What Your Favorite Foods Look Like Before Harvest And Processing

Published February 20, 2017
Updated July 10, 2018

From bananas to coffee to chocolate, you'd never guess what some of your favorite foods look like while still plants.

Banana Blossom

Banana Flower
The banana fruits that we eat grow on a stem above a large inflorescence (flower cluster), with the entire hanging stem capable of weighing more than 100 pounds. Pixabay

Cashew Fruits

Cashew Yellow
Inside the green shell growing out of the yellow tree fruit pictured here are the edible seeds that we know as cashew nuts.Wikimedia Commons

Black Pepper Fruits

Black Pepper
The fruits of this flowering vine are plucked, dried, and crushed to make the ubiquitous spice.Scott Nelson/Flickr

Coffee Flowers

Coffee Flowers
The flowers of the Coffea plant are often forgotten in favor of its berries...Wikimedia Commons

Coffee Berries

Coffee Fruit
Seeds (known as beans) are extracted from these berries, then processed in a number of ways including washing, fermenting, and roasting to produce what we know as coffee beans.Wikimedia Commons

Cacao Pods

Cacao Pods
The fruit pod of the cacao tree contains a sweet pulp as well as seeds (beans) are processed — including drying, fermenting, and roasting — in order to ultimately become chocolate.YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/Getty Images

Asparagus Shoots

Asparagus Growing
Asparagus shoots grow straight up out of the ground and are harvested before they can grow into a large flowering plant, the berries of which are poisonous to humans.Pixabay

Pineapple Plant

Pineapple Plant
The pineapple, a berry of the Ananas comosus plant, is actually a multiple fruit: a cluster of fruiting flowers that mature into a single mass. Chris H/Flickr

Saffron Flowers

Saffron Flowers
The edible red stamen (pictured) of the saffron flower is plucked and dried to become one of the world's costliest culinary items, with prices reaching more than $1,500 per pound, making it sometimes more valuable than gold.BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

Artichoke Flower

Artichoke Flower
We harvest the edible, green, scale-like buds of the artichoke plant before they've flowered.Pixabay

Peanut Pods

Peanut Plant
Unlike most other plants, the seed pods of the Arachis hypogaea plant —which contain peanuts — grow underground and are pulled out along with the roots in order to harvest.Wikimedia Commons

Cinnamon Tree

Cinnamon Tree
First, farmers cut the stems of the cinnamon tree. Then, they wait for new shoots to grow up from the site, at which point they harvest them, scrape off the outer bark, loosen the inner bark with a hammer, and finally dry and grind that wet inner bark into a powder.Sandor Weisz/Flickr

Almond Tree Flowers

Almond Flower
Almonds grow on a flowering tree found in warm, dry climates including the Middle East, California, and North Africa...RAYMOND ROIG/AFP/Getty Images

Almond Fruit

Almond Tree
Those trees produce a drupe fruit (pictured), which contains a hard shell that surrounds its seed. It's this seed (the almond is a seed, not a true nut) that we eat.Wikimedia Commons

Kiwifruit Vines

Kiwi Flowers
In addition to light-colored flowers, these woody vines produce the edible berries we call kiwi.Wikimedia Commons

Caper Flower

Caper Flower
Both the buds and (more commonly) berries known as capers come from this flowering plant found across several continents.Wikimedia Commons

Chickpea Pods

Chickpea Pods
These pods of the Cicer arietinum plant contain the seeds we know as chickpeas.Wikimedia Commons

Pistachio Fruits

Pistachio Tree
The drupe fruit of the pistachio tree is hulled and dried before its edible seeds are finally removed.Wikimedia Commons

Vanilla Flowers

Vanilla Flower
The pods of the flowering orchid vines in the Vanilla genus contain seeds that are used as a flavoring on their own. Otherwise, the pods themselves are macerated with water and alcohol in order to produce vanilla extract.Pixabay

Celery Stalk

While we often focus solely on the celery plant's stalks, its leaves are in fact edible as well.edibleoffice/Flickr

Wasabi Roots

Wasabi Stem
The stems of the flowering wasabi plant are either grated or dried and ground into powder to produce the condiment common in Japanese cooking.Wikimedia Commons


Sugar Cane
Sugarcane is actually a grass that produces several stems, which mature into hardened cane stalks. It's these stalks that contain sucrose to be milled and refined into sugar.Wikimedia Commons

Sesame Pods

Sesame Capsule
The edible seeds are found within the pods (or "buns") of the flowering sesame plant, which was first domesticated by human farmers more than 3,000 years ago.Wikimedia Commons

Paprika Fruits

Made from the same plant, Capsicum annuum, that produces bell peppers, paprika is made by air drying the plant's fruits and then grinding them down.Pressebereich Dehner Garten-Center/Flickr

Mango Trees

Mango Purple
Mango trees can grow to more than 100 feet tall and produce fruit even after growing to 300 years old.Wikimedia Commons

Leek Blossom

Leek Flower
Below flowers like these are the leaf sheaths (not stalks or stems, as is commonly thought) that we call leeks.Pixabay

Brussels Sprout Stalks

Brussels Sprouts Plant
The stalks from which Brussels sprouts grow to about four feet in length.Steel Wool/Flickr

Every morning, you drink a cup of coffee and likely think nothing of the 70 or so beans that went into that one cup or the hours that those beans spent drying, fermenting, and roasting. Surely, you likewise don't think the fact that, before any of that processing, your cup of coffee started out as bright red berries on a medium-sized flowering plant.

Whether coffee, chocolate, bananas, or any of our other favorites, seldom do any of us think about where our food and drinks originally come from, or even what they looks like in their original state.

Did you know, for example, that cashews sit inside a seed pod at the base of a large yellow fruit? Did you know that black pepper starts out as vibrant orange and green berries? See these foods and more before harvest in the eye-opening gallery above.

Next, have a look at some of the grossest foods from around the globe and the world's coolest food art.

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John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.