Scientists say a fruit is the ovary of a plant after the eggs are pollinated and grow into seeds. Corn grains, cucumbers, bean pods and acorns are fruit as well as apples and so on.
Some fruits, such as oranges, are soft and juicy. The hard pips are the seeds.
With some fruits, such as hazelnuts and almonds, the flesh turns to a hard dry shell. These are known as nuts.
Fleshy fruits are either berries like oranges which are all flesh, aggregate fruits like blackberries which are made from lots of berries from a single flower, or multiple fruits like pineapples which are single fruits made from an entire multiple flowerhead.
Legumes such as peas and beans are soft, dry fruits held in a case known as a pod.
Berries and other juicy fruits are called ‘true fruits’ because they are made from the ovary of the flower alone. Almonds grow in a thin, smooth shell. The almond tree produces two different kinds of fruit: sweet, which is edible, and bitter, which is not.
There are three kinds of cherries — sweet, sour and ‘dukes; which are a sweet-sour cross. We eat mainly sweet cherries like these.
Apples and pears are called ‘false fruits’ because they include parts other than the flower’s ovary.
In an apple only the core is the ovary.
Drupes are fruit like plums, mangoes and cherries with no pips but just a hard stone in the centre containing the seeds. Aggregate fruits like raspberries are clusters of drupes.
Walnuts and dogwood are actually drupes like cherries.
Fruits of temperate regions must have a cool winter to grow properly.
The main temperate fruits are apples, pears, plums, apricots, peaches, grapes and cherries.
Apples were eaten by the earliest Europeans hundreds of thousands of years ago. They were spread through the USA by Indians, trappers and travellers like Johnny Appleseed’ Chapman.
The world picks 32 million tonnes of apples a year, half are eaten fresh and a quarter are made into the alcoholic drink cider. The USA is the world’s leading producer of cider apples.
The world’s most popular pear is the Williams’ Bon Chretien or Bartlett. The best is said to to be the Doyenne du Cornice, first grown in France in 1849.
Pears are the second most important temperate fruit after apples. The leading producer is China.
Peaches are native to China but are now widely grown in southern Europe. Their sweet, fragrant flesh makes them a popular delicacy.
New pear trees are grown not from seeds but by grafting branches on to roots such as those of quinces.
Plums came originally from the Caucasus Mountains in Turkey and Turkey is still the world’s major plum grower. The damson plum came from Damascus.
Plums are dried to make prunes.
The peach is 87% water and has far fewer calories than fruit like apples and pears.
Grapes are grown in vineyards to make wine. Grape-growing or viticulture is described in detail in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs of 2400 B.C..