Monday, December 19, 2011
The fruit and vegetables that we eat contain starch, sugar and other foodstuffs that the plants have stored up for their own use. Botanically speaking, fruits are formed from the pollinated flowers of plants. They always contain seeds. The term vegetable is generally used in amore loose way, often simply referring to plants eaten with the main course of the meal. This can cause some confusion. Cucumbers, marrows, peppers and tomatoes are commonly considered vegetables, although to the botanist they are in fact fruits.
Almost juicy fruits are rich in sugar and therefore quite sweet when they are ripe. Some also store starch and oils. These food reserves are not consumed by the plants themselves, but serve to attract animals that eat the flesh and scatter the seed. Most commercial fruits are obtained from trees and shrubs, although some important one, such as strawberries and pineapples, come from herbaceous plants. A few fruits are still gathered mainly from the wild, but the majority is now cultivated in plantations or orchards and, as with the vegetables, many are now larger and tastier than their ancestral forms.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Walnuts, pecans and almonds, for example, are the equivalents of peach or plum stones, and until they fall from the trees they are enclosed in tough, leathery cases that correspond to the flesh of the peach or plum. Even the hard shelled coconuts are also the inner parts of the fruit, although here the outer part is thick and fibrous – it is used for coconut matting. Brazil nuts are actually hard shelled seeds that are obtained from ball shaped woody fruits.
Ground nuts or peanuts are the seeds of a leguminous plant, carried in pods. In all these examples, the parts that we actually eat are the seeds or kernels- the embryonic next generation of plants and their food reserves.