Botanically, eggplants are not actually vegetables, they are berries. Culinarily, eggplants have always been considered vegetables, and is served regularly in many parts of the world.
Eggplants is one of those plants that has different names, depending on which part of the world you are in. In the US, Australia, New Zealand and anglophone Canada, it is ‘eggplant’, because some of the eggplants in the eighteenth century were yellow or white, resembling goose or hen eggs . In the UK , France and Quebec, it is called aubergine, while in India, Malaysia and Singapore, it is brinjal.
There are around 770 varieties of eggplants that can be found in tropical and subtropical climates around the world. Regardless of variety, they need a hot weather to grow and ripen. Since the summers here are generally milder and short, we chose to plant the Japanese eggplant, which needs only 60 days to harvest. The Asian eggplants take a shorter time to grow.
After fertilizing the soil after planting, we pretty much left it alone. While our plant had a few flowers, not all bore fruit. We discovered belatedly that our eggplant had a pollination problem. As one part of the summer was very hot and without wind, the plant could not pollinate successfully. We should have helped it to self-pollinate by brushing the pollen.
Younger fruits are much tastier and better textured than older ones, so harvest them when they are small.
Some fun trivia:
Eggplants have the highest content of nicotine than any other vegetable. However, you would have to eat 20 to 40 pounds of eggplant to consume the amount of nicotine in a cigarette.
More than 60% of eggplants (28 million tons annually) are produced in China. Other big producers of this plant include India, Egypt, Turkey and Iran.
There are 25 calories in 100 grams of eggplant.
It is made up of 92% water, 6% carbohydrates, 1% protein and a small amount of fat.
Great source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1 and copper. It also has a good amount of manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, folate and vitamin K. In addition, Eggplants have phytonutrients like nasunin and cholrogenic acid.
Different types of Eggplant
Graffiti Eggplant – Also called Sicilian eggplant. Gets its name from its purple and white stripes. Can be used in any recipes that a regular eggplant is used for.
Italian Eggplant -Looks a lot like the standard globe eggplant, but it is a little bit smaller, although it is still rather large and fat. Can be used in any dish and it tastes amazing in Italian Dishes.
Japanese and Chinese Eggplant-Long and narrow, Japanese Eggplants are darker and sometimes shorter than the Chinese Eggplant. Both have thin skin, does not have a lot of seeds and has very creamy flesh when it is cooked. They can be used like any other eggplant, however they are best when they are grilled or in stir-fry dishes.
Fairy Tale Eggplant-No bigger than the palm of your hand. Great for grilling because of their tenderness.
White Eggplant -Same as a regular eggplant, but its skin is white.
Indian Eggplant-Small and wide. Dark red/purple in color. Can be used for Indian dishes such as curry and is also good when it is roasted or stuffed.
Little Green Eggplant-Has a mild flavor and is extra creamy. Can be used in any recipe that a regular eggplant is used for.
Thai Eggplant-Small, circular and greenish white in color. Great for Thai curry.
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