Are you thinking what I am thinking? I was thinking of Halloween, and then I ended up thinking of pumpkins, and then I ended up thinking, ‘Is pumpkin a fruit or a vegetable?’ Here is what I found out…
There are so many things around us that have always been there, we know that they exist and therefore we never actually give a serious thought on their details. An example for the same would be, thinking if pumpkin is a fruit or a vegetable? I mean, before buying a pumpkin do we ever consider the category in which it belongs? Though the classification of pumpkin, in terms of whether it is a fruit or a vegetable, won’t actually affect its usage, but then the human mind is always curious to classify things into categories for better understanding, right? So where does the place of the ‘pumpkin’ lie? Does it come under the category of a fruit, or is it a vegetable? Well, it is a fruit, but then you can also call it a vegetable if you don’t want to be all technical about it! Confused? Well, in order to clear the confusion, we will first have to understand what exactly is a fruit and what is the definition of a vegetable? So let us begin to understand that first.
What is a Fruit?
How would you define a fruit? I mean there would be some parameters that would give places to fruits like apples, oranges, pears etc., in this category, right? Well, if you look at the technical definition of a fruit, anything that has pulp, seeds and grows above the ground from a flowering plant, is known as a fruit. If we look at the way Wikipedia explains the term, it would be, “The term fruit has different meanings depending on context. In botany, a fruit is the ripened ovary – together with seeds – of a flowering plant. In many species, the fruit incorporates the ripened ovary and surrounding tissues. Fruits are the means by which flowering plants disseminate seeds.” So this means that anything that has seeds in it, is a fruit! Which means even cucumbers and tomatoes are fruits and not vegetables! Hmmm… interesting. Now let us see what exactly is a vegetable?
What is a Vegetable?
Well, till now I thought that cucumber was a vegetable, but I guess it’s not, if speaking technically! So now, how have the experts defined a vegetable? Let’s see…, as a noun, a vegetable is defined as the edible portion of a plant that is not a sweet fruit or a seed. The part of the plant including the stems, leaves, root, etc., which can be consumed is considered to be a vegetable. Wikipedia states, “Since ‘vegetable’ is not a botanical term, there is no contradiction in referring to a plant part as a fruit while also being considered a vegetable. Given this general rule of thumb, vegetables can include leaves (lettuce), stems (asparagus), roots (carrots), flowers (broccoli), bulbs (garlic), seeds (peas and beans) and of course, the botanical fruits like cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and capsicums.” This means that though pumpkin is considered as a botanical fruit, it can still be considered as a vegetable, because vegetable is not a botanical term. Hmmmm…!!!
So, Is Pumpkin a Fruit or a Vegetable?
“Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.” ~ Jim Davis
Well, Jim Davis surely categorized pumpkin as a vegetable! Why would he want to get into the technicality when the ultimate aim of a pumpkin is to eat it or use it to make a ‘Jack O’ lantern’ on Halloween! But after getting into the technicality, just to categorize pumpkin, like everything else, pumpkin is a fruit! Why, because it has seeds, pulp, and it grows on a flowering plant. However, in culinary terms it is mostly referred to as a vegetable.
So this was the result of my random pondering over the question, is pumpkin a fruit or a vegetable? The next time when someone comes up to you and asks this question, at least you would know the answer, right? This research actually gave me the answers to many other questions. Now I know that tomato, cucumber and all types of gourds are ‘technically’ fruits and not vegetables! Well, no matter whether pumpkin be a fruit or a vegetable, all I am concerned about is its nutritional value, the tasty pumpkin pie, and the “Jack O’ Lantern” on Halloween.