AskDefine | Define vegetables

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. Plural of vegetable.

Extensive Definition

The term "vegetable" generally refers to edible parts of plants. The definition of the word is traditional rather than scientific, and is somewhat arbitrary and subjective, as it is determined by individual cultural customs of cooking and food preparation.
Generally speaking, a herbaceous plant or plant part which is regularly eaten as unsweetened or salted food by humans is considered to be a vegetable. Mushrooms, though belonging to the biological kingdom Fungi, are also generally considered to be vegetables, at least in the retail industry. Nuts, seeds, grains, herbs, spices and culinary fruits (see below), are usually not considered to be vegetables, even though they are all parts of plants. (There are of course numerous exceptions to this, including tomatoes, corn, etc.)
In general, vegetables are regarded by cooks as being suitable for savory or salted dishes, rather than sweet dishes, although there are many exceptions, such as pumpkin pie.
Some vegetables, such as carrots, bell peppers and celery, are eaten either raw or cooked; while others, such as potato, are traditionally eaten only when cooked.

Is it a fruit or a vegetable?

The word "vegetable" is a culinary term, not a botanical term. The word "fruit" on the other hand can be a culinary term or a botanical term, and these two usages are quite different.
Botanically speaking, fruits are fleshy reproductive organs of plants, the ripened ovaries containing one or many seeds. Thus, many botanical fruits are not edible at all, and some are actually extremely poisonous. In a culinary sense however, the word "fruit" is only applied to those botanical fruits which are edible, and which are considered to be a sweet or dessert food such as strawberries, peaches, plums, etc.
In contrast to this, a number of edible botanical fruits, including the tomato, the eggplant, and the bell pepper are not considered to be a sweet or dessert food, are not routinely used with sugar, but instead are almost always used as part of a savory dish, and are salted. This is the reason that they are labeled as "vegetables". Thus a plant part may scientifically be referred to as a "fruit", even though it is used in cooking or food preparation as a vegetable.
The question "The tomato: is it a fruit, or is it a vegetable?" found its way into the United States Supreme Court in 1893. The court ruled unanimously in Nix v. Hedden that a tomato is correctly identified as, and thus taxed as, a vegetable, for the purposes of the 1883 Tariff Act on imported produce. The court acknowledged that botanically speaking, a tomato is a fruit.

A list of vegetables defined as different parts of plants


The word "vegetable" is still sometimes used as an archaic literary term for any plant: vegetable matter, vegetable kingdom. The word comes from the Latin vegetabilis (animated) and from vegetare (enliven), which is derived from vegetus (active), in reference to the process of a plant growing. This in turn derives from the Proto-Indo-European base *weg- or *wog-, which is also the source of the English wake, meaning "not sleep". The word vegetable was first recorded in print in English in the 14th century. The meaning of "plant grown for food" was not established until the 18th century.

In the diet

Vegetables are eaten in a variety of ways, as part of main meals and as snacks. The nutritional content of vegetables varies considerably, though generally they contain a small proportion of protein and fat, and a relatively high proportion of vitamins, provitamins, dietary minerals, fiber and carbohydrates. Many vegetables also contain phytochemicals which may have antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anticarcinogenic properties.


The green color of leafy vegetables is due to the presence of the green pigment chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is affected by pH and changes to olive green in acid conditions, and bright green in alkaline conditions. Some of the acids are released in steam during cooking, particularly if cooked without a cover.
The yellow/orange colors of fruits and vegetables are due to the presence of carotenoids, which are also affected by normal cooking processes or changes in pH.
The red/blue coloring of some fruits and vegetables (e.g. blackberries and red cabbage) are due to anthocyanins, which are sensitive to changes in pH. When pH is neutral, the pigments are purple, when acidic, red, and when alkaline, blue. These pigments are very water soluble.


Many root and non-root vegetables that grow underground can be stored through winter in a root cellar or other similarly cool, dark and dry place to prevent mold, greening and sprouting. Care should be taken in understanding the properties and vulnerabilities of the particular roots to be stored. These vegetables can last through to early spring and be nearly as nutritious as when fresh.
During storage, leafy vegetables lose moisture and vitamin C degrades rapidly. They should be stored for as short a time as possible in a cool place, in a container or plastic bag.
vegetables in Afrikaans: Groente
vegetables in Arabic: خضروات
vegetables in Aragonese: Berdura
vegetables in Asturian: Verdura
vegetables in Bengali: শাক সব্জি
vegetables in Min Nan: Chhài-se
vegetables in Belarusian: Агародніна
vegetables in Bavarian: Gmias
vegetables in Bosnian: Povrće
vegetables in Bulgarian: Зеленчукови култури
vegetables in Catalan: Verdura
vegetables in Czech: Zelenina
vegetables in Welsh: Llysieuyn
vegetables in Danish: Grøntsag
vegetables in German: Gemüse
vegetables in Spanish: Verdura
vegetables in Esperanto: Legomo
vegetables in Basque: Barazki
vegetables in Persian: گیاه
vegetables in French: Légume
vegetables in Gan Chinese: 菜
vegetables in Korean: 채소
vegetables in Croatian: Povrće
vegetables in Indonesian: Sayur
vegetables in Icelandic: Grænmeti
vegetables in Italian: Verdura
vegetables in Hebrew: ירק
vegetables in Javanese: Sayur
vegetables in Georgian: ბოსტნეული კულტურები
vegetables in Swahili (macrolanguage): Mboga za majani
vegetables in Latin: Holus
vegetables in Lithuanian: Daržovės
vegetables in Limburgan: Greunte
vegetables in Hungarian: Zöldség
vegetables in Macedonian: Зеленчук
vegetables in Malayalam: പച്ചക്കറി
vegetables in Malay (macrolanguage): Sayur
vegetables in Dutch: Groente
vegetables in Dutch Low Saxon: Greunte
vegetables in Japanese: 野菜
vegetables in Norwegian: Grønnsak
vegetables in Norwegian Nynorsk: Grønsak
vegetables in Narom: Lédgeunme
vegetables in Low German: Grööntüüch
vegetables in Polish: Warzywa
vegetables in Portuguese: Hortaliça
vegetables in Romanian: Legumă
vegetables in Quechua: Yuyu
vegetables in Russian: Овощи
vegetables in Northern Sami: Ruotnasat
vegetables in Sicilian: Virdura
vegetables in Simple English: Vegetable
vegetables in Slovak: Zelenina
vegetables in Slovenian: Zelenjava
vegetables in Serbian: Поврће
vegetables in Serbo-Croatian: Povrće
vegetables in Finnish: Vihannes
vegetables in Swedish: Grönsaker
vegetables in Tamil: காய்கறி
vegetables in Thai: ผัก
vegetables in Vietnamese: Rau
vegetables in Turkish: Sebze
vegetables in Ukrainian: Овоч
vegetables in Yiddish: גרינצייג
vegetables in Contenese: 菜
vegetables in Samogitian: Daržuovė
vegetables in Chinese: 蔬菜
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1