Strawberry season is just around the corner, which is a sure sign that summer is not far behind. These bright red berries are packed with flavor and have tons of creative uses in the kitchen.
While they are often used in desserts, you can also add some strawberries into your favorite vinaigrette recipe to add extra sweetness to your salad.
If you’re planning on heading out to pick some strawberries this year, you may be wondering whether this berry is a fruit or a vegetable.
So, is strawberry a vegetable? No, strawberries are not vegetables. Strawberries are aggregate fruits that come from the flowering part of the plant and contain seeds. Vegetables typically consist of the roots, stem, or leafy portion of the plant.
Read on to discover the difference between fruits and vegetables and why strawberry is not a vegetable.
What Is a Fruit?
Though we often classify fruits and vegetables based on whether they are sweet or savory, there is actually a botanical definition. When it comes to defining a plant as a fruit, it is the mature, ripened ovary of the plant.
Often, it grows out of a flower blossom and matures into the edible fruiting part of the plant. These ovaries contain the seeds that are required for the plant to reproduce and create more plants.
An easy rule of thumb to decide if a food is a fruit or a vegetable is to check to see if it contains any seeds. If it does, then chances are it is technically going to be a fruit.
Based on this definition of a fruit, strawberries fall neatly into that category. They grow out of the flowering bud of the strawberry plant and are covered in little seeds to help grow the next generation of berries.
What Is a Vegetable?
Vegetables have a broader definition than fruits do because they can be made up of so many different parts of the plant. Basically, a good way to figure out if something is a vegetable is to exclude it as a fruit.
Vegetables can be stalks, such as rhubarb, lovage, and celery. You can also have vegetables that are leaves, including cabbage and lettuces.
Some of our favorite vegetables are root and tuber vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and beets.
Other vegetable classifications include asparagus, which would be a stem, and vegetative or flowering buds that include things like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower.
If you think about all of these vegetables, none of them contain seeds since you will get those from another part of the plant. So the answer to whether strawberry is a vegetable is a resounding no.
What “Vegetables” Are Actually Fruits?
While you may have wondered whether strawberries are vegetables, you might not know that based on the above definitions some of the most popular vegetables are actually classified as fruits.
“Vegetables” that are actually fruits:
- Zucchini and other summer squashes
- Butternut squash, pumpkin, delicata squash, and other winter squashes
- All peppers
The theme you might notice in all these fruits masquerading as vegetables is that they contain seeds.
If you’re ever curious whether a food is a fruit or a vegetable, a general rule of thumb is that if it contains seeds that help the plant reproduce, then it is a fruit.
But why were these fruits ever considered vegetables in the first place? Well, the culinary definition differs a bit from the botanical definition.
Over time, “vegetable” came to mean any edible plant part on the savory end of the spectrum. People rarely ever use botanical terms in daily life, unless you’re a gardener or botanist.
Most of us run into culinary terminology far more often. This is part of the reason it’s so strange to think of avocados, for example, being a fruit.
Are Strawberries a Berry?
Berries are any fleshy fruit that has lots of seeds inside, such as watermelons, tomatoes, lemons, and grapes.
Technically, watermelons belong to a specific family of berries called pepos. Other fruits that belong to this berry family include cucumbers and gourds.
Citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, and oranges are also classified as berries in the family of hesperidium.
It may surprise you to find out that fruits we commonly call berries such as raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries are not actually berries at all.
They are called aggregate fruits. That means that they consist of a number of smaller fruits.
Think about a blackberry and you’ll see that each one looks like a small bunch of grapes, as opposed to one complete berry fruit. Cranberries and blueberries have only one seed inside and are classified as true botanical berries.
Are Strawberries Nuts?
Technically, strawberries are considered aggregate fruits that are made up of more than one fruit.
When you look at a strawberry, the red fleshy part is actually just the swollen part of the stem. The little green specks on the strawberry are actually classified as nuts!
However, due to their similarity with other berries, we often categorize them as such, despite the technical botanical breakdown of a strawberry as an aggregate fruit that’s actually a nut.
How to Freeze Strawberries
If you want to preserve an over-abundance of strawberries this summer so that you can have a little slice of summer all year long, freezing them is a great choice.
Here’s how to freeze strawberries:
- Wash and dry your strawberries.
- Trim the green stem from the top.
- If you want to freeze them whole, then leave the strawberries as is. If you want, you can cut them into halves or quarters.
- Spread parchment paper over a plate or a small baking sheet.
- Lay the strawberries in a single layer on the parchment-lined plate or sheet.
- Place the strawberries in the freezer for 12-24 hours.
- Once your strawberries are frozen, you can place them in an airtight freezer bag.
- Label the bag with the date and contents so you don’t forget when you froze them.
Strawberries should stay fresh for about twelve months after freezing.
Best Ways to Use Summer Strawberries
With the abundance of strawberry season just around the corner now is the time to start stockpiling recipes to take advantage of the bounty.
Here are some great uses for strawberries:
- Try our recipe for margarita strawberries
- Cut them into quarters and add them to your favorite salad.
- Eat them fresh dipped in whipped cream or yogurt.
- Use them as a filling for a pie. Try combining them with rhubarb for a tangy and sweet combination.
- Sandwich them between two halves of a fresh biscuit with some whipped cream to make a strawberry shortcake. Sprinkle with icing sugar for a little extra sweetness.
- Add them to your favorite smoothie recipe.
- Try drizzling them with a balsamic reduction and eating them with fresh goat cheese for a fancy addition to your regular charcuterie platter.
- Cover them with chocolate for a sweet treat. You can even freeze chocolate-covered strawberries for later!
Are Nuts Fruits?
Though you may not think there is much similarity between your apple and your Brazil nuts, both are botanically speaking, fruits. Nuts are generally defined as dried fruits that are high in oil or fat content. They have a husk and a hard outer shell that protect an inner seed.
While it may be mind-blowing to think about, certain foods you consider nuts are something entirely different. Peanuts grow underground and are not nuts at all, but classified as legumes. Cashews, almonds, pecans, and walnuts aren’t technically nuts either, but fruits called drupes.
There are actually fewer true “nuts” than you might think. Hazelnuts, acorns, chestnuts, and Brazil nuts all fall under this category, while the rest are generally classified as drupe seeds.
Are Bananas a Fruit or a Vegetable?
While we often classify bananas as fruits, and indeed they do have seeds, technically they belong to a family of herbs related to the ginger plant. The banana tree actually has a succulent-like trunk as opposed to a woody one like a regular tree.
Though bananas do contain seeds, they are sterile since they have been grown commercially for so long. They’re so small you may barely even notice them when you have your regular banana snack.
If you were going to classify bananas they would be more of a fruit than a vegetable with a distant relation to the ginger herb. While this is an interesting little tidbit of trivia, for your purposes a banana can stay a fruit.