Is the Tomato a Vegetable or a Fruit? The Great Tomato Debate
Food and Drink

Is the Tomato a Vegetable or a Fruit? The Great Tomato Debate

Author: MozaicNook

Oh the tomato! It is the center piece in summer salads, the heart and soul of our favorite pastas sauces and the juicy jewel of gardens. But then comes its classification; Is it a vegetable or fruit? This simple question has led to debates at dinner tables, lecture rooms as well as within courtrooms. So let's get juicy details and answer that once and for all; Is tomato vegetable or fruit?

The botanical verdict: Fruit

Let's ask them from our friends from the plant kingdom. Botanically speaking , fruits are ripe ovaries which develop from flowers that usually bear seeds . Therefore it is clear that tomatoes meet this definition .They come from fertilized ovary of flower plants containing their seeds .So botanically speaking “Is the tomato a vegetable or a fruit?” There’s only one answer- it is a fruit!

The culinary view: Vegetable

But hold on before you put your tomato into your fruit salad just yet because culinarily, they fall under vegetables. This means that they tend to appear along side cucumbers, peppers ,and lettuce in most recipes since they would rather be eaten in savory dishes than sweet ones. Also due to flavor profile as well as culinary uses chefs globally refer to tomatoes as vegetables.

The legal verdict: A bit of both

To complicate matters further let us consider an historic court case which involved law. In 1893 there was a legal question before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding whether tomatoes were fruits or vegetables. The debate was however not an academic exercise but a tax problem. At that time, imported duties were applied to only vegetables while fruit had none. In Nix v Hedden , the court ruled that the marketing of tomatoes as vegetables by their everyday use was more appropriate. Therefore within United States law at least, the tomato is a vegetable.

The nutritional aspect

Nutritionally, tomatoes are best of both worlds .They are low in calories and packed with vitamins (especially vitamin C and A) as well as antioxidants like lycopene which has been linked to multiple health benefits . Whether you prefer to call them fruits or vegetables, there’s no doubt that they make a healthy addition to your diet.

The final word: it depends!

So, which is it; vegetable or fruit? It all depends on who you ask. To botanists it remains a fruit. To chefs they still regard it as a vegetable.

However legally US Supreme court calls tomato a vegetable (at least for tariff purposes).

Therefore can we say that the tomato is either a fruit or vegetable because of its versatility and tastiness? Tomatoes fall under two categories: one cannot easily classify them as fruits or vegetables since they are such versatile things in kitchens; they go into anything from strong dishes to salads.

Some amazing things about tomatoes

The tomato capital: Have you ever heard of the La Tomatina festival held annually in Buñol, Spain? The largest food fight on earth that is all about tomato!

A tomato by any other name: At one time in some parts of the world, tomatoes were known as “love apples.” Isn’t that sweet?

World records: The heaviest ever recorded weight for a tomato was 4.896 kg (10 pounds 12.7 ounces).

This fruit or vegetable thing is really not important to call it tomato. These are loved in various cuisines because they are protean, tasty and good for one’s health. So whenever you eat a piece of tomato sandwich or take a little bit of soup with tomatoes, be aware of the long story and dispute around this unremarkable but amazing plant.

So, do you think tomatoes are vegetables or fruits? Yes! It can be both which is what makes it unique.