Is A Tomato A Berry? Why Or Why Not?

There are so many misconceptions about food; this is one of the more common ones about tomatoes. But do tomatoes belong to the berry family? The answer might surprise you! In this article, we’ll cover all the bases to help you make an informed decision about whether or not tomatoes are berries.

A tomato is classed as a fruit according to the botanical classification. Tomatoes, however, are classified as vegetables under culinary classification. Tomatoes are indeed berries since they develop from yellow flowers on the plant. It bears many seeds because of the fleshy ovary inside the flower. Therefore, we can say that tomatoes are berries.

Let’s Take A Closer Look At What Makes Something A Berry

It must be fleshy. Berries are soft fruits that hold their seeds within cavities (like tomatoes) or on seed-bearing stems (like blueberries). They can also be very tiny like cranberries or very large like a banana; they all have in common: they’re soft and fleshy. 

One of the defining characteristics of berries is that they’re tender enough to be eaten without being cooked. However, many people do cook them for flavor. 

Berries contain simple sugars. For example, strawberries are about 90% water and 8% sugar by weight. Blueberries are even sweeter at 92% water and 8% sugar by weight. And blackberries clock in at 92% water and 10% sugar by weight—not bad for such a small fruit! 

Now, we know that not every plant part we eat counts as a vegetable —cauliflower stalks and cabbage leaves come to mind—but it turns out that some parts of plants aren’t berries either. Therefore, we can say that tomatoes are berries. So you can find all these characteristics in tomatoes.

Are Tomatoes Fruits, While Tomato Plants Are Herbaceous Perennials?

This depends. While most people consider tomatoes fruits, botanists classify them as berries. According to scientific classification, plants are either flowering (or angiosperm) or non-flowering (or gymnosperm). Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family of flowering plants. 

Botanists generally define fruit as any part of a plant containing seeds. When you eat a tomato, you consume its fruit—the ovary and attached seeds—not its leaves or stems. Botanically speaking, then, tomatoes are indeed berries. 

If we’re talking about culinary usage, both terms can be used interchangeably for both foods. It’s worth noting that neither botanical nor culinary definitions always hold true. 

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For example, cranberries technically fit botanical definitions of a berry; however, they are generally not considered berries when used in cooking because they are harvested before ripening. 

Likewise, tomatoes have been known to behave like berries in some cases. American soldiers ate unripe green tomatoes during World War II with great success. Despite these exceptions, it is safe to say that most people use berry in a culinary context and fruit in a botanical one.

We Live In a Beautiful World Where Tomatoes Can Be both Berries and Fruits Simultaneously

Legally defining a fruit or vegetable is no small task and can require years of research and debate to agree on even one type of plant. Botanically speaking, of course. Tomatoes are berries and fruits; they cannot only be botanically defined as both—they can legally be sold as both. 

For example, until 1893, scientists agreed that tomatoes were fruits (and not vegetables). However, there’s some disagreement about whether tomatoes should be classified as berries or whether they should remain in their category.

In addition to being fruits (and therefore part of a berry), tomatoes are technically considered poems, meaning they have seeds inside them like apples. This classification makes some people believe that tomatoes aren’t actual berries because true berries have seeds outside of them.

However, other people argue that these definitions don’t matter since most laypeople don’t understand what pome or seeds mean. We’ll likely continue to argue over what constitutes a berry versus a tomato for quite some time.

5 Outstanding Facts About Tomatoes 

Here are 5 outstanding facts about tomatoes that you should know.

Fact 1: A Tomato Plant Is The Only Plant With An Edible Fruit

Tomato is technically a fruit, but it’s not just any old fruit; it’s one of only two fruits humans eat (the other being apples). Technically, an apple and all its relatives (pears, pomegranates, and so on) are also fruits—they develop from ovaries in their respective plant parts. 

Tomatoes can be classified as fruits by these four characteristics: 

  • They contain seeds.
  • They don’t ripen after being picked. 
  • Most importantly, they can self-pollinate.
  • Their seeds require very little assistance to grow. 

Other foods with these same traits are sometimes classified as berries, such as cucumbers and eggplants.

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Fact 2: Tomatoes Have Seeds In The Center

While most fruits have seeds on the outside (such as a peach), tomatoes have their seeds in small chambers. So, if you like using tomatoes in your cooking, then, by all means, do so without fear. And remember: You can put whatever kind of label you want on them…but at least now you know what makes them tick!

Fact 3: The Official Plant-Based Classification Of A Tomato Is The Fruit

Food scientists at Cornell University in New York and UC Davis have determined that tomatoes should be considered a fruit. Like berries, tomatoes are harvested from a plant’s ovary after pollination. 

Tomatoes are even botanically defined as an accessory or false fruit because they only partially develop outside of a flower. Although it is commonly thought that a tomato is not a berry, it fits all these characteristics. However, some disagree with these findings and insist on classifying tomatoes as vegetables.

Fact 4: Tomatoes Are Fruits, Whether We Like It Or Not

Fruit is simply a part of a plant that holds seeds, and tomatoes are indeed a fruit. While they are technically classified as berries, their taste, texture, and use in food make them closer to actual fruits than most other berries. 

They’re not actual berries, like blueberries or cranberries, and they’re certainly not non-berry fruits—like apples or pears. It’s hard to find another example of a berry that isn’t a true berry.

Fact 5: Tomatoes Are Considered Vegetables By Nutritionists

Despite their fruity appearance, tomatoes are considered vegetables by nutritionists. The nutritionists consider stems, roots, tubers, leaves, flower buds, and some botanical fruits, such as green beans, pumpkins, and tomatoes. As a flower ovary, a fruit contains seeds when it has ripened.

How Are Tomatoes Unique And Different From Other Plants?

To understand how tomatoes differ from other plants, it’s essential to look at their molecular composition. Tomatoes are plants that belong to a larger group of fruits called berry fruits. Both berries and tomatoes have soft fleshy seeds encased in their pulp and skin, which do not need to be digested for us to receive all of their nutrients. 

The difference between a tomato and other berries is that while most berries contain only one seed, tomatoes have multiple seeds (up to 500). The tomato is also unique because, unlike most fruit, it contains chlorophyll and can produce energy through photosynthesis, just like green plants. 

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This gives them an advantage over other plants as they can grow in places with no soil conditions conducive to plant growth. They even thrive during droughts! 

FAQ’s

Here are some faqs about tomatoes, whether they are berries, fruits, or vegetables. 

Should Tomatoes Be Considered A Fruit Or A Vegetable?

The term fruit refers to anything from a flower’s fertilized ovary. Tomatoes are included in this category. Therefore, tomatoes are fruits. 

Can Tomatoes Be Considered A Vegetable?

According to the scientific definition, tomatoes are fruits. However, in common usage, they are considered vegetables. 

Do Tomatoes Belong To The Berry Family?

Berries are usually considered to be fruits that you eat. Berries are edible fruits that come from a single plant. Tomatoes are berries since they are small and edible fruits harvested from one plant.

How Does A Tomato Qualify As A Berry?

The seeds grow in the innermost layer of berries, so tomatoes are called berries. Berry pulp is thick, and a single flower ovary produces all berries.

What Is The Value Of Tomatoes As Food?

The tomato is technically a fruit, but fruits and vegetables used as popular names for part of plants are inaccurate. The tomato is considered a food serving. For this discussion, a “piece” of fruit is usually considered to be a serving of four ounces by weight.

How Are Tomatoes Grown?

It takes about 4-6 months for a typical tomato plant to fully mature. For optimal taste and texture, we recommend picking ripe red ones from your garden instead of store-bought varieties. Ripe tomatoes should feel firm but yield slightly when squeezed.

Final Thoughts

Although some scientists debate whether or not a tomato is a berry, most agree that tomatoes are part of the fruit family and are berries. Like other fruits, they contain high amounts of sugar, which gives them that sweet taste we love. 

Since they’re also packed with vitamins and nutrients and have few calories, tomatoes are an excellent choice for people trying to lose weight. They can be enjoyed in salads, sandwiches, on pizza—anywhere you might use another type of fruit. So go ahead and enjoy your next slice of juicy red goodness!