The Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable?

The glorious tomato is a bright star in the culinary universe. Think about the different possibilities that can be done with this versatile ingredient. From cream of tomato soup, an Italian sauce, a rich salsa from south of the border, or a BLT, the versatility list can go on forever.

However, the tomato conjures up one of the most perplexing conundrums, is it a fruit or a vegetable?

Surprisingly the tomato is both; it just depends upon who is going to answer the question.


Public Domain Image courtesy of Pixabay


From the legal viewpoint: The tomato is a vegetable. The Supreme Court of the U.S. declared it to be a vegetable on May 10, 1893. A decision was necessary because of U.S. tariff laws.

From a Scientific viewpoint: The tomato is a fruit. Botanists consider all plant life to be “vegetation.” However, they classify fruit as the edible ovaries of a plant. Certainly our friend the tomato clearly fits into their fruit definition.

From a culinary viewpoint: The tomato is a vegetable. It can be part of an appetizer, a soup, a side dish, or an entrée unto itself. However, a vegetable can never, ever be part of a dessert.

Is it any wonder that I despise the very existence of Carrot cake?

The final definition was the determining factor of the tomato’s legal status. Although scientifically a fruit, the government classified it as a vegetable because it was used and treated like one. So go ahead and enjoy your fresh, sweet tomatoes. Just don’t try to make tomato pudding and garnish it with chocolate syrup and whipped cream.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy a tomato?



14 thoughts on “The Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable?

  1. When I lived in Manhattan, there was no point to “fresh” tomatoes – the ones available to me might as well have been wax fruit. The only thing they were good for was to add a bit of moisture to a sandwich. (And believe me, having gone to undergrad at the U. of Tenn., I *know* good tomatoes.) When I got back to K-town, I gorged. Raw. Sometimes with a sprinkling of balsamic – usually with salt alone. Lunch, dinner, snacks. I don’t eat breakfast, or I would have started my day with them.

    Now that I’m in Cincinnati, it’s iffy, but never as bad as the tomatoes of NYC – they don’t have to be union trucked over bridges, so no need to have thick skins of iron to make the trip before they turn to sauce. Different breed. If I can find great tomatoes, I eat ’em raw and stand-alone. Otherwise? Salad.

    I was recently introduced to a BLT salad, a specialty of a nearby restaurant. Just what it sounds like. No bread, btw, unless you wanted to add home-made croutons (GF here) — and dice the tomatoes. With good lettuce, enough great tomatoes piled on top, a heap of bacon, and a bit of blue cheese dressing, I’m in heaven. Caesar’s good too, if you don’t want blue cheese – or Ranch. Once the bacon is ready (that’s why God made microwaves), there’s nothing to it. I can have several at home for the price of one at that restaurant.

    Depending on what I’m cooking, I’m not averse to a good canned version. Hope that doesn’t send you into carrot cake paroxysms – but I don’t use jarred sauce, if that makes you feel better.

    Don’t ask if you’re not ready for a chatty answer from me. 🙂
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • The tomatoes sold by grocers in Staten Island were always wonderful. Especially at ethnic vegetable stands.
      I like the idea of a BLT salad. Thanks for the recipe. I’ll try it with ranch first because my wife loves it and I like to make my own.
      Try a tomato salad. Diced tomatoes with finely chopped red onion. Salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I share Madelyn’s love of tomatoes. In Greece, we eat them as ntako salad, i.e. diced and spread on thick crouton-like rusks, drizzled with olive oil and topped with feta cheese, olives, and capers. The perfect summer food. In fact, I was just marveling the other day at the fact that tomatoes form such a cornerstone of Mediterranean cuisine, yet have only been around for a couple of centuries.


    • Crouton-like rusks? I’m assuming something akin to a hard flat bread. The recipe sounds like a tricked out version of bruschetta. And I’m also assuming Kalamata olives. Sometimes I think God created Kalamata olives because he needed something to go with feta cheese. They are a perfect compliment to each other.
      Can’t wait to try this one. Do you wash it down with Wine or Ouzo? Or both? 🙂
      Good catch on the tomato’s youth in Europe and around the Mediterranean (potatoes too).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. seeded baked or fried with melted gruyere @ fresh cracked pink peppercorns crusty brick oven bread torn never sliced that’s a no! no! oh! the Tomato is a Fruitable LOL


  4. Ooooops! that’s me seeded baked or fried with melted gruyere @ fresh cracked pink peppercorns crusty brick oven bread torn never that’s a no! no! oh! the Tomato is a Fruitable LOL no not bruschetta, the bread is torn next to the baked or fried tomato


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