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Vegetables used as fruits


Pan
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We all know that it's extremely common to use biological fruits as vegetables. Tomato, avocado, squashes, pumpkin, peppers, cucumber, etc. It's a lot less common to use what we might call biological vegetables (leaves, stems, etc.) as fruits, for their sweetness or sourness in sweet or savory dishes. The one that comes to mind immediately is rhubarb. What else? I don't tend to think of sweet root vegetables like beets or sweet potatoes as counting for fruit substitutes, by the way: I think they form their own category. (Do you agree?) And beans are seeds, with the pods being the fruits. Coconut is also a seed, with the husk being the fruit.

Maybe a bigger question is: We all know what "fruit" means in biological terms. What does "vegetable" mean to you?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 9 months later...

Is it harder to define "vegetable" than "fruit"? I would tend to agree that it is, but perhaps worth the effort on a site devoted to food.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Sugar cane

Sugar beet

Ginger (and galinagle etc) (root and stems)

Angelica (stems, crystallised)

Orris ((iris root; bit obscure, but used as a gum and as a flavour fixative). Other gums are dried exudates.

Many herbs (swet cicely, Bay, geranium leaves, mints are all used as sweet flavours)

Marshmallow (the orginal was a root)

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Here's an ignorant question. Are olives vegetables? Somehow, I seem to recall seeing a recipe for an olive clafoutis. The olives were steeped in syrup prior to being enrobed with a rich eggy batter.

Other than that, I can only think of carrot cake and oh yes, zuccini in cakes & muffins.

Yetty CintaS

I am spaghetttti

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Here's an ignorant question.  Are olives vegetables?

Biologically, olives are fruits. I'm guessing that Chinese people, accustomed to having them sweet or sweet/salty (etc.) preserved, may think of them as such. In most other cuisines with which I'm familiar, they are commonly treated as vegetables.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I suppose that if a fruit is the seed-bearing part of a plant then a vegetable is the part of a plant that does not contain seeds? Perhaps rhubarb is an example of a veggie used as a fruit.

Believe me, I tied my shoes once, and it was an overrated experience - King Jaffe Joffer, ruler of Zamunda

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Fennel (leaf, seeds and bulb -- it has it all) -- which is used for both savory and sweet.

Cabbage -- shredded, cooked sweetened with brown sugar, then used in breads like carrot in sweet carrot bread.

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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Veg as a "sweet" is relatively common, but Veg as "fruit" doesn't quite work. The OED has this to say on "fruit":

"The edible product of a plant or tree, consisting of the seed and its envelope, esp. the latter when it is of a juicy pulpy nature, as in the apple, orange, plum, etc. tree of fruit = fruit-tree.

 As denoting an article of food, the word is popularly extended to include certain vegetable products that resemble ‘fruits’ in their qualities, e.g. the stalks of rhubarb."

So if you can get it from a plant and eat it is most likely a fruit.

But, in the non-fruiting body fruit categorie, even potatoes (non the sweet type) are used as a dessert item, all a matter of adding enough sugar.

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In botanical terms a gourd, inedible, is a fruit, just as many indeible or even poisonous berries are fruits.

Therefore the "edible" classification is a bit dicey, even if it is the OED.

In some cases the entire plant is edible, as noted the fennel.

Also there is mustard, in which the young leaves are edible as are the very young, green seed pods and then the seeds themselves when fully developed and dry.

Beet greens and the root, also salsify, celery root as well as the stems and leaves may be eaten or the leaves and stems used as flavoring.

Perhaps the crossover of fruit to vebetable is more common in the summer squashes which are indeed fruit, but are usually considered a vegetable, but as pointed out earlier, some can be consumed as a sweet when incorporated into cakes or muffins.

They can also be pickled and the very sweet type pickles or bread and butter types are more fruit-like than vegetable, but we are now entering the realm of condiment which is a whole other subject.

A fun topic...........

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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How about the odd plants such as chicory, in which the part above ground is eaten as a vegetable or salad (endive) and the root is dried and ground and used as a substitute or addition to coffee.

I believe rhubarb is classified as a vegetable and is interesting in that the roots and leaves are poisonous but the stems are edible.

One wonders who it was who survived to discover which part was ok.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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The definition of fruit as edible is a little strange, but I guess that most fruits are edible, maybe just not to humans. Some gourds are edible, infact the bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) is consumed by some cultures and the a member of the same species ("Italian Squash" in the USA I think) is a relatively common vegetable.

Some where I have a recipe for parsnip pie, which is sweetened, so we would most likely consider it a fruit/sweet, but at the time of the recipe this wasn't really true. Infact there are lots of these types of recipes.

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while fruits are technically only one part of the plant (the part that contains the seeds), vegetables are basically any part that does not contain seeds--roots, tubers, stems, leaves, etc.

and what about tarte du blette (sp?), the provencal dessert made from swiss chard stems, raisins and (if i recall correctly), pine nuts or almonds?

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Some where I have a recipe for parsnip pie, which is sweetened, so we would most likely consider it a fruit/sweet, but at the time of the recipe this wasn't really true.

Parsnip is pretty sweet without added sugar, however.

There are a bunch of sweet roots, and the most common ones plus some less common ones have already been mentioned here: Sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, beet, angelica (with which I was unfamiliar), ginger, etc.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I guess there's another thing I'm thinking of. You know how there are a bunch of biological fruits (e.g., tomato, squash, pumpkin, olive, avocado, cucumber) that are usually thought of as vegetables? What biological non-fruits are usually thought of as fruits? Rhubarb, perhaps. Do you think any of the previously-mentioned roots, stems, leaves, grasses, and seeds qualify as being normally thought of as fruits? Coconut, perhaps?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Some where I have a recipe for parsnip pie, which is sweetened, so we would most likely consider it a fruit/sweet, but at the time of the recipe this wasn't really true.

Parsnip is pretty sweet without added sugar, however.

There are a bunch of sweet roots, and the most common ones plus some less common ones have already been mentioned here: Sweet potato, carrot, parsnip, beet, angelica (with which I was unfamiliar), ginger, etc.

True, but at the time of this recipe sugar from Barbados made it's way into everything, however, the distinction between a sweet and savoury wasn't so absolute as in modern European cooking. Some of the dishes mentioned here, like the sweet spinich pie (also made with swiss chard in S. France) are random survivors of this period.

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I guess there's another thing I'm thinking of. You know how there are a bunch of biological fruits (e.g., tomato, squash, pumpkin, olive, avocado, cucumber) that are usually thought of as vegetables? What biological non-fruits are usually thought of as fruits? Rhubarb, perhaps. Do you think any of the previously-mentioned roots, stems, leaves, grasses, and seeds qualify as being normally thought of as fruits? Coconut, perhaps?

I would put coconut in that fruity category based on it's general usage, which is to either be an ingredient in sweet dishes, or as an ingredient in savory dishes with a fruit component.

Sweet potatoes are so versatile in both sweet and savory dishes that they easily fall back and forth across the line.

Judith Love

North of the 30th parallel

One woman very courteously approached me in a grocery store, saying, "Excuse me, but I must ask why you've brought your dog into the store." I told her that Grace is a service dog.... "Excuse me, but you told me that your dog is allowed in the store because she's a service dog. Is she Army or Navy?" Terry Thistlewaite

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