The saying, “looks can be deceiving”, can be true in a lot of cases. When it comes to food, some of our everyday items are not what they might seem to be. For instance, did you know that strawberries are not actually berries and white chocolate isn’t chocolate at all? While some of these things might sound extremely ridiculous, they are in fact true. Today, we are listing 11 unknown facts about everyday foods that most people aren’t aware of.
1. Avocados and bananas are actually berries.
While most people consider avocados to be a vegetable, they in fact belong to the family of fruits. According to California Avocados, the nutrient-dense fruit belonging to the genus Persea in the Lauraceae family is actually a berry. Since they have fleshy pulp and a seed inside, they fit all of the botanical criteria for a berry. Bananas on the other hand are also botanically berries since they also fulfill all requirements that classify them. (source)
2. Peanuts aren’t actually nuts but rather considered as beans.
People go nuts over peanuts with countries like China, India, Nigeria and the US being the top four countries who consume the most number of peanuts. Every year, billions of pounds of peanuts are consumed worldwide and the mighty snacks help us in a variety of ways. For instance, studies have shown that peanuts can boost your brainpower and help with various diseases. According to the Texas Peanut Board, the average American consumes more than three pounds of peanut butter a year.
While most people think peanuts are nuts, they are in fact legumes; which means that they are from the same family as beans, peas, and lentils. While real nuts grow on trees, peanuts grow in pods that mature underground. The only reason peanuts are associated with “nuts” is because they contain the word “nut” in them. (source 1, 2)
3. White chocolate is not chocolate at all.
In 2018, nearly $1.5 billion worth of white chocolate was consumed. The US, UK, and Brazil alone gobbled up over $700 million worth, or roughly half the total. At over $315 million sold annually, Brazil has by far the world’s largest appetite for white chocolate. While these people love to chow down on white chocolate, rather than dark, the truth is that white chocolate is not real chocolate. It doesn’t look like chocolate or smell like chocolate, but some people still prefer it for some reason.
In reality, white chocolate doesn’t qualify as genuine chocolate because it doesn’t contain chocolate solids (a.k.a. cocoa powder). It is typically made from a blend of cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar and lecithin. (source)
4. A tomato is actually a fruit — but it’s a vegetable at the same time.
It might sound confusing but tomatoes are both a vegetable and a fruit. For decades, tomatoes have been the midst of arguments among people, defining whether they are part of the fruit family or vegetable. At one time, even the Supreme Court got involved. While some teachers refer to them as fruits, others acknowledge them as vegetables. Whatever the case might be, tomatoes are both fruits and vegetables at the same time. The explanation lies in the two different ways that “fruit” is defined.
Scientifically speaking, tomatoes are fruits. Merriam-Webster defines fruits as “the usually edible reproductive body of a seed plant”. By that definition, it includes apples, tomatoes, and anything else that grows from a plant and contains seeds. Meanwhile, vegetables are defined as a wide range of plants whose parts are edible and herbaceous, like roots, stems, and leaves. So, tomatoes are classified as vegetables in culinary terms. The USDA guidelines and many nutritionists also classify them as vegetables. (source)
5. Okra is a fruit, not a vegetable.
Within the past few years, okra has been gaining attention around the world. While it certainly hasn’t had the fortune to be as popular as other fruits or vegetables, it’s certainly gaining popularity. Technically, the okra is not a vegetable, but rather a fruit. The seedy food packed with fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, is one of the most nutritious fruits out there. (source)
6. Chili peppers are also fruits.
Peppers are one of the infamous “fruits that look like a vegetables”. Technically, every kind of pepper, from the bell pepper to the jalapeño, fits the bill as a fruit and not a vegetable. They are the fruits of flowering plants from the nightshade family. While they don’t taste sweet and instead are spicy, chili peppers are fruits most often eaten like a vegetable, but a fruit nonetheless. (source)
7. Strawberries, raspberries or blackberries are not berries.
In the botanical sense, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are not really berries. Since they are derived from a single flower with more than one ovary, they are classified as aggregate fruits. True berries on the other hand are simple fruits stemming from one flower with one ovary and typically have several seeds; such as tomatoes, pomegranates, kiwis and bananas. (source)
8. Grapes however, are berries.
Grapes are one of the oldest cultivated plants but little do most people know that they are classified as true berries. By the formal botanical definition, grapes are considered berries since the firm definition of a berry is a fleshy fruit without a stone that is produced from a single flower containing one ovary. While berries are technically not supposed to have stones within them, some grapes do. This is one of the main reasons as to why most people say that grapes are their own type of simple fruit. (source)
9. Technically, sugarcane is a grass.
Sugarcane is mostly popular in Asian countries, where the cane is crushed to make juice and other sources of food. According to Simon Mattsson’s Nuffield Scholarship report, it is a “perennial C4 deep-rooted grass”. Not only are sugarcanes used to process sugar, but are also grown for biofuel production, especially in Brazil. The sugarcane plant produces a number of stalks that reach 3 to 7 meters (10 to 24 feet) high. Since they are “perennial” grass, there’s no need to plant new sugar billets every year. After each harvest, the plant grows back to full maturity, producing more sugarcanes. (source)
10. An eggplant is not a vegetable, but a berry.
While it’s generally thought of as a vegetable, eggplant is actually a fruit; a berry to be precise. Eggplants have nothing to do with eggs other than their oblong shape, which is where they received the name from. The fruit originated in India and has since been cultivated in India, China and neighboring countries since pre-historical times. (source)
11. Quinoa is a seed, not a grain.
Many people are confused as to whether quinoa is actually a grain or a seed. Although it was once called a grain, quinoa is in fact a seed. According to Craig Morris, director of the USDA ARS Western Wheat Quality Laboratory and former editor-in-chief of Cereal Chemistry, “A grain and a seed are very nearly the same thing, although you can imagine that a tomato seed is not a grain. Once in a while we differentiate that a grain is going to be eaten, whereas a seed is going to be planted (kinda trivial)”. Since we eat quinoa, according to Morris, we can call it a grain without being wrong. (source)