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Just like asking if a tomato is a fruit, this question can also spark a pretty lively debate. So what do you think? Is a pepper a fruit?
We all have our preconceived notions and ideas on what the difference is between fruits and vegetables. Especially as kids, fruits were the plants we wanted to eat and vegetables where the plants we didn’t want to eat.
But what if I told you it wasn’t quite that simple? In fact, there are a whole host of vegetables that are actually fruits.
So, is a pepper a fruit or vegetable?
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t super clear cut and it can be answered in three different ways. We can answer from a botanical/scientific perspective, we can give the horticultural point of view, or we can answer according to culinary standards.
Well go into a little more detail below. Keep in mind that this information applies to all types of peppers.
So without getting into too much detail, according to Live Science, the scientific definition of a fruit is an edible portion of the flower that contains seeds. Basically, the plant will flower and then from that flower a seed bearing piece of fruit will develop.
So since a pepper plant will produce flowers and then those flowers will eventually produce a colorful pod full of seeds, it is safe to say that the pepper is a fruit.
Easy peasy, next question, right? But not so fast, there are other points of view.
The definition of horticulture is basically the art or practice of cultivating a garden and managing that garden. So according to the International Society for Horticultural Science, the definition of a vegetable includes fruits and flowers of edible and mainly annual plants. They also typically consider fruits to be crops that come from trees, bushes, and perennial vines.
Essentially, if it comes from a traditional, stalky, green, more fragile plant, it would be considered a vegetable. But if it comes from something a bit sturdier and thicker, like a tree or a bush, it would be considered a fruit.
Using the definition above, it would seem, from a horticultural view, that a pepper is a vegetable. Since it does not grow on a tree or a bush, and instead grows on a leafy, green, stalk type of plant.
So far we’re 1 to 1 in the debate of whether a pepper is a fruit or vegetable.
The final perspective and whether or not a pepper is a fruit or vegetable is from the culinary world. And honestly, this is probably the perspective that most of us are familiar with and the perspective that we use when determining in our own minds whether something is a fruit or vegetable.
The culinary perspective kind of falls in line with the horticultural view. The key difference with the culinary view is that fruits are typically considered to have a higher fructose content and are thus sweeter. Whereas other plants that are more savory than sweet are considered vegetables.
So from a culinary perspective, going strictly on taste, alone, the pepper would be considered a vegetable. Even sweeter, bell peppers are not quite as sweet as something like an apple and thus are considered a vegetable.
If you need help getting your garden crops planned right check out The Ultimate Gardening Calculators so that you have just the amount you need, set aside the right amount of space and know exactly when to plant them.
So, is a pepper a fruit or vegetable? There are strong arguments that it can be either or it can be both. We are going to go with the botanical/scientific definition though and call it a fruit…unless we forget and call it a vegetable
Which definition do you go with? Let us know in the comments below.