Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? The short answer is: it depends. But for a longer answer, read on. From a biological perspective, tomatoes are a fruit. Fruits are the part of a flowering plant that contains the seed. Tomatoes come from tomato plants. Tomato plants have flowers, and tomatoes have seeds in them.
But through a culinary lens, they are treated more like a vegetable. We don’t eat tomatoes for dessert, and we cook them in savoury dishes rather than sweet ones.
Historically (at least in the United States), tomatoes are treated as a vegetable from a taxation/tariff point of view. In 1893, a judge ruled they were considered a vegetable and therefore not exempt from vegetable import tariff. At a state level, Ohio and Tennessee consider tomatoes their state fruit. New Jersey considers it their state vegetable while Arkansas considers a particular vine-ripened variety both its state fruit and vegetable.
If you are wondering why the American references, it appears Canadian provinces don’t have official fruits or vegetables – just official flowers, trees, birds, fish, animals, and minerals. For the record, Ontario’s are the loon (bird), the white pine (tree), and the amethyst (mineral).
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