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Is squash a fruit or vegetable?

Botanical and culinary classification of squash

Squash can be a tasty and nutritious addition to your diet, but you may wonder how it should be classified. This article tells you whether squash is a fruit or a vegetable.

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Is squash a fruit or vegetable?
Last updated on August 22, 2023, and last reviewed by an expert on May 22, 2023.

Squash is a family of plants that comes in several different types.

Winter varieties include butternut, acorn, delicata, pumpkin, hubbard, kabocha, and spaghetti squashes. Zucchini and yellow squash with straight or crooked necks are considered summer squashes.

However, squash may be confusing to classify.

Most kinds of squash are brightly colored — like fruit — but taste mild or savory — like vegetables.

This article tells you whether squash is a fruit or a vegetable.

Botanically, squash is a fruit

Fruits contain seeds and develop from the flowers of a plant. On the other hand, vegetables are a plant’s roots, stems, or leaves.

Not everyone agrees with these botanical definitions, but they’re used widely to distinguish between fruits and vegetables.

All types of squash have seeds and come from the flowering part of plants. Edible flowers even grow out of squash and are known as squash blossoms.

Therefore, squash is considered a fruit.

Squash isn’t the only plant that gets confused for a vegetable. Other fruits frequently called veggies include tomatoes, eggplants, avocados, and cucumbers.

Summary: Since squash contains seeds and develops from the flower-producing part of a plant, it is botanically a fruit.

Squash is used as a vegetable in cooking

Most people think squash is a vegetable because it is usually prepared like one.

The culinary definition of a fruit is a plant’s sweet and fleshy part. While some types of squash are mildly sweet, they’re not as sweet as a typical fruit.

Instead, squash has a predominantly earthy flavor and is prepared and served as a vegetable — except when some types, like pumpkin, are used in desserts, such as pie.

Squash is not usually eaten raw, as is fruit, though zucchini and yellow summer squash can be.

It is often seen as a savory ingredient and cooked alongside other vegetables.

Summary: Although squash is botanically a fruit, it is predominantly cooked like a vegetable.

How to add squash to your diet

Squash can be eaten in a multitude of ways. The entire squash plant is edible, including the flesh, skin, leaves, flowers, and seeds.

What's the difference between fruits and vegetables?
Suggested read: What's the difference between fruits and vegetables?

You can find squash year-round in most grocery stores and farmer’s markets.

Winter squashes — butternut, acorn, hubbard, delicata, and pumpkin — are abundant from early fall through late spring. They have green, yellow, or orange skin and brightly colored flesh in shades of yellow and orange.

Summer squash, including zucchini and crookneck, is typically in season from June through September. These varieties have yellow or green skin with white flesh.

Winter squash is often roasted, boiled, or steamed. It is usually served with butter or olive oil and savory seasonings.

You can also add cooked winter squash to salads and soups. Alternatively, try stuffing acorn, delicata, or hubbard squashes with meats, beans, or other vegetables. Winter squash seeds can be roasted with oil and salt for a crunchy snack.

Zucchini and yellow crookneck squash are usually sauteed, roasted, or grilled with olive oil and garlic or added to sweet bread and muffins. As they can be spiralized, they have also become a popular low-carb substitute for noodles.

All types of squash are very nutritious and can be a healthy addition to your diet. Winter squashes are typically high in fiber, vitamin A, and potassium, while summer squashes are rich in B vitamins and vitamin C.

Summary: Squash is available year-round in most places. Winter squash is often served stuffed with other foods or as an addition to soups and vegetable dishes, whereas summer squash is popular in baked goods and as a low-carb noodle alternative.

Summary

Botanically speaking, all types of squash are fruits, as they contain seeds and develop from the flower-producing part of a plant.

Suggested read: Is a tomato a fruit or vegetable?

However — despite notable exceptions, such as pumpkin — squashes are not as sweet as other fruits and are usually prepared and served as you would vegetables.

Regardless of your classification, squash can be a tasty and nutritious addition to your diet.

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