Cucumber: fruit or vegetable?

[Article updated on 19/09/2023]

A question commonly comes up in debates: is the cucumber a fruit or a vegetable? For many, this question has already been answered because the answer is obvious. However, wait a moment! Don’t rush to respond before reading this article, because sometimes things are not as they are painted. In this article, I will set out to settle this debate as old as time.

Before reading on

I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.

The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.

What is cucumber?

Cucumber is a type of edible plant that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. Its scientific name is Cucumis sativus. It is widely cultivated and is a nutritious addition to any diet. Cucumbers are native to various parts of Southeast Asia, but are currently grown throughout the world.

recognize the cucumber
Size and color can vary greatly depending on variety. But cucumbers are known for their long cylindrical shape and bright green skin.

Cucumber has a high water percentage and low carbohydrate content. The low calorie content of cucumber (12 calories per 100 grams) makes it one of the best allies for weight loss diets. It contains fiber and small amounts of vitamin C, provitamin A and vitamin E, as well as B vitamins in a smaller proportion.

Aristotle, the Athenian philosopher, attributed aphrodisiac properties to it, and the last queen of ancient Egypt, Cleopatra, used cucumber as a beauty treatment. This fruit is not only intended for the preparation of salads, it is also used in the preparation of creams, soups, sauces, pickles, stews and juices. In addition, it can accompany stuffed breads, stews, gazpachos, pizzas and salad dressings.

What are the differences between fruits and vegetables?

There are many myths surrounding fruits and vegetables, but perhaps one of the most curious is the confusion between them. These confusions arise from beliefs, historical facts or even uses.

In the scientific field of botany, there are differences between fruits and vegetables, since both have very specific characteristics. Of course, once you know what it is, it’ll be a little harder to confuse you, at least in most cases.

Fruits and vegetables are different parts of a plant. Fruits develop from the ovaries of the plant. they contain seeds, have an envelope and have a pulp. On the other hand, vegetables concern the rest of the plant (seeds, tubers, roots, stems, leaves, bulbs and flowers). There are some exceptions to these rules, which I will delve into another time.

Is cucumber a fruit or a vegetable?

Although many people think of cucumbers as vegetables, the scientific definition states that they are fruits. This distinction is based primarily on the biological function of the cucumber itself.

In botany

In botany (the science that studies plants), fruits allow a flowering plant to reproduce. A fruit is formed from the ovary that exists inside the flower and houses the seeds that will eventually grow into new plants.

Cucumbers grow from flowers and contain dozens of seeds that can be used to grow future generations of cucumber plants. This basic function is what makes them fruits and not vegetables, according to science.

From a culinary or gastronomic point of view

However, in the culinary sense, cucumbers are vegetables. Much of the confusion surrounding the classification of different fruits and vegetables comes from culinary use. The culinary definition of a fruit or vegetable is generally based on the flavor profile, texture, and applications in a particular dish.

The fruits tend to be very sweet, sour or sour, and often have a softer, delicate texture. They are more likely to be used in dishes such as desserts, cakes, syrups, sauces and smoothies that require such flavors and textures.

On the other hand, vegetables generally have a tougher texture and generally have more bitter elements in their flavor profile. They are generally more suitable for savory dishes such as main courses, soups and salads.

savory dish
The cucumber is most often used in savory dishes, which has given it its reputation as a vegetable in the kitchen.

In terms of taste, cucumbers fall somewhere in the middle, although they are much more likely to be used as vegetables. The crunchy texture, sweet taste of the interior pulp and slightly bitter taste of the skin lends itself well to a wide variety of tasty recipes.

As we see, the answer to the question of whether cucumber is a vegetable or a fruit depends on who you ask. If you ask a botanist, he will tell you that the cucumber is a fruit, while a cook will swear to you that it is a vegetable.