Monday, November 24, 2008

Botanic fruit and Culinary fruit

Many true fruits, in a botanical sense, are treated as vegetables in cooking and food preparation since they are not sweet. These botanical fruits comprise cucurbits (e.g., squash, pumpkin, and cucumber), tomato, peas, beans, corn, eggplant, and sweet pepper, spices, such as allspice and chillies. Infrequently, though hardly ever, a culinary "fruit" is branded as a true fruit in the botanical sense. For example, rhubarb is frequently referred to as a fruit, because it is used to make sweet desserts such as pies, although only the petiole of the rhubarb plant is edible. In the culinary sense, a fruit is frequently any sweet tasting plant product associated with seed(s), a vegetable is any savoury or less sweet plant product, and a nut any hard, oily, and shelled plant product.

Although a nut is a type of fruit, it is also a well-liked term for edible seeds, such as peanuts (which are actually a legume) and pistachios. Technically, a cereal grain is a fruit termed a caryopsis. However, the fruit wall is extremely thin and fused to the seed coat so almost all of the edible grain is in fact a seed. Therefore, cereal grains, such as corn, wheat and rice are better considered edible seeds, though some references list them as fruits. Edible gymnosperm seeds are often misleadingly given fruit names, e.g. pine nuts, ginkgo nuts, and juniper berries. A Folk taxonomy is a vernacular naming system which describes how non-scientists categorize items.