Today, did you hear someone say tomatoes and avocados are fruits? Now, you might be confused about which category they belong to. Categorizing food is not always an easy task. Botanists say that nuts such as cashews, almonds and peanuts are not really nuts but are just masqueraded as nuts. But how did we get it wrong? We will discuss everything in depth!
We must talk about how consumers and botanists point of view differ here. If a consumer sees a small, naturally dry and crusty food, we consider them a nut. Talking about a botanist’s point of view, he considers the whole plant. As per their perspective, a botanical nut must be dry, single-seeded, and enclosed in a hard shell. If you think of chestnuts, hazelnuts, or walnuts, the shells do not open on their own and that’s how a true nut should be.
Before we get into the topic, here is what you need to know.
- A seed usually consists of three parts including endosperm, embryo, and seed coat.
- A true botanical nut is a hard-shelled pod that has both the fruit and seed of the plant, in which the fruit does not open to release the seed to the world.
- A drupe is a fruit type that has an outer fleshy part surrounded by a shell( sometimes called pit).
Now, if we talk about peanuts, they have two seeds and are easily breakable which is just an exact opposite of what botanists describe as a nut. But the reason is peanuts grow in a pod and are technically considered a legume, just like soybeans and chickpeas.
Cashews and almonds, on the other hand, are considered seeds inside a drupe. While eating almonds, we remove the outer layer(husk) and eat the seed. Cashews poke out of red, yellow, and green cashew apples that can be found on South American trees. They have a natural layer to neutralize the acid.
Walnuts: This is also considered a part of a drupe. However, the walnuts shells have other benefits in the cosmetic industry.
Brazil Nuts: Brazil nuts can be commonly found in Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, and Brazil. They are neither legumes nor drupes because mostly, they grow inside a single pod.
Coconuts: Coconuts are considered a drupe of unusual size that bears a single seed.
Pistachios: These are also considered drupes but they have got shells that can be easily opened. But this is how we were taught to call almonds and peanuts and we are used to calling them nuts. Changing the categories might lead to confusion now. However, if you want to speak from a botanist point of view, then you may use “almond seeds” or “peanut legumes”