What is the difference between seeds, grain, nuts, kernels and beans?

What is the difference between seeds, grain, nuts, kernels and beans?

When we started work on our shops spreadsheet we had to categorise and index. It's a boring job but someone had to do it. When trying to work out what Quinoa was I went for a meandering journey online to find definitions for small food substances.

I thought finding the definitions would be relatively simple, that is, until you start thinking about it.

Confusion arises when you consider the context. Botanical definitions or culinary references:

  • Seeds - Embryonic plant covered in a seed coat.

  • Grains -  Often described as hardy seeds, or referred to as seeds that are cultivated for human use. However grains existed long before farming so are in fact just seeds. Plant a grain or a seed and both will grow.

  • Nuts - Fruit consisting an inner part and the shell. However a visit to any pub quiz will yield the fact that a peanut is a legume just like peas are. Once I read this I thought I better start taking notes. If anyone asks me this question in the shop I can refer them to this webpage.

    Other useful (useless) facts are tomatoes are fruits, bananas are herbs and pineapples are oversized berries... (Look squirrel)

  • Kernel - The essential part of the seed. Everything inside the seed wall.

  • Bean - The name given to some leguminous seeds. So what does Leguminous mean I hear you ask? Wait for it ..."relating to or denoting plants of the pea family ( Leguminosae )".

    The word legume most commonly refers to the edible seed pods of these plants (the beans, peas, lentils, and other things that they bear as fruit).

    So we come full circle back to seeds.

    Hope this simplifies things for you. It did me... OK back to spreadsheet... flour.....