In the world of plants and fruits, some vegetables and fruits just aren’t what they appear to be! It’s common to get confused with definitions or to think of some fruits as vegetables and vice-versa. You’re not alone, we’ve all been there.
Let’s first clarify what a fruit actually is. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, “Any thing that grows on a plant and is the means by which that plant gets its seeds out into the world is a fruit.” Basically, that means that if it has seeds inside, it’s probably a fruit.
On the other hand, a vegetable is any part of a plant that can be eaten, that includes roots, stems, flowers, etc.
The most famous example is the tomato. A lot of people live life thinking that tomatoes are vegetables, only to find out that they’re actually fruits! You’ll be surprised to know about the numerous misconceptions and fun facts surrounding the world of fruits. Here are 6 fruits that aren’t as they appear!
1. Rhubarb Isn’t A Fruit
No, your delicious and tasty Rhubarb pie wasn’t made with a fruit, it’s actually a perennial vegetable.
The confusion may arise because of its “fruity” and sweet flavour. But since you can only eat the plant’s stems, that means it’s a vegetable. In fact, both the flowers and the roots from this plant are toxic because they contain oxalic acid, a substance that can harm human kidneys.
We could get the legal system involved in this, like they did in the 1947 court case. Those people took this subject matter to heart. In that case, it was determined that Rhubarb is a fruit. But putting the legal system aside, it’s technically a vegetable.
Who’s to say who’s right and wrong? I think we can all agree that the Rhubarb is definitely not as it appears.
2. Corn Is Actually A Fruit.
Yes, you read that right. If we go by technical definitions, corn is actually classified as a fruit, although it’s a little more complicated than that.
In most kitchens, corn is treated just like your regular vegetable. And on an agricultural aspect, corn crops are treated as grains. In fact, the the Whole Grains Council firmly classifies fresh corn as a vegetable and dried corn as a grain.
But the reality is that neither of those definitions is technically correct.
It’s actually a grain and a fruit. According to Marvin Pritts, a horticulture researcher and professor at Cornell University, “Corn is a seed derived from the flower/ovary of the corn plant, so is technically a fruit.”
Specifically, it’s a caryopsis, or grain, that’s also a fruit.
Has corn had you fooled all these years?
3. Avocados Are Fruits, in Fact, They’re Berries
Talk about fruits not appearing as they seem, did you even know avocado was a fruit? We’re not kidding, avocados are actually very big berries, containing one seed.
You’re probably confused about this, so let’s explain what a berry actually is. A berry is a fruit that comes from one ovary and contains seeds wrapped in its fleshy pulp. And yes, that thing inside avocados it’s their seed, which makes them both a fruit and a berry.
By definition, other fruits that are also berries are bananas, tomatoes, eggplants, and cucumbers. Pretty mind-blowing if you ask me.
4. But Strawberries, Blackberries, and Raspberries Aren’t Berries
Yeah, believe it or not, strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries aren’t berries.
They’re definitively fruits by definition, they’re accessory fruits, but not berries because they don’t come from one flower with a single ovary. They’re derived from a flower with more than one ovary, which immediately rules them out of the berry family. In addition to that, strawberries have their seeds on their surface, and real berries keep their seeds inside them.
5. Cocoa Beans and Coffee Beans Aren’t Beans, But Seeds
We still don’t know why so many fruits have very confusing names, but one thing is for sure, coffee and cocoa beans are actually fruit seeds. That’s right, your morning coffee has been appearing unhealthy all this time, when coffee beans are a fruit. This counts as a serving, right? (I can dream, can’t I?)
Both of these seeds are grown in various troical regions. The trees produce a fruit that contains these delicious seeds. Cocoa beans grow in a big, papaya-shaped fruit while coffee beans blossom in shrubs that produce cherry-like fruits.
These seeds are then dried and processed to produce two of the most beloved drinks around the world.
6. Fruit Juices Aren’t As Healthy As They Appear
That’s right, most fruit juices aren’t as healthy as people believe they are.
Well, first things first, most processed self-proclaimed juices are very high in sugar and sometimes might not even contain real fruits. Supermarket juices have a lot of chemicals and are not the healthiest option available for you.
So maybe the solution is to blend your own juices? Well, not so fast because even 100% fruit juice is not like a whole fruit. When you make juice, you’re basically getting rid of most of the fiber and leaving just a few amount of vitamins with a lot sugar.
The best solution? Eat the whole fruit instead and treat fruit juices like you would treat a dessert.
Fruits and vegetables are incredibly varied and diverse, and that’s why it’s so easy to get confused in classifications. Were you surprised by any of the above? I know I was shocked to learn that some of my beloved childhood fruits weren’t as they appeared to me! But I do love learning all about food now!