The confusion if tomato is a fruit or a vegetable, is as old as tomato itself. Although, science has already answered this question, common people still fumble when it comes to deciding, if tomato is a fruit or vegetable. There can be various answers to this question depending upon the perspective you adopt. In this article, we have tried to explain if tomato is a fruit or vegetable based on several perspectives.
Botanical science defines fruits, as ripened ovaries of the flowering plants. Going by this definition, tomato is definitely a fruit. Tomatoes, like berries have soft flesh and edible seeds, hence perfectly fit the definition of fruits. But then, this would also imply that eggplant, pumpkin, capsicum, cucumber etc. are fruits!
Seeds are the part of a plant that make a fruit a 'fruit' and vegetable a 'vegetable'. The term 'vegetable' does not exist in botany. Hence according to scientists, all the seed producing flowering plants produce fruits and not vegetables. Other vegetables such as carrots, radishes are roots in botanical terms.
True fruits are perennial and have a hard wood, as opposed to tomato, which is an annual plant and has a soft wood. Thus, horticulture classifies tomato as a vegetable.
If you ask the same question to a cook, he'll tell you that tomato is a vegetable and not a fruit. Culinary science defines fruits as sweet, fleshy foods used in dessert recipes. Tomato does not fit into this definition and hence is a vegetable. Moreover, they are always served as a part of the main course and not as a dessert, this distinguishes tomato from the fruits.
In 1893, the United States Supreme Court gave its verdict, declaring tomato as a vegetable. During that time, fruits were not liable to import taxes. Thus, markets were flooded with cheap tomatoes from other countries. This agitated the consortium of local cultivators, who filed a suit in the court. The court's verdict pacified the consortium and made tomato liable for taxes.
Lot of confusion prevails, regarding tomato's status at the Government level as well. Tomato was awarded the status of 'state fruit' by the State of Tennessee in 2003, while the State of New Jersey is on the verge of declaring tomato as 'state vegetable'. State of Arkansas, went further and declared the 'South Arkansas vine ripe pink tomato' as both the state fruit and vegetable.
Why Common People Think of Tomato as Vegetable and Not Fruit
Technically speaking, tomato may be a fruit, but most people still refer to it as a vegetable and not fruit. Tomato is never used in sweet recipes and always forms a part of a principal diet. It can be eaten salted, which never implies to real fruits. And lastly, when you go to a grocery shop you'll never find tomato placed next to apples or bananas, they are always placed with other vegetables.
Although, tomato has been conferred different titles at different levels, for commoners, it doesn't really matter if it's a fruit or a vegetable. Of course, as long as they continue to be an inseparable ingredient of delicious tomato sauce, soup and other sumptuous recipes.