Some truly great debates out there will have people bickering over them for centuries to come. Debates like what came first, the chicken or the egg? Is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? But one of the greatest debates of all concerns coconuts. Are coconuts a fruit or a nut? This question has brought families to the brink of war at the dinner table and caused untold havoc among friendships. We’re here to set the record straight and determine once and for all, whether the coconut is a nut or a fruit.
Why Are Coconuts So Hard to Classify?
The coconut is a tough nut to crack, and although it certainly shares some distinct similarities with the nut family, it’s not a nut at all! Coconuts share some unique characteristics with nuts like the fact that they’re protected by a hard outer shell that has to be cracked open to eat. On the other hand, how we eat coconuts is quite similar to how we eat most fruits. This conundrum has been a matter of contention for many years. One of the most dividing elements of the debate is the general perspective. Do we classify coconuts from a culinary perspective or a biological one? The camp that you find yourself aligned with will characterize what you think of coconuts and how you would expect them to be classified.
It’s a Nut! It’s a Fruit! It’s a… Drupe?
If you want to get technical, the coconut isn’t a fruit or a nut, it’s a drupe, which is known as a stone fruit. What the devil is a drupe or a stone fruit you ask? It’s just another classification, one that happens to include peaches, nectarines, blackberries, and even raspberries! From the Food and Drug Administration’s point of view, coconuts are a form of tree nut, and tree nuts are required to be labeled as such to prevent allergic reactions but not coconuts. Confused yet? The fruit-nut debate of the all-mysterious coconut runs deep. Although the answer might seem extremely obvious to some, it remains elusive to many. For those of you with nut allergies, you’ll be relieved to know that remarkably few people with nut allergies have any sort of adverse reaction to coconuts. Even if you have an allergy to tree nuts, odds are, you can tolerate it. Coconuts don’t pose the same kind of danger to folks with nut allergies as peanuts, those are the real villains!
So, What Is a Coconut Again?
With all of the technical jargon and quasi-scientific mumbo jumbo, it’s hard to settle on exactly what a coconut is. After reviewing the facts, the exact nature of the coconut remains somewhat vague. Here’s the rundown on the coconut. Although it has a hard nut-like exterior, it is not a nut in any way, shape, or form. Coconuts are considered to be a type of fruit, but because the fruit isn’t specific enough for our scientific friends, it’s given the technical name of a drupe or stone fruit. What does all of this mean? For one thing, it means that the next time you find yourself arguing with friends or family over the exact classification of coconuts, you can confuse them by throwing out the word drupe. It also means that most people who have an allergy to nuts, don’t have one to coconuts. Finally, it means that you’ll win that argument once and for all!
Go Nuts for Coconuts!
Now that you are a coconut expert it’s time to get out there and start enjoying the delicious little drupes as well as all of the healthy and delightful coconut-based products like coconut milk and coconut chips!
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