Over the years there has been several arguments on what category of food tomato belongs to. Many speculate that it a fruit, while others categorize it as a vegetable. Tomato is a red berry of the tomato plant known scientifically as Solanum lycopersicum. Tomato contains 95% water, 4% Carbohydrate and 1% each of fat and protein.
Tomato can serve as 17% of your daily vitamin C need. Tomato also contains various vitamins like thiamine, niacin, pyridoxine, Vitamin E and vitamin K. It is also packed with various minerals like magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and potassium. Consumption of tomatoes and tomato-based products has been linked to improved skin health and a lower risk of heart disease and cancer.
Tomato can be considered as a fruit or vegetable depending on the context. Tomatoes can be labelled as fruits in grocery stores but can also be called vegetables due to its taste and nutritional purposes.
Nutritionally, a fruit is described as a sweet and fleshy food crop while a vegetable is used to indicate a variety of plants that are low in fructose content. Mostly, vegetables are served as part of the main dish or side dish while fruits are used typically as a snack or dessert. There is no rule set aside for designating botanical fruit as vegetable, but since tomato are generally not used as desserts and are not as sweet as regular fruits, they can be classified as vegetables. Vegetable has a bland and bitter flavour. The texture of vegetables is tougher than that of fruits. Most vegetables require cooking, although some are enjoyed raw. They are best used in cooking savoury dishes like salads, stews, stir fries and sauces.
Speaking from a scientific perspective, a tomato is definitely a fruit. Reason being that true fruits are developed from the ovary in the base of the flower and contain the seeds of the plant which is so in the case of tomato. So, a tomato is a true fruit. Generally, a fruit has a soft texture and is mostly sweet. It can also be tart or sour. It is mainly used for desserts, juice, pastries or as a snack in itself.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A FRUIT AND A VEGETABLE
- Botanical Classification: Fruits and vegetables are classified botanically based on the structure and function of the plant part. Fruits are formed from flowers and have seeds that assist the plant in reproduction process. While vegetables are roots, stems, leaves or any other auxiliary plant part. So any crop that is gotten from the roots, stems or leave is called a vegetable.
- Culinary Classification: Fruits and vegetables are classified based on a different system when it comes to cooking. In culinary practices, fruits and vegetables are used primarily based on their flavour and aroma properties. As far as cooking is concerned, crops which are strictly fruits can be classified as vegetables when they are used in savouring rather than sweet cooking.
The answer to the question is that, a tomato is technically a fruit of a plant, but is also a vegetable because it is used in cooking.
Tomatoes are not the only food that people find hard to classify. There are other foods that are botanically classified as fruits and culinarily classified as vegetable. Such foods include;
- Egg plants
- Pea pods
Note: If you are talking to a farmer, refer to tomato as a fruit but when talking to a chef, refer to them as vegetables.