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In a recent trip to my local supermarket with the intention of purchasing items for a fruit salad, I picked up some oranges, bananas, lemons, grapefruit, and a few other select fruits. This got me thinking, what's stopping me from including tomatoes, since they are in fact a fruit? Are they just considered in practice to also be a vegetable, similar to wave-particle duality in that a photon exhibits properties of a wave and a particle?

If I were to make a fruit salad including tomatoes, what considerations should I use when determining how to go about it? Would it make sense to use the fruit ingredients I listed, and if so why or why not? Are there other fruits that particularly complement the flavors of tomatoes or are complimented by them?

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I'm not going to close this but I have to be honest, the question seems a bit frivolous, it's just quibbling over taxonomy. Even if tomatoes weren't a fruit, there's no rule saying that fruit salads must contain only fruit. Google fruit salad recipe and the top result includes marshmallows and peanuts. –  Aaronut Dec 10 '10 at 18:31
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@Aaronut - as a question about using tomatoes in a fruit salad I think it can be kind of interesting. Michael's answer points out that it could be kind of challenging to take the standard idea of a fruit salad and add tomatoes, and I agree. –  justkt Dec 10 '10 at 18:42
    
I don't see what's frivolous about doing a sanity check with the experts before experimenting by throwing some cherry tomatoes into the bowl before serving it to guests. I may have used some frivolous verbiage, but it's Friday and I'm just trying to liven up my post! :) –  Frank Pierce Dec 10 '10 at 18:44
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knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put them in a fruit salad... –  Sam Holder Dec 10 '10 at 19:47
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@Frank - Don't experiment on your guests, experiment on yourself. –  uncle brad Dec 11 '10 at 0:47

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I have eaten a salad that included watermelon, tomatoes, feta and black olives. I thought it was... ok, not earth shattering. Also I made this Cherry/Tomato bite, which is in that genre, and certainly was interesting from a taste perspective. There are no rules, you can do whatever you like, you just have to determine if it will taste good. Personally I don't think I'd like tomatoes in a "standard" fruit salad.

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Many Asian countries use watermelon as a savoury flavour, can't say it was ever that good though? It's just like sweet cucumber –  TFD Dec 10 '10 at 20:48
    
Following on that thought, here is a salad where I did use watermelon as a counterpoint to savory ingredient: herbivoracious.com/2008/09/thai-style-sala.html –  Michael at Herbivoracious Dec 12 '10 at 7:11
    
very interesting post on your blog there, especially Fenke's response regarding the combination of tomato and watermelon. See, I am not entirely crazy for thinking that this could work! Unfortunately, when I actually tried it out, I used fairly standard fruit salad ingredients (grapes, watermelon, pineapple, cherries, blueberries, with the addition of tomatoes) and I'll admit, it wasn't very good. I took uncle brad's advice and tried it on myself in a small bowl and I just left out the cherry tomatoes in the end. Thanks for the responses! –  Frank Pierce Dec 14 '10 at 18:36

FoodPairing suggests raspberries, mangoes, and strawberries as appropriate complements from the fruit group, as well as basil and peppermint for herbs and clementine peel oil for oil.

The clementine peel oil is the closest thing to citrus that appears, and I can see why. Think of the taste of tomato with the taste of the fruits you listed. Would you enjoy it? If you would, go ahead and play around with it.

If I were you and I was very attached to the tomato in fruit salad idea, I'd try some of the selects from FoodPairing or watermelon, or perhaps other berries. Seems like some of those flavors would work quite a bit better.

And to answer your question about tomatoes - I'd say they are in practice used as a vegetable so often that I've seen them classified that way by the official U. S. food pyramid website.

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It's easy - fruits have seeds, vegetables don't. There is nothing to argue about. It's just that we are used to something, it's hard to change

e.g. Pumpkin is a fruit, many Americans enjoy pumpkin as a sweet desert

Tomato dusted with powdered sugar instead on salt and left to sit a while take on an intense fruity flavour. I often ditch the seeds for presentation as they just get messy

Try a light dusting of fresh ground/powdered juniper berry, especially if you are adding some alcoholic beverage to the dressing

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I think it is worth remembering that there are a huge variety of tomatoes grown in the world and some of them are really very sweet and might be able to pass in certain fruit salad blends.

But overcoming the expectation factor with regard to them is quite tricky. Particularly as tomatoes contain quite high levels of glutamic acid (umami), which means fighting the inherent savoury quality.

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+1 - Interesting point about the expectation factor... it's what ultimately led me to ask this question! –  Frank Pierce Dec 14 '10 at 18:38

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