#NoStupidQuestion: Is Pickle A Fruit? 5 Facts About Fruits You Must Know

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‘Is pickle a fruit or a vegetable?’

Posted by user “scarletjohamster” on Reddit around 5 years ago, the thread has gained 9.8k comments, 85% upvotes, and of course, so much confusion. So, if you ever find yourself wondering the same thing, you are not alone. Yes, there are more things we should care about. But even the age-old conundrum “War—what is it good for?” was solved by Edwin Starr, a mere one-hit-wonder. Meanwhile, the status of the pickle continues to baffle great minds. 

Since the International Pickle Week is coming on May 16, there is no better time to delve deep into the world of pickles and discover some truth that will… errr, tickle you. In order to know if a pickle is a fruit or not, though, we must first establish what a pickle even is.  

What Is A Pickle? Is A Pickle A Fruit Or A Vegetable?

The term “pickle” itself is already confusing, that’s part of what makes ‘Is a pickle a fruit?’ a complicated question. If you travel to different countries in the world asking for pickles, you will be given various things. For instance, in the United Kingdom, what you get is a minuscule white onion in vinegar. In Korea, you are likely to get Kimchi – a traditional side dish of salted and fermented vegetables, such as napa cabbage and Korean radish. Pickles in other countries include beetroot and even boiled eggs. Here in the US, you will be handed a small green cucumber in vinegar. 

At that point, you probably can tell: Pickle is not a specific fruit or vegetable, but the process of submerging fruits and vegetables in saltwater or vinegar, preserving them via anaerobic (oxygen-free) fermentation.

Typically, fruits or vegetables will absorb the vinegar or brine, creating a pH level of less than 4.6. That makes it acidic enough to kill a lot of bacteria, but tasty enough to eat in daily meals.

According to many sources, pickling came from Mesopotamia around 2400 B.C.E. That makes it one of the first and most ancient methods of food preservation. In American history, it is not an exaggeration to say that the pickle was a life savior. Before air travel was possible and refrigerators were invented, we all had to travel by boat. As a result, there weren’t many options to keep the foods fresh for extended voyages. And what would happen when you combine an extended journey at sea with no access to fresh produce? You get scurvy.

With the help of pickle – a humble, ordinary dish, vitamin C deficiency could be held at bay. For that reason, sailors stocked their ships with huge barrels of pickles to keep the crew happy, healthy, and free of scurvy. 

For Americans, “Pickles” Often Refers To Fermented Cucumbers – Source: Mental Floss

Nowadays, pickles are well-loved as a staple of delis, barbecues, and burger joints across the country. Although you can pickle literally any fruit or vegetable, when Americans talk about pickles, the first thing that comes to our mind is pickled cucumber. So by asking ‘Is a pickle a fruit?’, we are also asking if a cucumber is a fruit or vegetable. 

So, Is Cucumber A Fruit Or A Vegetable?

Tricky, isn’t it? Well, that’s why this deserves to be a topic of a seminar. Still, there are several ways to analyze the problem. By the end of this post, whether or not cucumber is a fruit or something else will blow your mind. Stick with us, because I bet your friend won’t know this! 

Fruit VS. Vegetable

From a botanical perspective, a ‘fruit’ is the seed-bearing product that grows from the ovary of a flowering plant. In other words, a fruit is a plant’s way of spreading its seeds. A botanical fruit would have at least one seed and grow from the flower of the plant. While we often think that fruit is a combination of seed and an edible part of the plant, not all fruits are edible. Consider the sheer number of flowering plants out there that bear seeds in this way – not all of them are safe for eating!

According to this definition, beans can also be considered a fruit. Surprise? They are pods that contain seeds and are grown as flowering plants, so you can refer to them as fruit just like apple, pear, or peach. 

What’s the botanical definition of a vegetable, then? It’s any part of a plant human can consume, such as flowers, leaves, roots, seeds, stems, and fruit. Yup, you are not reading it wrong – fruit. 

The Difference Between Fruit And Vegetables

The outlook is quite different in culinary terms, however. Culinary speaking, a “vegetable” usually has a tougher texture, tastes blander, and is often seen in savory dishes. A ‘fruit’, however, has a soft texture, tends to be either sweet or tart, and is often enjoyed raw or in desserts or jams. That’s why many foods are (botanically speaking) fruits, but since they are often seen in savory dishes instead of sweet ones, they are typically considered vegetables by chefs. 

Is Cucumber A Fruit Or Vegetable? 

From A Botanical Point Of View, A Cucumber Is Fruit – Source: Times Of India

By now, you probably get the answer: With the botanical definition in mind, cucumbers are classified as fruit because they contain tiny seeds in the middle and grow from the flower of the cucumber plant.

A chef, nutritionist, or even your mom would use the culinary classification system, which distinguishes fruit and vegetables in a different manner based on the way they are cooked and their flavor profiles. Cucumbers can be crunchy and refreshing, which makes them a great snack when enjoyed raw. Yet, we also prepare cucumbers in savory dishes like pickling, which is why we usually classify cucumbers as vegetables.

5 Interesting Facts About Fruits And Vegetables For You To Savor

Is Tomatoes A Fruit?  

Can You Guess What Tomatoes Are? – Source: Armstrong Garden Center

Tomatoes, which hail from the Solanaceae family, are probably the best-known example of fruit often referred to as a veggie. But, just like cucumbers, they are only considered fruit if you are asking a botanist. Most of us will look at tomatoes from the culinary perspective and treat them as vegetables since they are frequently used in savory dishes. It’s that logic that prompted the Supreme Court to declare in 1893 that tomatoes should be taxed like other vegetables. 

“Botanically speaking, tomatoes are the fruit of a vine, just as are cucumbers, squashes, beans, and peas,” Justice Horace Gray wrote in the court’s opinion. “But in the common language of the people… all these are vegetables which are grown in kitchen gardens, and which, whether eaten cooked or raw, are, like potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, and lettuce, usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish, or meats which constitute the principal part of the repast, and not, like fruits generally, as dessert.” That’s how American tomatoes are legally vegetables.

Is Jalapeno A Fruit? 

What do jalapeno, pimento, shishito, bell, and poblano have in common? They are all different types of peppers! Some tickle your taste buds with sweetness, others put your mouth on fire. But have you ever wondered if peppers are fruit or veggies? 

From a botanist’s point of view, peppers are classified as fruit because they contain tiny seeds in the middle and grow from the flower of the pepper plant. As you already know, though,  it is frequently used as a spicy condiment to most dishes. So while being a fruit, for chefs, nutritionists, and home cooks, it belongs to the ‘vegetable’ category in culinary. 

In addition, there are some fun facts about jalapeno for spicy lovers here: It was the first peppers that traveled into space on a NASA shuttle! In 1982, the Space Shuttle Columbia was launched on NASA’s fifth space shuttle mission called STS-5. It was a five-day flight that departed on November 11 and landed on November 16. 

Did You Know That Jalapeno Was The First Pepper On Space? – Source: Allrecipes

Astronaut Sherwood “Woody” Spring grew jalapenos in his backyard. He was not going to be on this mission, but he gave his friend and fellow astronaut William B. Lenoir who was boarding the shuttle some of his freshly picked jalapeno peppers.

So there they were, those jalapeno peppers flying into outer space with the other astronauts, probably not knowing they were the first peppers in space. Other peppers must be quite jealous, eh? 

So Is Carrot Fruit Or Vegetable?  

With tomatoes, cucumber, and jalapeno being fruit, you now know that there is more fruit hiding in plain sight. So, can you guess what carrot is? Well, it’s actually… vegetable by any definition! 

More precisely, it’s a root vegetable. Although people typically discard most roots and eat the part of the plant that grows above ground, root vegetables like beetroots, parsnips, and celeriac make some exceptions. Here, we eat the edible and fleshy roots. The stems and leaves aren’t edible. In other words, what we consume are the roots of carrot plants. 

Carrots Are, In Fact, The Roots Of The Carrot Plants – Source: Better Homes And Garden

Did you know that, in addition to orange, carrots can also be purple, red, white, and yellow? In history, most cultivated carrots had a deep, black-purple color. It wasn’t until the 16th century did Dutch growers developed the sweet, plump orange carrots. 

Nowadays, you can find many colors of this veggie, such as purple, red, yellow, and white. Each of them has a different taste:  Yellow carrots have an earthy-sweet flavor with notes of celery and parsley, and white carrots are relatively mild. Purple carrots can have a peppery flavor but can also be very sweet.

What About Onion? 

Almost everyone uses some type of onion in their daily food recipes, yet we have never asked ourselves: Is onion fruit or vegetable? It doesn’t contain any seed, so just like carrots, onions are a type of veggie by all means. 

But as we already know, a vegetable is the edible portion of a plant including fruit. Let’s get more specific here: If it’s not a fruit, then what portion onion is exactly? Perhaps it’s a root or a bulb? 

Regarding this, I found an interesting answer from Abhishek Mishra on Quora. Basically, Abhishek explained that onions are made up of stem and scale leaves. The stem of onion is discoid (disc-shaped) and it is an underground alteration of the stem which falls under the classification of a bulb.

This answer confirms the fact that the fleshy edible part of an onion that grows in the ground is a bulb. That was a great explanation of our familiar plant’s structure. 

Is Onion A Fruit Or Vegetable?

Strawberries Are Not What They Seem

If a guy comes to you and asks, ‘Is strawberry a fruit or vegetable?’, you probably would laugh at him. Well, the sweet, bright-red summer fruit you love so much is undeniably a fruit. But if someone questions the real status of strawberries, he has a point. They are not actually berries, and you will be shocked by some of the other foods that are technically berries.

These Juicy “Berries” Are Not Actually Berries! – Source: Yates

A true berry is a fleshy fruit that develops from the ovary of a single flower with a seed (or seeds) embedded on the inside of the flesh. In other words, the fruit must contain seeds on the inside. Just by looking at a strawberry, you can tell that its seeds are studded all around the outside of the fruit. That said, from a botanical perspective, strawberries do not fit the definition of a berry. 

A few surprising “berries” are banana, pumpkin, avocado, and, guess what? Tomato! For some of these fruits, particularly bananas, their seeds are so tiny we don’t even notice that they’re actually there.

“Berry” or not, I think we can all agree on one thing: Perfectly ripe strawberries are truly amazing gems of summer.

Wrapping Up: Is A Pickle A Fruit? 

What I just revealed might make you feel like the rug is getting pulled out from under your feet, like everything you’ve known to be good and true in the world is a complete lie. But hey, now you are smarter than most people out there who can’t tell fruit apart from vegetables! 

Next time someone brings up the question ‘Is a pickle a fruit?’, you can proudly tell them the answer. And if your kid says “I don’t like vegetables”? Just let him know that carrots are roots, tomatoes are fruits, cauliflowers are flowers, and onions are just bulbs!  

Do you want to check out the latest food-related content, such as “What Does Tofu Taste Like?” or “How To Tell If Steak Is Bad”? Head to our Homepage for more! 

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