Most of the time, telling the difference between fruit and veg feels fairly straightforward. After all, there’s no doubting that apples and oranges are in a different ball park to carrots and cabbages. But when you delve into the nitty gritty, you discover that there is a produce grey area that’s far larger than you might have expected. Telling the difference between fruit and veg is actually anything but simple.
Apparently determined to undermine all our instincts when it comes to fruit and veg categorisation, some plants seem to have been designed specifically to confuse us. These greens might look and taste exactly like a stereotypical vegetable, but are in fact fruits hiding in plain sight. No wonder we’re all so confused. Here are eight fruits that everyone thinks are vegetables.
It’s impossible to ignore the tomato in the eternal fruit or vegetable debate. Despite being a fruit, tomatoes are still seen by many a key member of the vegetable family. In fact, contention over the tomato’s identity became so heated in the 19th century, that it took an 1894 Supreme Court ruling to try and settle the issue. They promptly declared them a vegetable, making everyone even more confused.
It’s purple, savoury and distinctly veggie-looking, but aubergines are, shocking as it may seem, a fruit. The key is that aubergines, along with everything else on this list, contain seeds - which places them alongside the apples and pears of the world. Just don’t try and include them in your next fruit salad.
Another example of flavour fooling us into believing that a food is something it is not, peppers are one of the least fruity fruits out there. Savoury and crunchy, they may lack the pulp of conventional fruit, but they apparently belong in the same bowl.
Unlike their salad partner-in-chief the tomato, cucumbers are doing a really great of continuing to masquerade as something they’re not. Their seeds may not be as obvious as some on this list, but as anyone who’s ever dug them out with a spoon will attest, they are definitely still there.
Even if you think of them as a veggie, the way we treat pumpkins is unconventional by any measure. In a way, the fact that they end up in coffee and on pies should alert more people to their fruity ancestry.
Olives are one of those fruits that really don’t fall into any category. It’s savoury, so could be called a vegetable, but it’s also so small that you might mistake it for a berry. As ever, however, the pips don’t lie - they’re just as much of fruit as anything else on this list.
7. Butternut Squash
It grows on the ground, is big, tough, and basically inedible when raw, but butternut squash is still a fruit. One thing is clear, with squash and pumpkins on this list, your fruit bowl is going to have to get bigger.
8. Pea Pods
In a recent survey, only 1% of people were able to correctly categorise pea pods as fruit, which is hardly surprising. What makes the pods a fruit is the peas themselves, which are technically the seeds of the plant.
Even if some of these entries seem completely unbelievable, there’s not getting away from the fact that the fruit family has a few surprising members. If you’re ever in doubt, just remember to look out for the seeds. If they’re there, no matter how veggie it may look, you’re dealing with a fruit.