Monday, 18 May 2009

When a fruit is not a fruit

Although both my boys do eat their greens and fruits, each of them has developed a special dislike for a particular type of vegetables or fruits. For example, my elder son loves bitter gourd, while his brother would not eat a tiny portion without screaming 'yucky!' all the way. On the other hand, the younger fellow enjoys the sensation of a juicy cherry tomato bursting in his mouth, the elder boy would always eat it with a huge frown spreading across his brow. Both hate celery and yet would fight for the last slice of Japanese cucumber on the plate.

A couple of months ago, during dinner, when my elder child realised that there were some cherry tomatoes scattered over the bowl of salad, as if to justify his dislike for this fruit, he said with a disgust in his voice, "Mah...mmmyyy, do you know that when we eat tomatoes, we are actually eating the ovaries of the plant?!" I was totally taken aback by that statement, and it really made me paused for a few seconds before I popped one of those juicy fruits inside my mouth ;) You see, it happened that on that day, he learned in class about the reproductive system of a flowering plant. During my time, this topic was only covered when I was in secondary school, but nowadays, the kids are taught way in advance! Indeed, fruits are actually the matured ovaries of plants. However, who will usually associate this 'biological fact' in our daily lives?!

Last week, as usual, at the eleventh hour before his Science exam the next day, I sat down with my boy to go through the subject. Having mastered the 'skills' of passing so many exams over the earlier part of my life, I advised him wisely that it would be important to know the similarities and differences between the functions of the ovary of a plant to that of the human body. Yes, they study the human reproductive system at Primary 5 (equivalent to a 5th grade)! We gained a common understanding that the ovary of a plant protects the ovules (further developed into seeds) as it develops into a fruit, whereas in a human body, the foetus is protected by the uterus. He then asked me, "So, what about strawberries?"

"Strawberries have got seeds on the outside of the fruit, and so, how does fertilisation take place?" he asked me, hoping to get an instant answer. "Oh yes, the strawberries are certainly not doing their jobs to protect the seeds!" I said. I told him, I don't have the answer, so it is best to find out. Thanks to the www, we cleared our doubts with just a few clicks.

It was really interesting to discover that strawberries are technically false fruits! The tiny 'specks' on the outer surface are actually matured ovaries or true fruits. Each single speck or "achene", as they are called, contains a seed that is enclosed and fused by the ovary wall, making it a fruit! The red, fleshy part is actually the enlarged receptacle or the end of the stem on which the flower is borne.

Can you imagine how many 'strawberry fruits' are there on this tart?!

As a bonus, we also learned that by definition, the individual grains of wheat and rice are also technically fruits! It has never been a surprise that I can always learn something new through my kids ;)


Bakeling said...

Hey , are these real or props ?
You take good pictures !

MH said...

Wow! Your tomatoes and strawberries are too beautiful to be eaten! Where did you buy them? I don't seem to see such beautiful fruits around my area... I'm envious ;)

Aimei said...

What a great sharing session! I really learnt something new today! Haa, your boys are so inquisitive. I would never thought of making the connection of the biological facts with that of a fruit/food. :)

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Bakeling, these are real, not props ;)

Hi MH, I usually get cherry tomatoes from NTUC, and the strawberries from Carrefour or HDB fruit stalls.

Hi Aimei, not just my kids...children are all very inquisitive :)

Elyse said...

Oh yes, I remember way back in fifth grade, learning about plant reproduction. I was the child who couldn't stop giggling :) Hope your son's test went well. I love that I learned a new, fascinating fact about strawberries, too! Sorry that I’ve been an absent commenter; I just finished up my law school exams and am finally getting around to my google reader.

Anonymous said...


My eldest boy is also in pri 5 this year but unlike you, i have given up the task of teaching him science and maths, esp science...have delegated the task to his father...thumbs up to u, can cook, bake and also manage to coach your kids!
btw, i am thinking of making some origiri soon but am wondering what side dishes to make to go along with them. what side dishes do u normally add when u make origiri?
thks, octopusmum

Small Small Baker said...

Hi HHB, I'm very delightfully surprised to see that you've grouped some of your best photos together. All look so proffessional and delicious. No wonder you are my favourite blogger! =D

Happy Flour said...

Hi Happy Home Baker,

Very pretty header.:) Can you teach me how to create the photos header. I not good in computer and has been searching and trying but unsuccessful.:(

yuen said...

I read this with my third born last night, he laughed and quizzed his sibling about the strawberry facts
during dinner time...they have fun time discussing it..ha...ha.. thnks! My daughter admire your very well taken pictures too!

Peng said...

Hi HHB...may i know how u arrange the photos to insert as blog banner. I've been trying to do it but till now not successful :(

FAD MOM said...

gosh those were very educational.. i guess my girl will study that soon, having started on Science this year.

as moms, i guess we too learn what they learn when we go through helping them in their work... i think i learn much more now than when i was in pri school!

and your photos are lovely.

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Elyse, thanks for your comment! I am sure you have done well for your exams :)

Hi Octopusmum, you are very lucky :) My husband has always been able to avoid the exam period!
For the side dishes, it really depends on what your kids like...I usually serve it with either a simple veg or fruit salad. I think sausages or hotdogs; karaage or nuggets would go very well too.

HI SSB, I was just playing around with the photos ;)

Hi Yuen, glad to hear that your kids had a fun time :D
Please tell your daughter my photos are all point and shoot ;)

Hi Happy Flour, Peng,
I am nto sure what was the problem you have faced? Here's how I did mine:
I used a free software 'PhotoScape', there is this function "Combine" in this software, I selected the photos and combine them into a single photo. I set the width of the combined photo to fit the width of my bloghead, which is around 700-720 pixels.
You can then go to the Layout page of blogger and add the photo to your blog header.
I hope I didn't confuse you two? Do let me know if you need further details or encounter any problems. I am looking forward to seeing your new blog headers :)

Katherine said...

yea i think i've just learnt something new from your blog too =D

qianqi said...

Hi HHB! I just stumbled upon your blog and I love it! Can't wait to try out some of the recipes :) Oh and very nicely taken photos! You've got yourself a new reader!

Peng said...

Hi HHM...thanks alot!! i got the photoscape, din know can do that!! will try out :)

Peng said...

Hi HHB...sorry to trouble u again :P just now went to explore the photoscape combine u manage to create 2 rows of pic...i insert the pic but comes out in 1 row..

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Peng, look for "Columns" at the bottom right hand corner. Select the no. of columns as desired (I use 7 columns) and u will get 2 rows.

Peng said...

Hi HHM...heee i manage to figure it out! thanks so much

Peng said...

Hi HHM...really feeling like banging my head on the wall u reduce the size to fit the header still showing the title?

Elin Chia said...

I learned something new today..LOL I only know how to cook and eat...never thought further than that. Pop the tomatoes and strawberries into the mouth and no questions asked :) Thanks for the info.


Angel @ Cook.Bake.Love said...


Ur photos are awesome!

Btw, I like ur new blog banner, they are just lovely.

May I know what is the pink colour bread at the right bottom corner? Can you show me the link?

Thank you.

Happy Flour said...

Hi Happy Home Baker,

Thanks for the detail on the photos header. With my hubby help, at last I have a photos header on my blog. Great thanks to you again. :)

Happy Homebaker said...

Hi Cook.Bake.Love, that was a yoghurt bread, I have just placed the link in the side bar, it is posted under "Mixed Berries Yoghurt Bread".

Angel @ Cook.Bake.Love said...


Thanks for your reply. It was the lovely pink colour that catched me attention. :)

What a coincidence. I made a loaf of yogurt bread (modified from the butter loaf recipe) last week using my newly bought bread machine.

chumpman said...

Strawberries are technically false fruits, that's interesting. Learning is a never ending story disregard the age. I learned the word 'cockroach' till I was 18 and I learned it from my primary school students

missy said...

lovely pics u have!!! i see that you also take very good pictures :)