Pumpkins are a part of every home: whether they are used as part of a delicious meal or they are used as decoration for a holiday, pumpkins are always being used. But there has been some confusion about how a pumpkin is classified. So, is pumpkin a fruit or a vegetable?
According to science, in the botanical sense, pumpkins are technically considered a fruit and not a vegetable. This is due to the pumpkin growing from and developing from a flower, and it contains seeds inside it, so the pumpkin is not the actual plant itself like lettuce, meaning it is a fruit.
But if that sounds confusing, don’t worry. You’re not alone, and we’re going to break it all down for you. Pumpkins are part of the plant family known as the gourd family, and in this family, there are about 100 species of plants in this family, but are pumpkins the only plant that is a fruit in disguise? Let us find out!
Is Pumpkin A Fruit Or A Vegetable?
Pumpkins are virtually synonymous with the fall season. We see them as lawn decorations, in public squares, outside of storefronts, and more. We carve faces or designs in them, and we also use them in pies and other delicious treats.
We even see them used to spice up your latte from the local coffee shop. You can even use the seeds for a yummy snack when they’ve been dried out or baked.
Pumpkins are also used in many different recipes around the world. Pumpkins can be used in sweet dessert recipes like pies and cakes, and they can be salted up and used in a savory dish like pumpkin ravioli or pumpkin chili.
There is so much versatility from the pumpkin patch.
But, could pumpkin be a fruit?
We don’t usually think of fruits when we think of this ingredient. But it all comes down to the scientific definitions and the culinary definitions of this food and how we use it. There are also many varieties of pumpkin that you can choose from and this also impacts the flavors and how they are used in cooking.
How is pumpkin a fruit?
First, when it comes to the vegetable category, we often place pumpkin here because of its savory flavor. We expect fruits to be sweeter. A pumpkin doesn’t really have a sweet flavor, except for when it is cooked a certain way or when you add sugar to bring out more natural sweetness from the savory flavor it has naturally.
However, they are scientifically classified as a fruit.
This is a shocking bit of knowledge, as pumpkins do not taste sweet on their own like most other fruits, but their classification does not come from what they taste like, but rather the part of the plant they develop from. But we will have a look at that later in this post.
What are vegetables?
Vegetables are defined as the roots, stems, or leaves of a plant.
Fruits are the part of the plant that has seeds. In the case of a potato, we eat the root, which makes it a vegetable. But when it comes to pumpkin, it’s the fruit of the plant that we eat.
When it comes to eating this plant, the flesh and all the seeds contain a lot of great nutrition. In fact, it’s because of this that it is often called a superfood, or a superfruit.
What Type Of Fruit Is A Pumpkin?
Now that we have established that the humble pumpkin is technically a fruit, we can start asking some other questions about the pumpkin, like what fruit is the pumpkin considered to be? The answer to this question may be more shocking than the whole “pumpkin is technically a fruit” thing.
When you go through and have a look at all the definitions of all the different types of fruit that are available to you, you will come across something interesting. According to these definitions, a pumpkin is considered a berry in the fruit world.
The definition that confirms this is that a berry is a simple and fleshy fruit that usually contains many seeds. This definition is exactly how most people would explain what a pumpkin is and looks like.
This is not the family of fruit most people would have associated with a pumpkin. Still, apparently, according to science, this somewhat large and yellowy-orange thing called a pumpkin is a berry.
What Makes Pumpkin A Fruit And Not A Vegetable?
So, now that that bombshell has been dropped, we can go through why exactly a pumpkin is considered a fruit and it is not a vegetable. What makes a pumpkin fruit is not the flavor of the pumpkin or the time of year the pumpkin is harvested, but rather how the pumpkin grows on the actual plant itself.
In their strict botanical sense, all fruits, pumpkins included, are the dry ripened or fleshy ovary of a plant that then encloses the seeds or seed of the plant. The fruit usually grows from the flowers of the plant, and they are not the plant itself.
So, now that we know what the definition of a fruit is, let us look at what a vegetable is so that you can see the difference, and a pumpkin is not considered a vegetable. A vegetable is all the other edible parts of a plant itself.
Like the leaves of the lettuce plant, the stems of the asparagus plant, the plant’s root like a carrot, the bulbs of a plant like an onion, or even the flowers themselves like artichokes, these are all parts of the plant itself that you eat, and they do not grow as a separate appendage from the plant.
Pumpkins are a great ingredient to have in your kitchen; whether you think of them as a fruit or a vegetable in your kitchen, that is up to you, but maybe they were made more for pies and cakes than you previously realized.
What Other Vegetables Are Actually Considered Fruits?
It may have come as quite a shock to you that pumpkins are actually considered a fruit (a berry to be exact), but are there any other plants like the pumpkin that are vegetables in disguise?
Even though we mainly base our knowledge on whether something is a fruit or a vegetable on the sweet or savory taste of the plant or how they are used in a meal, if you research the topic more in-depth, it seems like a large number of the plants we thought of as vegetables are actually considered to be fruits!
Science will define some of these plants as fruits, just because they were developed and grown from the plant’s flower and contain seeds, and they are not the plant itself. Some of the most well-known “vegetables” surprisingly fall into this category.
Some of the plants that we know as vegetables, but according to science, are fruits, include:
- tomatoes (read: is tomato a fruit or a vegetable)
- avocado (read: is avocado a fruit or vegetable?)
- string beans
- and many more
But in reality, it does not matter if you call these plants, including pumpkins, fruits, or vegetables in your kitchen. As long as you eat more pumpkin, whether you eat the fiber-packed seeds roasted to perfection or the fruit’s flesh in a soup or as part of a hearty dinner, it will always be good for your body!
How to enjoy pumpkins
Whether you call them a fruit or a veggie, we can agree that pumpkins are delicious. From pumpkin pie to baked pumpkin seeds, there are many great ways to enjoy this tasty plant. Typically, they are planted in warm seasons but take some time to grow into the vine. They’re harvested in fall. This is why we’ve come to know pumpkins as an autumn vegetable, but you can enjoy it year-round, especially when you know different ways to make it.
Some ways to enjoy pumpkin include:
- pumpkin pie
- pumpkin puree
- toasted pumpkin seeds
- pumpkin pasta sauce
- cheese spread
- pumpkin ice cream
- with warm salad
- stuffed and baked pumpkin
- creamy pumpkin soup
- baked desserts and bread
- mashed pumpkin
Want pumpkin recipes: Try this book!
Is Pumpkin A Vegetable Or a Fruit? – Conclusion
From pumpkin seeds to pumpkin leaves, there is so much to love about the pumpkin plant. There are also a lot of great benefits to enjoying it. For example, it’s a great source of Vitamin A, which has high antioxidants that help reduce inflammation in the body. It’s also a great source of fiber, which helps with digestive health. There’s also a lot of Vitamin C which is good for healthy skin, bone health, and healthy blood vessels. Additionally, it has Vitamin E that boosts immune health and helps you to protect against disease.
There are so many great reasons to enjoy pumpkins. They taste great and are good for you. The nutritional breakdown is full of positives and there are so many great, creative ways to enjoy it, you’ll never grow tired. Enjoy your pumpkin in a variety of ways, year-round.
Pumpkin has always been a favorite among many people, whether it’s regularly part of a family meal or part of a holiday or tradition. They’re always going to be used in many different recipes for many other occasions, whether they are called fruit or vegetable!