Introduction Vegetables


A - Z list

We refer to all edible parts of plants such as leaves, stems, roots and bulbs or tubers, but also to fruits, as 'vegetables'. Concerning the latter, it is not so easy to define what is a fruit. Botanically, we classify the fruits of annual plants (e.g. the tomato, the squash, the melon) as vegetables, but the fruits of perennial plants as fruits. Vegetables are divided into various groups, i.e. leaf vegetables, fruit vegetables, cabbage vegetables, root vegetables and bulb or tuber vegetables (cf. 'Customary Vegetable Groups in Trade' in the Infobox).

Throughout the year we have a manifold supply of fresh vegetables at our disposal. These are either regional outdoor vegetables according to season, greenhouse vegetables, or vegetables imported from other countries. As with fruit, regional vegetables in season are generally of high quality and especially aromatic. Greenhouse vegetables frequently have an undesirably high nitrate content (cf. 'Harmful Substances 'in the Infobox).

Vegetables consist 80–90% of water; they contain practically no fat and only very few calories but many vitamins, minerals and secondary plant substances. It is precisely these valuable ingredients that can be lost quickly through incorrect and prolonged storage and through improper preparation. Under each type of vegetable you can find the most important nutrients and numerous tips about how best to preserve the vitamins and minerals.

How Vegetables Are Sold

Along with fresh vegetables, deep-frozen vegetables are becoming more and more important. They are cleaned and chopped directly after being harvested, then blanched (i.e. immersed briefly in boiling water) and deep frozen. This preserves the nutrients to a large extent and gives us access to nourishing vegetables even out of season. We must take into consideration, however, that many deep-frozen vegetable products are offered as already prepared dishes, frequently with a large amount of fat. It is better to buy 'pure' deep-frozen vegetables with no additional ingredients and to make them tasty and healthy by preparing them oneself. Tips for healthy preparation can also be found on the pages about the individual vegetables. Preserved vegetables are also sold in jars and tins. In this case the vegetables are also processed directly as they come from the field. Nevertheless, the loss of vitamins is markedly greater than with deep-frozen vegetables, because to be preserved they must be heated to over 100°C. Some types of vegetables, above all white cabbage, cucumbers and green beans, can also be preserved by means of a special method of fermentation, in which an infusion of vinegar and herbs is added. These fermented vegetables undergo a very specific, albeit desired, change in taste, as with sauerkraut or pickled gherkins.