Hello! Thanks for stopping by. Let me share some interesting facts about eggplants. We're a star vegetable loved worldwide and often used in various dishes. Vegetarians particularly enjoy us because we have a meaty texture when cooked. We belong to the nightshade family and are related to capsicums and tomatoes. Surprisingly, botanically, we're considered a fruit.
Some people think we come from Greece and Italy, but my ancestors were actually enjoyed by Chinese Emperors back in 600 BC. They loved us! Also, fashionable women used to make a black dye from our skin to stain their teeth black. It made their teeth shine like silver after polishing.
We eggplants grow on a bush, which produces different shaped fruit over a long time. Our stem and the star-like leafy calyx are covered in short spines and are attached at the narrowest end of the eggplant.
We come in tear-drop, long and thin, round or egg shapes with colours ranging from white to white with red stripes to deep purplish black.
Let's dive into the wonderful world of eggplants and explore the different types you can find. Are you ready? Let's go!
Although we are available for all year round, we’re most abundant from January to July.
In Australia, we eggplants are not sold by specific varieties but by our types (we talk about this earlier). Our shape and colour are important distinguishing features. While most of us are purple and oval to pear-shaped, you may occasionally find white, lavender, or purple-striped long sausage-like eggplants. There are also small round eggplants available in various colours.
Black Bell or Common Eggplant.
The classic eggplant is the most common type you'll find in stores. It has a dark purple skin and looks smooth and shiny. When you slice it, you'll see a creamy white or yellowish inside. It's great for stir-fries, baking, or grilling on the barbecue.
Japanese or Lebanese Eggplant
The Japanese eggplant is smaller and has a different shape. It's long and slim, not round like the classic eggplant. It's deep purple in colour, just like the Black Bell eggplant. Japanese eggplants are perfect for making tasty dishes like eggplant Parmesan or ratatouille.
White eggplants have a pale, creamy skin that looks different from the usual purple colour. They are like a delicate version of the classic eggplant. When you slice them, you'll find a tender and mild-flavoured inside. White eggplants add elegance to dishes and make beautiful presentations.
Graffiti or Striped Eggplant
The graffiti eggplant is like a work of art! It has a vibrant purple skin with streaks of white or pale green, like a beautiful painting by nature. Inside, it has a creamy flesh that's slightly sweeter than the classic eggplant. Graffiti eggplants are not only tasty but also add a colourful touch to your meals.
Thai eggplants are small and cute, like little colourful balls. They come in different colours like green, white, or even purple. Isn't that fun? What makes Thai eggplants unique is their taste. They have a slightly tangy and spicy flavour, which adds a zing to curries, stir-fries, and soups.
So, my friend, these are just a few of the different types of eggplants you can discover. Each one has its own special characteristics and flavours.
Our parent plant is a medium-sized bush, 50-100cm high which requires long warm summers to provide good quality fruit. Seedlings are usually grown in nurseries and then transplanted into the fields when they are about 8 weeks old.
Harvesting takes place 60-70 days after transplanting, when the eggplants have an all-over colour and are of the right size. Once we're cut from the bush, we're handled very carefully as our skins are very thin and easily damaged.
Select those of us with smooth, firm, satin-like, glossy, skin that is not wrinkled. We should feel heavy for our size. Avoid any with brown and dull skin.
Store us in in an unsealed recyclable plastic bag in your fridge. refrigerator. Use within 2-3 days.
Eggplants are grown in most states of Australia, with the majority of production occurring along the east coast. Currently, most eggplants are grown outdoors. However, increasing volumes are being grown year-round in high-tech greenhouses in the southern states
As I mentioned earlier, we were being cultivated in China as early as 600 BC but it's thought that we originated in India and Sri Lanka before that. From there we spread to the Middle East and became a popular Arab food. When the Arabs conquered Spain, they took us with them and by the 16th century we were being grown throughout Europe.
It appears that we were unknown in Australia until after 1850 when a nurseryman, John Baptist, obtained some seed from a gentleman who had lived in India. However, we didn't become popular and even in the 1930s, we were considered a neglected vegetable by seed producers. It wasn't until the arrival of European migrants in the 1950s that our popularity soared.
We are not eaten raw. Our flesh becomes quite meaty and very tender once we’re cooked.
It’s best to cut eggplant just before you use it so it doesn’t turn brown.
Like zucchini, our soft spongey flesh will soak up whatever flavours it is cooked with making us a star in the kitchen.
Eggplant can be cooked in many ways; roasted, char-grilled, barbecued, fried, baked and stewed, and even stuffed.
Older eggplant is sometimes sliced and salted and left to stand for 20 minutes to remove bitter juices.
Sliced barbecue or char-grilled eggplant makes a great vegetarian alternative to a meat patty on your burger.
We can be crumbed in flour, egg and breadcrumbs and pan-fried until golden.
Roasted over hot coals so over flavour becomes smoky and ideal for the dip called baba ghanoush.
Try these tasty eggplant recipes from Sydney Markets;