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Vegetable market

Vegetables (mhd. Gemüese , original meaning: Mus from food crops) is now a generic term for edible parts of plants growing wild or in culture Taken plants. Mostly they are leaves, tubers, stems or roots of annual or biennial herbaceous plants that are eaten raw, cooked or preserved. In contrast to plants or parts of plants, which are mainly used because of their reserve materials ( carbohydrates , protein and fats ) and are therefore the basic food in human nutrition , vegetables are consumed as complementary food mainly because of their content of vitamins , minerals and secondary plant substances . Vegetables are tasty and low in calories. In addition, vegetables have an important function for digestion due to their high fiber content .

Dry seeds such as peas or lentils and grains do not count as vegetables. Parts of plants that are used as vegetables and spices , such as peppers or onions , are only considered vegetables if they are a recognizable main component of the meal.

Differentiation between fruits and vegetables

The distinction between fruit and vegetables is not clear, it is based on culture.

In Germany there are different definitions, some of which contradict each other:

  • In contrast to fruit, vegetables are usually annual or only pregnant once (definition of food).
  • According to the botanical definition, fruit vegetables are fruits and according to the food definition vegetables.
    Example: Pumpkins arise from pollinated flowers (botanical definition: fruit) of annual plants (food definition: vegetables).
  • While fruit is usually consumed raw, vegetables are usually boiled or otherwise prepared before consumption . This meaning was also the basis of the Middle High German term vegetable : Mus is “cooked porridge” made from all kinds of useful plants .
  • Fruit is characterized by a pleasant, usually sweet or sour taste when raw, while vegetables are generally prepared with spices etc.


Field vegetables are a collective term for vegetables that are grown in the open air. This type of cultivation is in contrast to horticultural vegetable cultivation, in which work is carried out in glass houses, foil tunnels or similar protected areas. Field vegetables include: cabbage, salads , onions , cucumbers , asparagus , carrots , parsley , beets and the like. v. a.

According to the harvest times , a distinction is made between early vegetables , summer vegetables , autumn vegetables , winter vegetables and permanent vegetables . In the past, this classification was very important for cultivation planning and nutrition. Due to the growing of vegetables in greenhouses and the international year-round trade, their importance has decreased significantly.

According to fruit ripeness and consumption, a distinction is made between fresh vegetables and stored vegetables . This distinction has also lost its importance due to further processing and food preservation . For example, perishable vegetables can be kept fresh by freezing or canning them.

In the European Union, vegetables are also divided into two groups in order to make them as comparable as possible in terms of price and production:

  • Coarse vegetables have a firm cell wall structure. They include vegetables like white cabbage, red cabbage, savoy cabbage, kale, late carrots, celery, broad beans, and also most winter vegetables.
  • In contrast to coarse vegetables, fine vegetables have a fine cell wall structure. This includes vegetables such as early carrots, tomatoes, spinach, salsify, yacon or asparagus.

Marketing and quality standards

In order to guarantee consistent quality in vegetables in the trade, they are subject to certain marketing standards and must be labeled accordingly.

Minimum requirements

In addition to special standards for sweet peppers, salads, curly endive, escarole and tomatoes, all types of vegetables must meet the following minimum properties of the general marketing standard:

  • Intactness (no major damage)
  • Health (no putrefaction or disease)
  • Cleanliness (free of dirt or residues of treatment agents)
  • Freshness (no wilt )
  • no pest infestation (e.g. maggots , mites or aphids )
  • no damage from pests (feeding or puncture sites)
  • no unusual external moisture (condensation is permitted)
  • Odor and taste fastness (no foreign smell or taste)
  • Maturity (the vegetables must be sufficiently developed)

Quality classes

In addition to the minimum requirements, there are three quality subdivisions:

  • Class extra: highest quality, no defects in shape and color, practically free of defects or sometimes only very small superficial defects,
  • Class I: good quality, shape, development and color typical of the variety; Slight errors in terms of shape, development and color as well as slight skin defects are permitted,
  • Class II: marketable quality, small defects in shape and color, a variety-typical expression of the characteristics is not required, the minimum properties must be observed. The goods must not spoil and be edible.


Sales booth at the main market in Nuremberg

Vegetables are marketed as fresh vegetables (untreated, unprocessed vegetables), frozen vegetables, canned vegetables, glassware vegetables, in oiled or vinegar, or fermented pickled vegetables and dried vegetables. A distinction is sometimes made between fresh vegetables and “freshly harvested vegetables”, although “freshness” is not defined in Germany and the EU.

Frozen vegetables

Frozen vegetables have been available in Germany since 1937. This was made possible by the development of cooling technology . Since then, fresh vegetables can be preserved for a long period of time without the addition of preservatives . The first frozen vegetables on Germany's retail market was spinach . Today the offer is much more varied and ranges from simple peas to Asian vegetable mixes. The advantage is that the nutrients or vitamins are preserved over a long period of time by the cold and only lose little weight, much less than, for example, vegetables stored in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for three days.

In a study by nutritionists of the University of Hamburg fresh vegetables was and frozen vegetables in different processing, storage and preparation stages on their nutritional value and their sensory examined for. The nutritionists found that many important nutrients, such as vitamin C , were highly retained in the freezer after four months, while in certain vegetables they decreased rapidly when stored at both 4 ° C and 20 ° C.


Root vegetables such as carrots, beetroot and potatoes were traditionally stored in unheated cellars, which were often quite damp, as they usually had no special seal against the ground (see also earth cellar ). Ventilation openings to the outside ensured that cold air could get into the basement in winter and that the temperature remained low. In summer there was only a small amount of air exchange, as the air in the basement was colder than the surrounding air and therefore there was no buoyancy. This limited the humidification of the cellar through the formation of condensation when warm, humid outside air came into contact with the cold cellar walls. Occasionally, it is recommended to keep carrots, parsnips, and beetroot in sand-filled boxes.

Eggplants, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes are sensitive to cold and should not be stored at refrigerator temperatures of 4 to 8 degrees Celsius, but at 8 to 12 degrees.

See also


  • Karl Herrmann: vegetables and long-life vegetables. (= Basics and advances in food research, Volume 11). Parey, Berlin / Hamburg 1969.

Web links

Commons : Vegetables  album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Vegetables  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b password groceries. 3. Edition. aid infodienst e. V. , 2010, ISBN 978-3-8308-0935-7 .
  2. Christoph Drösser: Right? Aren't tomatoes a vegetable but a fruit? In: Die Zeit , No. 24/2012.
  3. Leaflet for the marketer of fresh fruit and vegetables. Lower Saxony State Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety, May 2017; (PDF; 115 kB) accessed on January 24, 2019.
  4. Fruit and vegetables - quality criteria. Lower Saxony State Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety. At, accessed on January 24, 2019.
  5. Matthias Sebastian Berger: Changes in selected quality parameters in peas, beans and carrots during various fresh and frozen storage conditions . ( Memento of the original from September 23, 2015 in the Internet Archive ; PDF) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Dissertation, Munich 2006; Retrieved June 1, 2012. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. Andrea Maaßen, Helmut F. Erbersdobler, Mechthild Busch-Stockfisch: Preservation of the sensory quality of fresh and frozen vegetables with different storage . In: Nutrition review . tape 53 , no. 10 , October 2006, p. 390–394 ( [PDF]).
  7. Instructions for use Bosch fridge-freezer, 2012