Dear readers:

Understanding the botanical classification of these “vegetables” as fruits provides insight into the complexity of plant biology and how our culinary and scientific classifications can differ. Here’s a more detailed expansion on each of the vegetables that are considered fruits due to their biological makeup:



We begin with:

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum): Tomatoes are commonly used in savory dishes but are berries. They have a fleshy outer layer and contain seeds on the inside. Their classification as a fruit led to the famous Supreme Court case in the United States, Nix v. Hedden (1893), which determined whether tomatoes should be taxed as vegetables.

Cucumber (Cucumis sativus): Cucumbers are part of the gourd family and are considered fruits. They have a very mild flavor and a crunchy texture, often used in salads or as a refreshing snack.

Bell Pepper (Capsicum annuum): Bell peppers come in various colors and are known for their crispness. They contain seeds internally, making them botanical fruits despite their everyday culinary use as vegetables.

Eggplant (Solanum melongena): Eggplants, also called aubergines, have smooth skin and a spongy interior. They contain numerous tiny seeds, classifying them as fruits from a botanical perspective.

Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo): Zucchinis are summer squash, often used in savory dishes or as a side vegetable. They have edible skin and seeds, confirming their classification as fruits.

Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo): Pumpkins belong to the same family as zucchinis and other squashes. They have a tough outer shell, soft orange flesh, and seeds, making them botanical fruits.

Squash (Various species): Squash encompasses various shapes, sizes, and flavors, including butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash. All squashes have seeds and are thus considered fruits.

Okra (Abelmoschus esculentus): Okra pods are known for their sliminess when cooked. They contain seeds and are classified as fruits, even though they are often used in savory dishes.

Pea (Pisum sativum): Peas are round seeds encased in pods, technically considered fruits. They come in various varieties, including garden peas and snow peas.

Green Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris): Green beans, or string beans, are similar to peas because they are seeds within pods. They are commonly used in culinary applications around the world.

Chili Pepper (Capsicum species): Chili peppers come in varying levels of spiciness and are often used to add heat to dishes. They contain seeds and are thus classified as fruits.

Squash Blossoms (Cucurbita species): The flowers of squash plants are edible and can be stuffed, battered, or used in various dishes. When pollinated, the blossoms develop into fruits.

Paprika (Capsicum annuum): Paprika is made from dried and ground peppers. Since peppers are fruits, paprika falls under the botanical fruit category.

Avocado (Persea Americana): Avocados have a large seed inside and creamy, nutrient-rich flesh. They are considered berries due to their inner seed.

Cilantro/Coriander (Coriandrum sativum): The leaves of cilantro and the seeds of coriander come from the same plant. The plant produces small fruits containing the seeds.

Pomegranate (Punica granatum): Pomegranates have tough outer rinds and contain juicy arils, which are edible. Each aril contains a seed, making pomegranates a type of berry.

Watermelon (Citrullus lanatus): Watermelons have a juicy, sweet interior with many seeds. The seeds and the fleshy pulp categorize them as fruits.

Cantaloupe (Cucumis melo): Cantaloupes have netted skin and orange flesh. Their center contains seeds, classifying them as botanical fruits.

Honeydew (Cucumis melo): Honeydew melons have smooth, pale green skin and sweet, juicy flesh. They contain seeds in the center and are thus considered fruits.

Strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa): Strawberries are not actual berries but aggregate fruits. They develop from a flower with multiple ovaries, resulting in tiny seeds on their surface.

Note: if you have a food and wine-related question, e-mail Chef Walter.



There is a constant, recognizable thread in Walter Potenza's career to elevate the level of Italian culinary culture in the United States. Besides his unquestionable culinary talent and his winning business perspective, Chef Walter has been a relentless educator with passion and knowledge who contributes to defeating stereotypes. His life, career, and values are a model, an example to follow, by any Italian gastronomy chef working outside Italy. A native of Mosciano Sant' Angelo in Abruzzo, Italy, is known as one of the most passionate and accomplished practitioners of traditional and historical Italian cooking in the nation. His fields of expertise include Terracotta Cookery, Historical Cookery from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, the Cuisines of the Sephardim Italian Jewish Heritage, and the Mediterranean 21 Health & Wellness, with major emphasis on Diabetes, Celiac and the Cuisines of the 21 countries present in the MED basin.

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