Eggplant (Aubergine)
Eggplant Hints and Tips


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Equivalents:
1 medium eggplant = about 1 1/2 pounds
1 medium eggplant = 4 to 6 servings
1 pound eggplant = 3 to 4 cups diced
1 eggplant, peeled = 110 calories


Nutrition - 1 medium eggplant (peeled):

Calories - 110
Fat - 1 gram
Sodium - 9 grams
Dietary Fiber - 16 grams
Protein - 5 grams

Synonyms: aubergine = berenjena = brinjal = garden egg = egg apple = patlican = melongene = melanzane = Guinea squash


image of eggplant

Did you know that at one time, women in the Orient used a black dye made form eggplant to stain their teeth a gun metal gray? The dye probably came from the same dark purple eggplant we see in the marketplace today.

The eggplant is a member of the potato family, and it is known worldwide as aubergine, eggplant, brinjal, melanzana, garden egg, and patlican. It is available year-round, with the peak season during the months of August and September.

There are many varieties which range from dark purple to pale mauve, and from yellow to white. The longer purple variety is the most commonly eaten. It is one of the more popular vegetables in the world, and it is a staple of Italian cook.

white eggplantWhite Eggplants - Eggplants got their name because eggplants used to come in only one color - white. Hanging from the plant, they looked like eggs. The original white eggplant is now very trendy. It is generally smaller than the purple variety, and a lot of people say it's more tender. White eggplants are also smaller and more firmly textured than the common purple eggplant. They are denser, creamier and less bitter, even though they can have more seeds. The skin of a white eggplant is tougher than purple eggplant and must be peeled. White eggplants are available seasonally.

There are two types of white eggplants commonly found in vegetable gardens:

  • The plant of the ornamental white eggplant (S. ovigerum Dun.) closely resembles the plant of ordinary culinary eggplant (S. melongena L.).
     
  • Melongena includes edible varieties of eggplant having white fruit, such as `Albino' and `White Beauty.'

 



Male vs. Female Eggplant - Are Eggplants Sexy?

I have this question asked to me all the time. Every time I research this question, I always come up with varied answers. I, personally, don't know the correct answer. Check out what some of the experts say, and you be the judge!

"Male" and "female" eggplant is a case of unfortunate terminology. "Vegetables," such as eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash, are - botanically speaking - really fruits. The fruits themselves can't be considered "male or female." Male pollen was transferred to female parts of the flower, resulting in the fruit we eat. Different varieties of eggplant may be more bitter and contain more noticeable seeds than others. Also, as an eggplant fruit matures, the seeds become more noticeable. So an eggplant picked when very mature to over-mature might appear "seedier" than others picked when less mature, even those from the same plant. Pick eggplant fruits when full size is reached but while the exterior is still a glossy purple. Once the exterior becomes dull purple, the eggplant fruit is over-mature. Source: Robert Cox, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Horticulture, Jefferson County.

There is long-standing controversy about male and female eggplants, which is an inaccurate approach considering the fact that fruits are the product of sex and do not have it. However, it is folk wisdom worth some attention. Eggplants have a dimple at the blossom end. The dimple can be very round or oval in shape. The round ones seem to have more seeds and tend to be less meaty, so select the oval dimpled eggplant. 
Source: Ron Wolford, Extension Educator-Urban Horticulture & Gardening, and Drusilla Banks, Extension Educator-Nutrition and Wellness, University of Illinois Extension.

Male eggplants tend to have fewer seeds, and are therefore less bitter than female eggplants. To sex an eggplant, look at the indentation at bottom. If it's deep and shaped like a dash, it's a female. If it's shallow and round, it's a male. Smaller eggplants also tend to be less bitter. Freshness is important, so don't store them for very long. Source: The Cook's Thesaurus, by Lori Alden.

Despite the ages old, old-wives tale that there are male and female eggplants and the male of the species is better eating --detected because it has an “outie” blossom end as opposed to the female “innie” blossom end – there is no such thing. I follow different old-wives adivce, learned from my many years of cooking with old wives in Italy. Source: The Food Maven Diary, by Arthur Schwartz.



Purchasing Eggplant:
Smaller, immature eggplants are best. Full-size puffy ones may have hard seeds and can be bitter. Choose a firm, smooth-skinned eggplant that is heavy for its size; avoid those with soft or brown spots. Gently push with your thumb or forefinger. If the flesh gives slightly but then bounces back, it is ripe. If the indentation remains, it is overripe and the insides will be mushy. If there is no give, the eggplant was picked too early. Also make sure an eggplant isn't dry inside, knock on it with your knuckles. If you hear a hollow sound, don't buy it. NOTE: Whether or not there is an appreciable difference, I don't know.

Storing Eggplant: Eggplants are very perishable and become bitter with age. They should be stored in a cool, dry place and used within a day or two of purchase. To store in the refrigerator, place in a plastic bag. If you plan to cook it the same day you buy it, leave it out at room temperature. Eggplant is not suitable for drying or canning. Freezing is the best method for home preservation.

Preparing Eggplant: When young, the skin of most eggplants are edible; older eggplants should be peeled. Since the flesh discolors rapidly, an eggplant should be cut just before using.
 



Eggplant Recipes - Recipes Using Eggplant

Melanzane d'Aldo - Aldo's Eggplant
Even people who think they don't like eggplant, like this dish. It makes a great side dish for a picnic or a meal served on the patio."

Oven-Fried Eggplant
A very easy and delicious way to prepare and serve eggplant.

Roasted Eggplant with Marinara Sauce
This is a very tasty eggplant dish that even non-eggplant eaters seem to enjoy!

Thai Spiced Pork
It's very hard to describe the wonderful taste of this dish. Try it - you'll like it.

Zucchini, Eggplant, and Green Beans with Tomatoes
What a delightful and healthy dish this is, with a bit of Turkish flair, very colorful, and a good way to use the bounty from your garden.
 

 



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