Carrots have a high sugar content and a bright orange color, but are these characteristics enough for them to be considered a fruit? In this article, we will solve the mystery and answer if carrots are fruit or vegetables!
Is carrot a fruit? Vegetables are considered all parts of the plants that do not host seeds (roots, stems, and leaves). Carrot is a vegetable because it is the main root of the carrot plant (just like beets, potatoes, and ginger), has no seeds, and is non-sweet.
Why Is Carrot a Vegetable?
When trying to figure out if a carrot is a fruit or vegetable, we can look at botany, hortology (art and science of gardening), and the culinary arts. These three different fields have their own way of determining if something is a fruit or vegetable.
Why is carrot a vegetable? A carrot is a vegetable because it meets the botanical (any part of the plant that does not host seeds) and horticultural (any food that is produced by a non-woody annual or bi-annual plant) definition of a vegetable and is non-sweet.
Do Botanists Think Carrots Are a Fruit or Vegetable?
A major component of botany is identifying and classifying different plants. To correctly group plants into families and identify related species, botanists come up with a clear method to identify fruits or vegetables.
According to botanists, any part of the plant that has seeds or the capability to host seeds is considered a fruit. Based on this definition, you can quickly identify popular fruits such as apples, watermelons, and mangoes. In contrast, botanists state that all other aspects of the plant that do not feature seeds are plants. This includes leaves, roots, and stems. According to this criteria, the carrot is clearly a vegetable because it is the main root (aka taproot) of the carrot plant and has no seeds.
So even though carrots have a high sugar content and a bright color, just like many fruits, it does not sway the opinion of botanists. Based on botanists’ strict definition, a carrot is a vegetable and can never be considered a fruit. But what do horticulturists and chefs have to say? Keep reading to find out!
Do Horticulturists Think Carrots Are a Fruit or Vegetable?
Horticulturists specialize in growing plants, fruits, and vegetables. These plant experts have their own way of classifying fruits and vegetables. According to horticulturists, fruits come from woody perennial trees that keep coming back year after year. Fruit trees feature woody branches and are not green or soft. In contrast, horticulturists vegetables come from green and soft plants that are annual or bi-annual.
Based on this definition, horticulturists are convinced that a carrot is a vegetable because the carrot plant is bi-annual, does not have a woody stem, and features soft green leafy foliage. Carrots also grow underground, making them a root vegetable; the only fruit that grows above ground is peanuts. So currently, we have botanists and horticulturists firmly placing carrots in the vegetable category, but what does your local chef think? Check out below!
Do Chefs Think Carrots Are a Fruit or Vegetable?
When deciding whether something is a fruit or vegetable, chefs look at flavor profile texture, what it pairs best with, and whether it is an entree or dessert. Based on these criteria, most chefs will say a carrot is a vegetable.
Carrot has a mild savory taste and hard texture, which is similar to other vegetables. Carrots also pair well with meat and other vegetables and are never out of place in a salad. In contrast, fruits tend to be much sweeter and have a smooth texture. Fruits typically appear in desserts.
While carrots do have a lot of sugar compared to other fruits, it is not enough to give them a sweet taste. And while carrots can be used in desserts, they are typically accompanied by a lot of added sugar and other fruits to boost their sugar profile. Fruits like apples and bananas have almost 3x as much sugar as carrots which is why they work so well in desserts but are typically not paired with meat dishes.
A crazy chef who has eaten too much carrot cake may try and claim that a carrot is a fruit. But most will agree, due to a carrot’s savory taste and the fact it pairs well with meat and veggies, that carrot is a vegetable.
How Are Fruits and Vegetables Determined Legally?
Back in 1893, a tricky tomato seller tried to outsmart the government by claiming his tomato imports should be exempt from the vegetable tax because tomatoes were a fruit. The case (Nix v. Hedden, 149 U.S. 304, 1893) went all the way to the Supreme Court and featured botanists and horticulturists explaining that tomatoes, in fact, were a fruit.
Even though the judge conceded that tomatoes were a fruit, based on scientific definitions, he said that due to the public viewing tomatoes as a vegetable, tomatoes would be viewed as a vegetable and still be taxed. So if you were planning on trying to argue that a carrot is a fruit based on some obscure technicality, you wouldn’t be able to fool a judge!
Interesting Facts About Carrots
Carrots are incredibly interesting vegetables consumed all over the world. Let’s look at some interesting carrot facts that will blow your mind!
- The first carrots were brought to America in the 17th century by English settlers.
- China is by far the biggest producer of carrots, with a 20,574,774 tonnes harvest in 2021! In second place is Uzbekistan, with 2,250,559 tonnes.
- The first orange carrot was produced in the Netherlands in the 1600s and was cultivated in honor of the royal family.
- Carrots are 87% water!
- The average person will consume almost 11,000 carrots over their life!
- Holtville, California, has an annual carrot festival, and that’s why it’s often called “The Carrot Capital of the World.”
- Carrots first originated in Central Asia in the mountains of Afghanistan more than 5000 years ago!
- If you eat too many carrots (3 or more per day), the high beta-carotene content can cause your skin to turn orange! This is not a myth!
- Rabbits don’t actually like to eat carrots. Instead, rabbits prefer to eat grass and spend up to 8 hours a day grazing!
- Did you know that 42,814,538 tonnes of carrots were produced worldwide in 2021?
Summing Up The Carrot Mystery
So there we have it: botanists, horticulturists, and chefs all agree that a carrot is a vegetable. It doesn’t matter that carrots are bright orange or have a lot of sugar, their lack of seeds and savory taste, combined with the fact that they are a root, makes them clearly a vegetable!
Is Carrot a Fruit or a Vegetable FAQ
Can a Carrot Be Called a Fruit?
A carrot can not be called a fruit because it does not have seeds and is the root part of a plant. Based on its characteristics, a carrot is clearly a root vegetable.
What Fruit Is Mistaken for a Vegetable?
The most common fruits that people think are vegetables include:
Remember, if it has seeds, then it is a fruit! Fruits also typically grow above ground on woody perennial trees.
What Type of Vegetable Are Carrots?
Carrots are root vegetables. Carrots are the main root of the carrot plant and grow underground. This popular vegetable was first cultivated in Central Asia in 900 AD!
How Many Carrots Can I Eat a Day?
You can eat 1 carrot per day without suffering any negative side effects. According to nutritionists, eating 3 or more carrots a day can lead to an overdose of beta-carotene and cause your skin to turn orange!