Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Incredible, Edible Eggplant

After seeing the 'egg' in the eggplant I was curious to see if this was in fact the origin of the name. In short, yes. Back in the day old European varieties resembled eggs, but interestingly enough in other places in the world it goes by other names such as aubergine, brinjal, egg apple, and Guinea squash. The Feds say Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducing us Americans to this lovely vegetable. Need a few more reasons to eat your eggplant? How about antimutagenic, antiviral, and antimicrobial for starters, or one of my personal favorites, an excuse to eat more mozzarella cheese. (I guess its a good thing eggplant also does good things for my cholesterol too!)

In some parts of the country eggplant can be heavily cut back to produce a second harvest. Here are some tips on selection and storage from WHFoods:

Choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size. Their skin should be smooth and shiny, and their color, whether it be purple, white or green, should be vivid. They should be free of discoloration, scars, and bruises, which usually indicate that the flesh beneath has become damaged and possibly decayed.

The stem and cap, on either end of the eggplant, should be bright green in color. As you would with other fruits and vegetables, avoid purchasing eggplant that has been waxed. To test for the ripeness of an eggplant, gently press the skin with the pad of your thumb. If it springs back, the eggplant is ripe, while if an indentation remains, it is not.

Although they look hardy, eggplants are actually very perishable and care should be taken in their storage. Eggplants are sensitive to both heat and cold and should ideally be stored at around 50 degrees Farenheit (10 degrees Celsius). Do not cut eggplant before you store it as it perishes quickly once its skin has been punctured or its inner flesh exposed.

Place uncut and unwashed eggplant in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep for a few days. If it is too large for the crisper, do not try to force it in; this will damage the skin and cause the eggplant to spoil and decay. Instead, place it on a shelf within the refrigerator.

If you purchase eggplant that is wrapped in plastic film, remove it as soon as possible since it will inhibit the eggplant from breathing and degrade its freshness.

Have you heard about Eggplant sex? Well if not go here and learn all about an eggplant's supposed sex organs, and while your at it check out the many great varieties described and pictured from all over the world.


Ruralrose said...

This is my first year growing eggplant. If you wouldn't mind a couple of questions - what do you feed it, how much light, will it mature in a pot? thanks - great pictures you do have a knack - thanks, peace

Kelly said...

I have all but one of my 6 plants in pots. Some varieties may be be better suited to this than others. According to a few of my gardening books eggplant can be picky, and it like the following:
- full sun, well drained fertile soil, a pH in the 6.0 range is preffered.
-they like phosphorous and potassium and lots of water, never let the soil dry out. Lack of calcium will produce BER just like in tomatoes.

I used a mix of organic potting soil, horse manure compost and amendments like Azomite and granite meal in the planters. I have done a few foliar feeds with seaweed & fish emulsion as well as a fertilizing or two with the same directly to the soil. I also threw some seaweed from the beach right on top of the soil in a couple of the pots for kicks.

I wish I could be of more help, this is my first eggplant crop too. There is an amazing video out there of a garden filled with potted eggplants. If I can find it I will post it for you.

Erin said...

I have eggplant (Purple Rain & Thai Yellow) planted directly in the ground in a new fence border/mulched area. The soil there has had nothing but lawn up until this year and was never amended or compost added. My beans even curled up and died there when they got a foot tall, but my eggplant is gorgeous! Huge, beautiful plants and fruit! My soil is naturally acidic, sandy soil and they seem to love that. Good Luck, RuaralRose! (the only feeding they had was a handful of organic Tomato-Tone sprinkled around the plants a month after planting)

Michelle said...

Very interesting! My favorite name is aubergine...easier to say than "my eggplant plant"!

Ruralrose said...

thanks very, very much - peace for all