If you have ever been to a supermarket, you may have noticed lemons in the vegetable section.
Since then, many of us have been confused about whether a lemon is a fruit or not. After all, lemons are mostly used with vegetables, instead of fruits.
Moreover, many botanical traits decide whether something is a fruit or vegetable. Let’s just say lemon has sparked a lot of interest here.
So, is lemon a fruit or vegetable? Lemon is a fruit. It’s a type of citrus, similar to oranges and grapefruits. Lemon is classified as a fruit because it contains seeds and grows from flowers.
If you didn’t understand it well, don’t worry! In this guide, we will cover the entire topic of whether lemon is a fruit or vegetable. So, without any further ado, let’s get into all the juicy details!
How To Differentiate Between Fruit And Vegetables
Before we talk about whether lemon is a fruit or vegetable, let’s start with the basics. So, how do you decide whether something is a vegetable or not?
Given below are some defining features of fruits and vegetables.
Seeds Or No Seeds?
One of the major differences between a fruit and a vegetable is that fruits contain seeds and vegetables don’t.
It is because fruit is specifically an ovary, which contains ovules. These ovules become seeds after reproduction occurs. So, you can say that seeds are the result of reproduction in flowers.
On the other hand, vegetables are simply a part of the plant – such as leaves, roots, etc. there’s no reproduction here. Hence, they don’t have any seeds present inside or outside of them.
So, here’s the trick: Next time you see any vegetable with seeds, remember that it’s a fruit and not a vegetable!
Even though the taste isn’t a major factor in deciding whether something is a fruit or not, it can still prove to be true in most cases.
Fruits can have a broad ranger of flavors. For instance, they are either sweet, sour, bitter, or tart at times.
However, if you have tasted vegetables, you may have noticed that each one of them has a distinct taste. Most of the time you won’t be able to put a name on the flavor or categorize it.
Both fruits and vegetables are somewhat low in fats with high fiber. But, most fruits contain high sugar whereas only some vegetables, like starchy vegetables (potato, beet) contain high amounts of sugar.
Now, let’s move on to the main question!
What Makes Lemon A Fruit?
Seeing the differences between fruits and vegetables above, you can gauge that lemons are fruits instead of vegetables.
Let’s take a look at some of the main reasons that make lemon a fruit, instead of a vegetable.
Lemons Contain Seeds
There’s absolutely no doubt that lemons contain seeds. These seeds are present inside and once you cut the lemon, you will be able to see plenty of them in just one lemon!
This is a clear indication of why lemons are considered fruits and not vegetables.
Lemons Are A Hybrid Of Other Two Fruits
Another thing that makes lemons a fruit is that it is a man-made hybrid of two fruits and not vegetables.
Initially, two citrus fruits, including bitter orange and citron were crossed together to form a new fruit, which is now known as a lemon.
Because of this, the entire family line of the lemon also proves why it is a fruit.
Lemons Grow From Flowers
If you have ever visited a lemon farm, you may have noticed beautiful white flowers growing from the lemon plants. These flowers are responsible for turning their ovaries (i.e. the reproductive part of the flower) into lemons.
If lemon was a vegetable, it should’ve been entirely another part of the plant, like the leaves or the roots. Instead, it develops from the flower’s ovary which makes it a fruit.
So, these three reasons prove that lemons are a part of fruits and not vegetables. Now, what kind of fruit is a lemon? Let’s understand that.
Is Lemon A Berry?
Here’s a surprising fact you probably didn’t know – Lemon is actually a berry! Yes, it may sound confusing but let’s understand what a berry is in the botanical sense and why lemons are considered as one.
The berry fruit is a type of fleshy fruit that contains three different parts such as:
- Exocarp, also known as the outer layer
- Mesocarp, also known as the fleshy middle layer
- Endocarp, also known as the inner layer consisting of seeds
Moreover, berries should also contain more than two seeds. Now, you may understand why lemons are considered a berry fruit.
Lemons are both a fruit and a berry because lemons contain an outer layer, in the form of peel and rind, the middle layer of the lemon, also known as the pulp, is fleshy instead of being hard, and the innermost layer consists of more than two seeds.
So, lemon is a berry and a fruit!
What To Make With Lemons
Since lemons are fruits, they are commonly used in desserts. You can also use lemons in savory dishes to add acidity, but we are going to focus on our favorite lemon-based sweets.
Let’s take a look at a few popular lemon desserts. Some of our favorites include lemon meringue pie, lemon bars, lemon sorbet, and lemon drop martinis.
List Of Lemon Desserts
Here is a list of desserts you can make with lemon.
3 Ingredient Lemon Pie
It doesn’t get any easier than a dessert with only 3 ingredients, right?
Check out my 3 ingredient lemon pie recipe if you are looking for a quick fix to your lemony sweet tooth.
Jams, marmalade, or curd are made only from fruits. In fact, marmalade is defined as ‘fruit preserve’. As lemon is one of them, you can prepare a fresh batch of lemon marmalade right at your home.
Preparing marmalade is a huge process but in short, you just mix the lemon flesh and peel with sugar and water.
Then, boil these ingredients till they’re mixed well. Lastly, you let the marmalade cool. This is just an overview so make sure you read a proper recipe!
Even though now you do have ice-creams and popsicles with vegetables, traditionally, these items were prepared with only fruits or artificial fruit flavoring.
Lemon ice cream and popsicles are quite popular in today’s time. Both of these items have a lovely combination of sweet and sour taste. Moreover, as lemons have a cooling effect, they’re perfect for summers as well!
Lemon Dump Cake
Lemon pies, cakes, muffins, and tarts have become the ultimate favorite of people today. You can find plenty of baking recipes that have lemon as the main ingredient.
Despite their sour taste, lemons complement bakery items well due to their fruity and refreshing nature.
You can find my lemon dump cake recipe here.
Most candies today have a fruit flavor, be it natural or artificial. And so, lemons are a popular choice here too.
As lemons offer a combination of sour and bitter taste, they suit the sugary nature of the candies. They are also very refreshing and have a cooling effect.
These are just some items where lemons are used as fruits instead of vegetables. You may use them in fruit salads or fruit juices too!
This elderberry lemonade recipe is touted as both a delicious drink as well as a healthy tonic.
Interesting Facts About Lemons
If you’re more intrigued about lemons now, let us tell you some more interesting lemon-related facts!
Lemons Come In Various Different Types
Did you know that there are over 30 varieties of lemons all over the world? Lemons may seem like simple fruit but there are many variations in the sizes, colors, number of seeds, and even the taste in all of these.
Today, the lemons that we get in the markets are known as Lisbon lemons. There are some others as well such as Eureka lemons which have fewer seeds and more juice!
Lemon Plants Produce Fruits All Year Long
The reason why you find lemons so abundantly is because lemon plants produce fruits all year long. In fact, one lemon tree can produce nearly 600 gallons of lemons every year!
The only thing lemon plants require to produce fruit annually is enough moisture content. If there’s less, then the plants won’t flower. And well, no flowers mean no lemons.
Lemons Are Extremely Rich In Vitamin-C
Most of us know that lemons are extremely rich in Vitamin C but did you know that intaking lemon juice daily fulfills 50% of our daily Vitamin C requirements?
Yes, as an adult, you require about 65-90 milligrams of Vitamin C. Lemon contains 31 milligrams of Vitamin C.
Lemon Flowers Have A Beautiful Fragrance
Lemons may smell refreshing but somewhat bitter. We cannot say the same for lemon flowers as their smell is considered as the ‘happiest smell in the world!’.
Lemon flowers have a more subtle yet refreshing lemon-like smell. This is the reason why they also attract a lot of butterflies.
Lemon Has Antibacterial Properties
Lemons contain two types of acids – citric acid and ascorbic acid. Both of these acids are extremely helpful for killing bacteria.
Bacteria can survive at a specific pH only. However, due to the acids in lemons, the pH may drop down and cause the death of most bacteria.
Lemons Are Negatively Charged
There’s a bit of chemistry involved here. Most fruits that we eat today have a positive charge due to more protons and fewer electrons.
On the other hand, lemons have more electrons than protons which makes them negatively charged.
Lemons Change Their Color Due To Changing Temperatures
Initially, the lemons are green in color and very bitter.
However, as they become ripe, the color changes to yellow. The flavor becomes more citrusy instead of bitter too. The color change takes place when the temperature becomes warmer.
Which Other Vegetables Are Actually Fruits?
Keep in mind that the definitions of fruits and vegetables differ based on culinary classification and botanical classification. So some culinary vegetables are fruits in the botanical sense and vice versa.
So, apart from lemons and tomatoes, many more assumed vegetables are actually fruits from the botanical point of view.
This certainly comes as a surprise, doesn’t it? Most peppers, be it bell peppers or jalapeños, are fruits even if their culinary status is similar to vegetables.
All peppers have an outer wall, along with many seeds. This makes them fruit instead of a vegetable as we talked about earlier!
Cucumbers are widely used in pickles and salads. Yet, they are considered fruits because of their structure and growth.
Cucumbers have an outer layer, a fleshy middle layer, and an inner layer containing a lot of seeds! Apart from cucumbers, other gourds are also fruits in the botanical sense.
If you have seen an Okra plant before, you may have known that the pod actually grows from a flower. Hence, Okra consists of many seeds that classify it as a fruit.
Furthermore, okra is a type of dry dehiscent fruit as it opens from two seams and has multiple seeds inside.
Have you ever thought that olives belong to the same category as mangoes, peaches, dates, etc.?
Olives are drupe or stone fruit due to the presence of a hard pit covered by a fleshy outer layer. This is also seen in mangoes and peaches where the inner part is stony and hard.
Just like tomatoes and lemons, avocados are also berry fruit! They consist of an outer layer with a middle fleshy layer and an inner layer with seeds.
Even if most berries contain multiple seeds, an avocado is an exception as it’s a single-seeded berry.
Peas aren’t exactly the fruit. It’s the pod that is fruit whereas the peas are actually seeds. Peapods are considered as a dry dehiscent fruit as they can open from two seams. The inner part contains multiple seeds, known as peas.
Just like peas and okra, bean pods are also considered fruit. The beans present inside are seeds in reality.
These are just some examples of vegetables that are fruits. There are many more such vegetables that are fruits in the botanical sense.
Now that we’ve gotten a chance to look at how lemons are fruits, let’s take a look at some related questions on the subject!
Is lime a fruit or vegetable?
Limes are similar to lemons in almost every aspect except they’re slightly bitter. They contain seeds too. So, just like lemons, lime is a citrus fruit. It is a berry due to the presence of an outer layer, fleshy inner layer, and multiple seeds.
Is eggplant a fruit or vegetable?
An eggplant’s structure indicates that it’s a fruit. It consists of many seeds, an outer layer, and a fleshy middle layer too. Eggplant is also a type of berry, like tomatoes and lemons.
Is pumpkin a vegetable or fruit?
Pumpkin is yet another famous fruit that is considered a vegetable. It has all the characteristics of fruit such as:
- Contains seeds
- Grows from a flower instead from a part of a plant
- Closely related to other fruits like cucumbers and watermelons
If this is the first time that you came to know that lemon is a fruit, don’t worry. We had the same reaction when we did!
Lemons have various fruit traits. They contain a lot of seeds and grow from flowers whereas vegetables are the roots, stems, or other plant parts. They are also used in various fruit-based recipes and dishes.
Apart from lemons too, we have talked about a lot of vegetables that aren’t vegetables, be it your favorite avocado or olives.
But remember that in the culinary sense, most of these fruits are considered vegetables. It is only in the botanical sense that they are more like fruits.