The cucumber is a favorite vegetable of many…but wait…is a cucumber a fruit or a vegetable?
First, what is a cucumber? A popular garden vegetable; popular for eating fresh, preserving in pickles, and adding to salads. The cucumber is the fruit of the Cucumis sativus plant which is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family.
There are 2 general types of cucumbers:
- slicing; which are used for fresh eating mostly
- pickling; smaller, usually used for pickling
Growing up kids always flaunted the knowledge that a tomato is a fruit NOT a vegetable. And, while yes, that is true, have you ever stopped to think about what makes a vegetable versus what makes a fruit?
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Is a Cucumber a Fruit or a Vegetable?
Well, that depends based on who you are asking and what their criteria is for deciding.
So first let’s look at the technical definition of a fruit, according to Merriam Webster: “the usually edible reproductive body of a seed plant“
So, let’s take a look at what this means for cucumbers.
According to Science: the cucumber is a fruit
As seen above, scientifically speaking, a fruit is the part of a plant that develops from the flower and contains the seeds of the plant. According to botanical definitions, the fruit of a plant is what allows the plant to reproduce. It develops from the ovary of the flower and contains the seeds the plant needs to reproduce into future generation.
By this definition, a cucumber is a fruit. It develops from the flower of the cucumber plant and contains the seeds.
All other parts of the plant- roots, leaves, stalks, etc- would be the vegetables.
So in the garden- the cucumber is the fruit of the plant. But bring it inside to the kitchen, and you may get a different answer!
Related Reading: Can Dogs Eat Cucumbers?
According to Cooks: the cucumber is a vegetable
In the kitchen and in the culinary world the cucumber would be described as a vegetable. Their less scientific criteria classifies fruits and vegetables based on sweetness and sugar content.
Fruits have a more delicate flavor. They have a softer texture and are sweet or tart in taste. Fruits are more likely to be featured in desserts, jams, smoothies, or other sweeter dishes. And I don’t know about you, but whether or not you can make a pie from it, can be a big deciding factor as well!
Vegetables are harder, with a somewhat bitter taste. They are used in savory dishes and soups.
So in the kitchen, cucumbers would be considered a vegetable as it is low in sugar and usually used in more savory dishes (though I’ve used them in a few sweeter dishes and they are delicious!)
Does It Really Matter?
NO! Cucumbers are delicious and have a lot of nutritional value- so no matter if you think a cucumber is a fruit or a vegetable keep on eating them and keep on growing them!
Cucumbers have a ton of uses from hydrating cucumber infused water to cucumber face masks. With their high water content and low calories, cucumbers make the perfect summertime snack.
Learn More About Cucumbers:
Check out these articles below to learn more about cucumbers, the benefits of cucumbers, how to store them, and more!