are the only edible part.
Rhubarb leaves and roots, on the other hand, contain a substance that can be harmful to the kidneys, called oxalic acid.
Just like their sweet potato cousins, many people use yams to add that sweet fruity flavor to multiple different recipes. It is easy to mistake it for fruit, especially if you’re not familiar with which exact ingredients are inside the recipe.
However, yams go into the vegetable category, and more specifically, the tuber category. Both sweet potatoes and yams are in the group of flowering plants, also called angiosperms. Still, they are not related botanically.
Yams are in the category of monocots, which stands for plants with only one embryonic seed leaf. Also, they come from the Dioscoreaceae or Yam family.
Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, are a dicot, which is a plant with two embryonic seed leaves and they come from the Convolvulaceae, or the morning glory family.
Sure, grapes are officially fruits, there’s no doubt in that. However, some also consider the grape plant to be a vegetable since you can consume its leaves as well.
That way, even though grapes themselves are clearly fruits, grape plants are in the category of vegetables.
Grapes are generally a kind of berry and there are over 8,000 of its varieties that come from around 60 species. Still, the main types are European and American.
Grape seeds are edible and packed with antioxidants, substances that protect our body cells from damage free radicals cause. Free radicals are unstable molecules that form when our body breaks down food or is exposed to certain things from our polluted surroundings such as radiation or tobacco smoke.
Whether you place it in the category of fruits or vegetables, grapes should definitely be a part of your diet!
People mostly classify grains as fruits, since they come from flowers of a plant or seed. At the same time, corn is an exception and a pretty unique plant since it can be both a vegetable and a fruit.
If you enjoy it on a cob, you can consider it as a vegetable. On the other hand, we classify the individual corn kernels as grain—which would actually be the fruit of the corn plant.
Corn is a wild grass that came from Mexico. More than 10,000 years ago, people from southern parts of the country collected and ate a wild grass they called ‘teosinte’. That is a plant we today call ‘maize’, which stands for field corn.
Maize spread during long periods of migrations all over the southwest areas of the United States as well as south to Peru.
This one is a little bit tricky because pumpkins, squashes, pumpkins, and the rest of the Cucurbitaceae family are technically fruits. However, the reason we placed it on the list is that squash has many other parts that are edible as well.
For instance, many people tend to stuff and fry squash blossoms, which makes a wonderful and very delicious meal. With this in mind, we can classify squashes as both vegetables and fruits.
Either way, it’s a great addition to your diet.
Butternut squash, for instance, is one of the most common types of well-known winter squash. It is packed with vitamins, iron, calcium, potassium, and many other valuable nutrients.
Another type is a summer squash that consists of plants such as pattypan squash and zucchini.
Some Final Words
There are still many plants that are difficult to place in a strict category of fruit or vegetables.
Sometimes it can happen because of the way we use them (e.g. we treat tomato as a veggie, but it’s still a fruit), how they look (who would have thought green peas are fruits?), or how they taste (no one would say yams are vegetables according to their fruity flavor).
Some we mistake for the opposite category and some simply fall into both groups.