Fruit or Vegetable?


Photo by Danielle Scott
Is the Pumpkin a Fruit or Vegetable?
Botanically, this is...
A Pepo! (A type of fruit)
Culinarily, this is...

Pumpkins are admittedly closer than most. They are botanically a type of berry called a “pepo” due to their seed-bearing fleshiness and hard outer rinds. This means that pumpkins are fruits to botanists because they are the “fruits” of pumpkin plants, but it doesn’t mean that they are actually “fruits” as we typically use the word. Their culinary classification requires a bit more discussion.

Pumpkins satisfy many of the requirements of being a culinary fruit. They are colorful, kind of sweet, and they are made into pies. These are all things that are typical of fruits. When was the last time you had pumpkin outside of dessert? I don’t remember ever having it in another way.

Yet, uh, the pumpkin is not a fruit culinarily. It is a vegetable—no doubt about it. This is the general conclusion of society. This kind of makes sense as other squashes are eaten more normally as vegetables. Also, many people do eat pumpkins in savory dishes. I assume non-pie uses were more common in the past when its categorization was set as well. In addition, it is basically never eaten raw, which is much more befitting of a vegetable than a fruit.

How can something be both a fruit and a vegetable?