History / Geography Edit
Eggplants are native to China and India. They are believed to have been introduced to the Europeans by the Arabs.
Season: July through October
Eggplants are members of the Nightshade family. Other members include potatoes, tomatoes and peppers. Despite the fact the culinary world treats eggplants like a vegetable, in biology, an eggplant is a fruit.
Varieties include, but are not limited to: Japanese / Asian, Italian / Baby, White Beauty, Black Beauty, Burpee Hybrid and Early Beauty. Depending on these varieties, their colors range from white to a deep purple, they range in size from 2 to 12 inches (5 – 30 cm) and they can be oblong to round in shape.
How to Choose Edit
Choose eggplants that are firm to the touch, have a smooth and shiny skin and are heavy. Avoid eggplants with brown or soft spots and have a dull color.
How to Store Edit
Store in a cool dry place, but avoid placing near tomatoes and apples as they give off a gas that enhances the ripening process. Use the eggplant within 2 days. If necessary, the eggplant may be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for as long as 5 days.
Cooking Hints Edit
- Do not cook in an aluminum pan. Aluminum makes eggplants discolor.
- The skin is edible in younger eggplants. Remove the peel in older eggplants.
- Cut each fruit before using, just like bananas. The flesh of the fruit will brown.
- Eggplant absorbs oil very easily; coat your eggplant with breadcrumbs, cornmeal or flour first before frying.
- To help reduce the bitter flavor in older eggplants, slice the eggplant into ½ inch pieces and salt heavily. Weigh down each slice in a colander and allow for the liquid to drain out of the eggplant for 30 minutes. Rinse each slice with cold water and pat dry. This method is called “dégorgeing”. It is best to use this method before frying.
- In order to bake your eggplant, slice your eggplant in half. Score across the interior of each half. Add tiny slices of garlic to go into each score. Salt each half, and bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes. The eggplant is done when it is nicely browned and tender when pierced.
- When wanting to roast your eggplant, cut your eggplant into 1/2 inch slices. Toss in olive oil, salt, pepper and any of the other suggested spices below. Arrange the eggplant in a single layer in a baking dish (not aluminum). Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. The eggplant is done when it is nicely browned and tender when pierced.
Spices that go well with eggplant include:
- sesame seed
Equivalents / Substitutions Edit
1 pound = 3½ cups diced raw = 1¾ cups diced cooked = 4 servings
Nutritional Values Edit
Eggplants contain Vitamin C and Potassium. Other than these two nutrients, eggplants do not have a significant nutrient value. Eggplants also have anti-bacterial, diuretic effects, as well as flavonoids (cancer fighting anti-oxidants).
1 cup cooked contains 25 calories.
Suggested Wines Edit
Web Sites For more information about eggplants Edit
Try one of these links:
Jennifer Wickes may be contacted at http://home.comcast.net/~culinaryjen/Home.html CulinaryJen@comcast.net
Jennifer A. Wickes is a freelance food writer, researcher and cookbook reviewer. She has written several eBooks, and has had several articles and recipes in printed publications. She is working on her first cookbook.
This article was originally published at Suite101.com.