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Are cucumbers a fruit or vegetable? Have you ever wondered about that? It might seem like an odd question at first but cucumbers fall into an odd category in our minds.
We commonly think of them as vegetables likely because they are most often used in salads, sandwiches, and soups.
But wait, so are tomatoes and they are actually a fruit, not a vegetable.
So what about cucumbers is it a vegetable or fruit?
What Is A Cucumber?
Cucumbers are an easy to recognize vegetable in the grocery store and one of the most popular sellers commonly used in salads, fresh eating, and making pickles.
Cucumbers are the fruit of the cucumber plant (Cucumis sativus) also in the gourd family (Cucurbitaceae). With a mild taste and crisp texture, they are a summertime staple of many.
There are 2 main types of cucumbers, slicing that are used for fresh eating and salads mainly and pickling cucumbers that grow and are harvested smaller, obviously for making pickles.
But are cumbers really a vegetable or are they a fruit?
Are Cucumbers A Fruit Or Vegetable?
Botanically Cucumbers Are Fruit
Although most people think of cucumbers as a vegetable, if you go by the scientific definition cucumbers are a fruit, not a vegetable.
The definition of a fruit from Merriam-Webster is:
The usually edible reproductive body of a seed plant especially: one having a sweet pulp associated with the seed.
And is further defined as:
The ripened ovary of a seed plant and its contents.
The purpose of fruit is to allow a flowering plant to reproduce its self.
When the flower is pollinated a fruit is formed in the ovary of the flower that already contains the seeds of the plant.
While vegetables, on the other hand, are used to group edible plants were we eat the leaves, stems, or roots of the plant that are normally eaten as part of a meal.
Which also fits the dictionary definition of a vegetable.
Cucumbers grow from flowers that contain many seeds to grow the next generation of plants and are filled with a pulp surrounding these seeds.
This makes them fruits not vegetables based on the scientific definition.
Culinary: Cucumbers Are Vegetables
If you ask most cooks they would describe cucumbers as a vegetable.
Why? Because when you are cooking you put less emphasis on the scientific definition of a plant and more focus on how you use it.
Fruits are thought of to be very sweet or tart with a soft texture and used in desserts, jams, syrups, and smoothies. They are often used to make treats and not thought of as a main dish ingredient.
Vegetables, on the other hand, are often less sweet, can have a slightly bitter taste, are tougher in texture and are used in main dishes.
So most cooks would consider cucumbers a vegetable because it’s lower in sugar than most fruits and commonly used in main dish recipes, salads and soups.
That makes sense right? After all, in our day to day lives how we use a fruit or vegetable is more important than the scientific definition of it at the time.
Does It Matter?
No, not really unless you are dealing with allergies to fruit. Otherwise, the categorization of cucumbers really doesn’t matter how you use them.
Cucumbers make a wonderful snack in the heat of the summer, but can also be mixed with fruit for a yummy fruit salad or turned into a refreshing cucumber soup.
Cucumbers are a versatile fruit that can be used in so many ways so get creative and enjoy this fresh treat!
More Cucumber Tips
Kim Mills is a homeschooling mom of 6 and lives on an urban homestead in Ontario, Canada. Blogging at Homestead Acres she enjoys sharing tips to help you save money, grow and preserve your own food.