The debate whether tomato is a fruit or vegetable is an ongoing one, and refuses to settle down. If you ask your grocer, he will say it is a vegetable. However, a botanist will insist that the tomato is a fruit. So, let us first understand how this confusion actually started.
When it comes to fruit, lay people consider fruit to be a plant product that is sweet, whereas a vegetable to be a product of a plant that is not sweet. Going by this, apples, strawberries, bananas and grapes are considered to be fruits; while tomatoes, potatoes and squash are considered to be vegetables.
However, in technical terms, fruit is natural product from a plant that is fleshy and dry ovary containing a seed or several seeds. Based on this, common vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber, corn and beans are actually fruits in botany. This means that anything that contains seeds should be viewed as a fruit.
If we look at the legal aspect, the US Supreme Court ruled in 1887 that legally tomato is a vegetable and not a fruit. However, this is one ruling that botanists will not concur with.
So, to ensure that the debate does not continue, many culinary experts opine that tomato is a fruit that can be used as vegetable when it comes to cooking just like how many people label certain parts of plants that are used to make desserts as fruits. The best example of this is rhubarb which is frequently used in sweet cooking.
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