Amusing Gemüse: How to Say 30+ Vegetables in German
Do you have Tomaten auf dem Augen (tomatoes on your eyes) when it comes to your German food vocabulary?
In other words, are you wearing the proverbial “rose-tinted glasses” (or in this case, Tomaten) when it comes to your knowledge about German food expressions?
When learning German, it’s easy to get overwhelmed—especially in the beginning. While you’re focusing on tricky German grammar and phrases for traveling through a German-speaking city or region, certain vocabulary topics can slip under the rug.
And you might not notice until a Kellner (waiter) asks you, “Was darf es sein?” (what would you like?) whiling sitting at a table in a German restaurant.
Learning food words in any language is crucial to a well-rounded vocabulary.
While food can be learned in beginner stages, holes often appear later on and often go unnoticed until those specific food words are crucial to communicating or understanding either a recipe or a menu.
These holes need to be identified and filled during intermediate stages.
What’s one of the biggest holes in beginner vocabulary?
Vegetables, or das Gemüse as they’re known in German.
It turns out that vegetables aren’t just food that small children don’t want to eat—they’re also often forgotten about when learning a language.
But vegetables are a huge chunk of German food vocabulary! Knowing them is useful for cooking, particularly German dishes, and going to markets, supermarkets and restaurants.
How to Practice Vegetables in German
Don’t just memorize a list of vegetables in German and expect to be able to recall their meanings later on. Instead, try learning German vegetables in context and practicing them often!
One of the best ways to learn vegetables in context (aside from traveling to a German-speaking place) is to hear them used in authentic German content.
ToLearnFree also offers German vegetable practice. You can start by unscrambling the letters to common German vegetables or doing a fill-in-the-blanks exercise with both German fruits and vegetables.
Sporcle has two quizzes for practicing German vegetables: one includes choosing the correct German translation for the shown English vegetable, and the other includes clicking on the correct picture based on the German word shown.
Digital Dialects also has an interactive Flash quiz that allows learners to practice vegetables with written texts or German audio.
Gemüse auf Deutsch (Vegetables in German)
Now that we know the best way to learn German vegetables, let’s actually look at what these yummy foodstuffs are called.
Keep in mind, however, that das Gemüse is uncountable in German. That means that it’s written and said as das Gemüse in both singular and plural.
In other words, when you’re referring to one vegetable, it’s called das Gemüse. For example, you might ask,
“Welches Gemüse passt zu Fisch?” (What vegetable goes with fish?)
When referring to multiple vegetables or vegetables as a whole, you use this same form, even though it feels like it should be plural in English (and thus take the plural article die (the)).
das Gemüse gefällt mir (I like vegetables.)
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s look at the stars of the show—das Gemüse themselves!
But just one final note: remember that German words that start with der (the) are masculine, words that start with die (the) are feminine and words that start with das (the) are neuter.
der Salat / der Kophsalat (Lettuce)
Plural Form: die Salate / die Kopfsalate
There’s little difference between these two words. They both mean “lettuce,” but der Kophsalat has more of a “head of lettuce” meaning because of the word Kopf (head).
Der Salat also means “salad” in German.
die Tomate (Tomato)
Plural Form: die Tomaten
Remember our idiomatic expression from earlier on? Tomaten auf dem Augen haben (to have tomatoes on one’s eyes) means “to be unaware that something is happening.”
This can apply to situations like when you don’t notice your lover’s new haircut or a coworker doesn’t realize that they’ll soon be fired.
der Blumenkohl (Cauliflower)
Plural Form: die Blumenkohle
This word is literally translated as “flowering cabbage.” It’s quite a colorful description, but I sure am happy that cauliflower tastes nothing like cabbage!
der Brokkoli (Broccoli)
Plural Form: die Brokkoli / die Brokkolis
This can also be spelled Broccoli in German. In some German-speaking households in North America, there’s an apparent “German-style” broccoli dish with bacon and mustard.
die Karotte / die Möhre (Carrot)
Plural Form: die Karotten / die Möhren
Die Karotte is the general, most-used word for “carrot” in German.
In the north of Germany, some speakers call carrots die Möhre. They’re also called gelbe Rübe in southern Germany, with gelbe meaning “yellow” and Rübe meaning “turnip.”
Both of these regions will understand die Karotte, of course, but you might see these two variations on labels and in daily conversations.
der Sellerie (Celery)
Plural Form: die Sellerie
This word was borrowed from the French word céleri (celery.) Germans also eat Sellerieknolle (celery root) which is sometimes called “celeriac” in English.
Both Sellerie and Sellerieknolle can be combined with apples and beef broth for a tasty German-style salad.
der Spinat (Spinach)
Plural Form: die Spinate
This word was borrowed from the Italian word spinace (spinach). Germany is famous for its creamed spinach.
der Lauch (Leek)
Plural Form: die Lauche
Germans are quite fond of leeks with many different varieties cultivated in Germany. In fact, Germans love putting leeks in soups. Namely, cheese and leek soup!
die Erbse (Pea)
Plural Form: die Erbsen
Peas are apparently the most produced grain legume in Germany! They’re common in soups as well as on their own with some butter and onion.
der Gartenkürbis (Marrow) / die Zucchini (Zucchini)
Plural Form: die Gartenkürbisse / die Zucchini
Like in English, there are a few ways to say this vegetable in German. Gartenkürbis literally translates to “garden pumpkin,” and it most accurately translates to a marrow, which is a type of immature zucchini (also known as a courgette in the United Kingdom).
die Aubergine (Aubergine) / die Eierfrucht (Eggplant)
Plural Form: die Auberginen / die Eierfrüchte
It turns out there are two ways to say this vegetable too! Eierfrucht is the literal translation of “egg fruit.”
der Paprika (Pepper) / die Paprikaschote (Bell pepper)
Plural Form: die Paprikas / die Paprikaschoten
As in English, these two words are pretty interchangeable. However, they aren’t to be confused with the spice der Pfeffer (pepper).
die Chilischote (Chili Pepper)
Plural Form: die Chilischoten
These are also known as Peperoncino (their native Italian name). Germans add chilischote to dishes much the same way the rest of the world does—to give the dish some heat!
der Kohl (Cabbage)
Plural Form: die Kohle
Ah, there it is. It’s not my favorite, but it’s a crucial ingredient to the German’ beloved Sauerkraut.
der Knoblauch (Garlic) / die Knoblauchzehe (Clove of Garlic)
Plural Form: die Knoblauchezehen (Cloves of Garlic)
In German, this vegetable is a type of Lauch (leek). Knoblauch is added to a wide variety of dishes, particularly in German Bierocks (meat turnovers).
die Zwiebel (Onion)
Plural Form: die Zwiebeln
The Germans also say die Schalotte to say “shallot.” While odd, Germany is famous for its Zwiebelkuchen (Onion Pie).
die Kartoffel (Potato)
Plural Form: die Kartoffeln
It’s been said that the Germans have a “love affair” with potatoes. They’re often made as a side to meat dishes and can be fried, baked, boiled or roasted.
die Süßkartoffel (Sweet Potato)
Plural Form: die Süßkartoffeln
This word comes from the joining of two words: Süß (sweet) and kartoffel. They’re commonly baked or cubed and cooked for salads.
die Rübe (Turnip)
Plural Form: die Rüben
Karotten and Rüben are related, and their names are almost interchangeable in German-speaking regions. If you’re looking for turnip, however, make sure to only use the word Rübe.
die Gurke (Cucumber)
Plural Form: die Gurken
The German language shares the same origin of this word with the British gherkin. Cucumbers are widely grown in southern Germany, and they’re the fourth most consumed vegetable there.
der Mais (Corn)
This word comes from the Spanish word maíz, and the first instances of corn were brought to Europe from North America. Germany is now one of the biggest producers of corn in Europe.
der Spargel (Asparagus)
Plural Form: die Spargel
Asparagus has a very special place in German cuisine. The Germans even have entire festivals around the cultivation and consumption of it!
Spargelzeit is the time of the year when asparagus is harvested and eaten. Weißspargel (white asparagus) is preferred over Grünspargel (green asparagus).
die Bohne (Bean)
Plural Form: die Bohnen
You can also say Kaffeebohne in German to refer to a coffee bean. There are many types of beans to choose from, such as the grüne Bohne (green bean), Limabohne (lima bean) and Kidneybohne (kidney bean).
die Sojabohne (Soybean)
Plural Form: die Sojabohnen
Soybeans aren’t native to Germany. Instead, they were brought from East Asia in the 1600s.
die Avocado (Avocado)
Plural Form: die Avocados
Avocados also aren’t native to Germany, but rather imports from the Americas in the 1500s. Like the rest of the western world, Germans have grown to love avocado recently. They consumed 36,000 tons of them in 2018!
das Rote Beet (Beet)
Plural Form: die Rote Beete
Rote is the color “red” in German. Beets are grown in southern Germany, and the Germans often eat them pickled and with onions.
der Rettich (Radish)
Plural Form: die Rettiche
Like English, this word came from the Latin word rādix. Special white radishes are called Bierrettich (beer radish).
der Pilz (Mushroom)
Plural Form: die Pilze
Wild mushrooms are very popular in Germany and still picked regularly. Be careful when attempting to pick them yourself, though!
die Olive (Olive)
Plural Form: die Oliven
Brought from the Mediterranean, olives are less popular in native German cuisine. However, they are common in griechischer Salat (Greek salad).
der Kürbis (Pumpkin)
Plural Form: die Kürbisse
Native to North America, pumpkins were first brought to Europe in the 1500s. Now, they’re grown all over Germany, and there’s an annual pumpkin festival in Ludwigsburg every year during the late summer.
Take those tomatoes off of your eyes! You can say all the vegetables in German with easy now. Carry on, and master the German language!
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