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Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable?

Updated on October 22, 2014

It's time to end this argument!

I grew up knowing tomatoes are vegetables. I don't know how I knew it but I never questioned it because it was just common sense. Now, don't shake your head and walk away. I actually have some good points to make.

1. Tomatoes aren't sweet.

2. Tomatoes aren't served as dessert.

3. Tomatoes don't taste good on ice cream (and all fruit tastes good on ice cream!).

4. Tomatoes are the main ingredient in vegetable juice. Now if the people who make vegetable juice don't think that a tomato is a fruit, why should I?

Image Credit: digitalart

First of All... - What's your opinion?

Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

See results

Now, let's get our facts straight


Botanically, a Tomato is a Fruit

"What? No way! I don't believe you!"

That's what my husband said when I told him tomatoes are fruits. Even after I googled it and showed him website after website saying a tomato was a fruit, he still didn't believe me. In a last ditch effort to convince him, I decided to give him "the talk". You know...the uncomfortable one that explains about ovaries and seeds (I swear I thought his Dad gave him this talk years ago!). Well, after drawing him a diagram, he finally understood that a tomato is a fruit because it's the ovary of a tomato plant and because it carries the seeds. At least he said he understood but considering the fact that he couldn't look at the diagram without blushing, I think he just told me what I wanted to hear so I would quit talking about it. Oh, well. Whatever works...

Now, are you ready to hear the kicker of this whole story? While my husbands long-held beliefs may falter, mine won't. I just can't believe it. Fruits are sweet and taste good dipped in caramel. Have you ever dipped a tomato in caramel? It's not a flavor combination I recommend.

I guess the proof would be in these

Tomato Fruit recipes!

Dumb tomato fact #1

The state fruit of Arkansas is the tomato


Tomatoes are preserved as fruit - So does that prove they're fruit?

When canning food at home, fruits and vegetables are treated differently. Most vegetables have to be preserved using the pressure cooker method because that's the only way to sterilize them from bacteria, while most fruits are safe enough to be preserved using the waterbath method. Tomatoes use the latter.

In fact, when I preserve my tomatoes every summer, I don't even bother with the waterbath method because it's really not necessary. Instead, after blanching, skinning and coring them, I add about a quarter of the tomatoes to a pot and bring them to a boil. When they're nice and hot, I crush them and add the rest of the tomatoes. After stirring and letting them boil 5 minutes, I add a little lemon juice, my favorite seasonings and a little chopped onion and green pepper. Then I let it cool a little. Instead of jars, I preserve my tomatoes in freezer bags. I use different sizes so I can add different amounts (because some recipes call for 1 cup, while others call for 3). I simply add my desired amount to the bags, date them and lay each bag flat on a cookie tray. With this method, I can stack the bags (carefully) 5 or 6 high. Then I place the trays in the freezer. When they're frozen, I can store the bags upright and save a lot of freezer room!


But Legally, a Tomato is a Vegetable!

That's right. Legally a tomato is a vegetable. How this came about is a really boring story, so I'm going to jazz my version up a bit.

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was 1883 and congress was at war. That's right. Republicans and Democrats fought day and night...and sometimes in the morning too. Notes were passed angrily across the table, only to be crumpled and rejected by the other side. Staring contests and thumb wars were at an all time high, with both sides staying equal in their wins and losses. After 8 months, they all realized they had run out of time so they hastily threw together the Tariff of 1883. Then they shook hands and went out for drinks, never realizing that buried deep in the bill was a law that only taxes vegetables, not fruit! Oh well...

With the Tariff fiasco behind them, peace resumed over the land, but it didn't last long. It took just 4 short years for some genius (probably a republican) to finally realize that if they called a tomato a vegetable, they could collect a tax on it. Apparently it was a very controversial subject. One side said changing a fruit to a vegetable would cause the tomatoes to become "confused" and that the "confused" tomatoes shouldn't have the same rights as normal tomatoes. The other side argued that "confused" tomatoes had rights too and suggested a "Don't ask. Don't tell" policy. Finally, after 6 long years of heated looks, whispered rumors and threatening gestures, the supreme court finally made their long-awaited decision. They decided "A tomato is a vegetable because that's the popular opinion".

Do you realize it took twice as long for the Supreme Court to decide if a tomato was a vegetable than it took for them to decide if women should be allowed abortion rights?

I wonder if the Supreme Court

would have considered these

Tomato Vegetable Recipes

as proof? It's extremely damning

evidence, if you ask me.

Dumb tomato fact #2

The state vegetable of Arkansas is the tomato

Even the USDA thinks a tomato is a vegetable - Are YOU going to argue with the USDA?


So what's the verdict?

You have all the evidence, both sides of the story. So is it a fruit or is it a vegetable?

More vegetables that are actually fruits





© 2011 Othercatt

Anything else you'd like to add?

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    • victoriahaneveer profile image


      6 years ago

      One of the most delicious things I ate in the Canaries was a sweet tomato pie. It was made just like a fruit flan and the tomatoes on top were sweetened. It was delicious. Impossible for my description to do it justice but if you ever get offered a slice of sweet tomato pie....... say yes!!!

    • nightbear lm profile image

      nightbear lm 

      6 years ago

      I learned a few things from your lens. I do love this "fruit" tomato.

    • CastleRoyLisa profile image


      6 years ago from Rhode Island

      Love it great lens

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      6 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      really fun lens! I love your congress story. Way more fun than the original.

    • LisaDH profile image


      6 years ago

      Who cares what they are? They're great on sandwiches and salads! :-)

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 

      6 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Really interesting story about the Tariff of 1883 and a fun lens. *Blessed*

    • EMangl profile image


      6 years ago

      well done :-)

      a question for your husband:

      are peanuts nuts or not?


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