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Are Cucumbers a Fruit?

Cucumbers are a member of the gourd, or cucurbitaceae, family of plants. People often eat them in savory dishes, such as salad and pickles. Botanically speaking, however, they are fruits.

Cucumbers are one of the most popular produce items grown and sold around the world. You’re probably well acquainted with their crisp crunch and mild, fresh flavor. However, you may wonder to which food group cucumbers belong. This article clears up whether cucumbers are fruits or vegetables.

What is a Cucumber?

Formally known by their scientific name Cucumis sativus, cucumbers are a member of the gourd, or Cucurbitaceae, family of plants. They originated in various parts of Southeast Asia but are currently grown all over the world. Size and color can vary considerably depending on the variety, but cucumbers are best known for their long, cylindrical shape and bright green skin. The most popular kinds are categorized into two groups: slicing cucumbers and pickling cucumbers.

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Botanically, Cucumbers Are Fruits

Though many people think of cucumbers as vegetables, the scientific definition indicates that they’re a type of fruit. In botany, fruits allow a flowering plant to reproduce. A fruit is formed from the ovary that exists within the flower and houses the seeds that will eventually grow into new plants. Cucumbers grow from flowers and contain dozens of seeds that may be used to cultivate future generations of cucumber plants. This basic function is what makes them fruits — not vegetables — according to science.

Culinarily, Cucumbers Are Vegetables

The culinary definition of a fruit or vegetable is usually based on flavor profile, texture, and the best applications within a particular dish. Cucumbers fall somewhere in the middle, although they’re far more likely to be used as a vegetable. The crisp texture, mild taste of the inner flesh, and slightly bitter flavor of the skin lend themselves well to a wide variety of savory recipes. Cucumbers are usually considered a vegetable because of how they’re used in the culinary world.

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Are cucumbers a healthy option?

Yes, cucumbers are low in calories, carbs, and fat, making them a viable option for almost any diet. They provide a very satisfying and refreshing crunch to a variety of dishes and are rich in several unique plant compounds, such as cucurbitacins and cucumegastigmanes, which have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

What are some culinary uses for cucumbers?

Cucumbers make for an excellent, easy-to-prepare addition to traditional tossed or fruit salads, and many don’t even want to imagine a world without pickles. They also work well in dishes like tabbouleh, yogurt dip, or fresh salsa. Though it’s most often eaten fresh, don’t be afraid to cook with cucumber, too. It works well in stir-fries or even sautéed by itself and topped with fresh herbs and a little salt and pepper.

What are some beauty uses for cucumbers?

Cucumbers not only make for a crunchy snack but also work well in homemade cosmetic and beauty applications. Placing slices of cucumber over your eyes can reduce swelling and help revive puffy, tired-looking eyes. Cucumber can also be added to homemade face masks and hair treatments for added moisture and a fresh scent.

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