Eggplant –

Scientific and Common Names

Solanum melongena

Eggplant, Aubergine

About

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia] The eggplant, aubergine, melongene or brinjal (Solanum melongena) is a plant of the family Solanaceae (also known as the nightshades) and genus Solanum. It bears a fruit of the same name, commonly used as a vegetable in cooking. As a nightshade, it is closely related to the tomato and potato and is native to Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.

Three_Types_of_Eggplant
The fruit is botanically classified as a berry, and contains numerous small, soft seeds, which are edible, but are bitter because they contain (an insignificant amount of) nicotinoid alkaloids, unsurprising as it is a close relative of tobacco.  The plant is native to India.  It has been cultivated in southern and eastern Asia since prehistory but appears to have become known to the Western world no earlier than ca. 1500. The first known written record of the plant is found in Qí mín yào shù, an ancient Chinese agricultural treatise completed in 544.  The numerous Arabic and North African names for it, along with the lack of the ancient Greek and Roman names, indicate that it was introduced throughout the Mediterranean area by the Arabs in the early Middle Ages.  The scientific name Solanum melongena is derived from a 16th century Arabic term for one variety.

The name eggplant, used in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada refers to the fact that the fruits of some 18th century European cultivars were yellow or white and resembled goose or hen’s eggs.  A much wider range of shapes, sizes and colors is grown in India and elsewhere in Asia.  Larger varieties weighing up to a kilogram (2.2 pounds) grow in the region between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, while smaller varieties are found elsewhere. Colors vary from white to yellow or green, as well as reddish-purple and dark purple. Some cultivars have a color gradient, from white at the stem to bright pink to deep purple or even black. Green or purple cultivars in white striping also exist. Chinese varieties are commonly shaped like a narrower, slightly pendulous cucumber, and were sometimes called Japanese eggplants in North America.

eggplants

Nutritional Value

Eggplant, rawNutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)Energy102 kJ (24 kcal)Carbohydrates5.7 gSugars2.35 gDietary fiber3.4 gFat0.19 gProtein1.01 gThiamine (Vit. B1)0.039 mg (3%)Riboflavin (Vit. B2)0.037 mg (2%)Niacin (Vit. B3)0.649 mg (4%)Pantothenic acid (B5)0.281 mg (6%)Vitamin B60.084 mg (6%)Folate (Vit. B9)22 μg (6%)Vitamin C2.2 mg (4%)Calcium9 mg (1%)Iron0.24 mg (2%)Magnesium14 mg (4%)Phosphorus25 mg (4%)Potassium230 mg (5%)Zinc0.16 mg (2%)Manganese0.25 mgPercentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.Source: USDA Nutrient database

Growing

It is a delicate perennial often cultivated as an annual. It grows 40 to 150 cm (16 to 57 in) tall, with large coarsely lobed leaves that are 10 to 20 cm (4–8 in) long and 5 to 10 cm (2–4 in) broad. (Semi-)wild types can grow much larger, to 225 cm (7 ft) with large leaves over 30 cm (12 in) long and 15 cm (6 in) broad. The stem is often spiny. The flowers are white to purple, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. The fruit is fleshy, less than 3 cm in diameter on wild plants, but much larger in cultivated forms.

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Love Farm Organics Eggplant

Uses and Cooking Tips

The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Salting and then rinsing the sliced fruit (known as “degorging”) can soften and remove much of the bitterness though this is often unnecessary. Some modern varieties do not need this treatment, as they are far less bitter.  The fruit is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, allowing for very rich dishes, but the salting process will reduce the amount of oil absorbed. The fruit flesh is smooth; the numerous seeds are soft and edible along with the rest of the fruit. The thin skin is also edible, so peeling is not required.

The plant is used in cuisines from Japan to Spain. It is often stewed, as in the French ratatouille, the Italian melanzane alla parmigiana, the Greek moussaka, and Middle-Eastern and South Asian dishes. It may also be roasted in its skin until charred, so that the pulp can be removed and blended with other ingredients such as lemon, tahini, and garlic, as in the Middle Eastern dish baba ghanoush and the similar Greek dish melitzanosalata or the Indian dishes of Baingan Bhartha or Gojju. In Iranian cuisine, it can be blended with whey as kashk e-bademjan, tomatoes as mirza ghasemi or made into stew as khoresh-e-bademjan.  It can be sliced and deep-fried, then served with plain yoghurt, (optionally) topped with a tomato and garlic sauce such as in Turkish dishes. Eggplants can also be battered before deep-frying and served with a sauce made of tahini and tamarind.  The fruit can also be stuffed with meat, rice, or other fillings and then baked. As a native plant, it is widely used in Indian cuisine, for example in sambhar, dalma (a dal preparation with vegetables, native to Orissa), chutney, curries, and achaar. Owing to its versatile nature and wide use in both everyday and festive Indian food, it is often described (under the name brinjal) as the ‘King of Vegetables’. In one dish, Brinjal is stuffed with ground coconut, peanuts, and masala and then cooked in oil.

Recipes

roasted-eggplants

Baba Ganoush

  • 3 smallish eggplants or 1 rather large
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • some flat-leaf parsley (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Prick each eggplant a few times with the tines of a fork.
  2. If you have a gas stove, turn on one of the burners and char the eggplants all over, turning them often as they blacken. (Skip this step if you have an electric stove, or do this on a grill if you have one and weather permits.)
  3. Place the eggplants on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until they are extremely soft and have collapsed in on themselves as pictured above, about 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully cut a slit down the center of each to allow the steam to escape. Leave the eggplants to cool to room temperature.
  4. Scrape out and discard as many of the seeds from the eggplants as you can, then scrape the pulp into the bowl of a food processor. Add remaining ingredients, and process until you reach your desired consistency: some people prefer smooth, others like to leave it a little chunky.
  5. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Chill for a few hours, and preferably overnight, before serving.