Eggplants, aubergines, or brinjals are favorites of many people around the world. They are widely used in cooking all over the world. Eggplants and potatoes belong to the same genus, Solanum. While potatoes are clearly vegetables, many people find it difficult to understand whether eggplants are vegetable or fruits.
Now, before we decide where eggplant belongs, let’s take a look at the definition of fruits and vegetables as shared by Wikipedia.
In a common sense, fruits are used to refer to the fleshy seed-associated structures of a plant that are sour or sweet, and edible in the raw state, just like bananas, lemons, strawberries, and grapes. However, botanical definition of fruits is quite different from the preceded one. In botanical usage, fruits are seed-bearing structures in flowering plants formed from an ovary after flowering, and includes many other structures that are not commonly called fruits such as pods and grains (1).
Vegetables on the other hand are commonly refers to certain parts of plants that are consumed by humans as food as part of a savory meal. However, the original meaning of the term vegetable includes the flowers, fruits, tuber, roots, barks, seeds, stems, and all other plant matter. But in modern day culinary usage, vegetables may exclude foods derived from plant parts such as fruits, cereal grains, and nuts, buts includes seeds such as pulses (2).
Now, based on the above definitions, we can conclude that:
- An eggplant is a fruit, botanically. A berry for that matter, because it contains numerous soft seeds, which can be slightly bitter due to the nicotinoid alkaloids it contain. Even in a common language usage, eggplants are fruits since they are fleshy structures from a plant that can be consumed in raw state.
- When we go by the definition of vegetables, we can also call eggplant a vegetable since it is consumed by humans as a part of plant matter.
Is Eggplant a fruit or vegetable?
In conclusion, eggplant is a fruit, botanically. But you should remember that the term vegetable is somewhat arbitrary, as it is based on how a food is used. In culinary applications, eggplant is a vegetable, because it is used in main and savory dishes, and is not consumed for its sweetness.
Apart from eggplants, there are many other botanical fruits that are classified as vegetables, such as tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers. So, in the end, it all boils down to your perspective and they way in which you use eggplants. As a wrap up, eggplants are fruits in botanical terms, but in culinary use, they are vegetables.
Hey! I’m also having a hard time categorizing this post. Should I put it under fruits or vegetables? I’m going for….. fruits, because we are talking science here.