Wednesday’s In the Know: Varieties of Eggplants
For those of you that love eggplants, you are in for a real treat today! With an incredible bounty of eggplants and varieties thereof, I find it only appropriate to shed a little light on their remarkable beauty.
It’s important when working with eggplant to not only know the varieties that are available to you, but also how to shop for, store and cook with them! For an incredibly thorough overview of working with eggplants, I defer to one of my favorite resources for knowledge and recipes, Cooking Light:
Although available year-round, eggplant is at its peak from July to October.
When selecting, look for eggplants with firm, glossy skin. Size and color vary widely among types, but the eggplant should feel heavy. Avoid those with wrinkled skin, soft spots, or brown patches.
Store whole, unwashed eggplants in a produce bag to retain moisture and prevent shriveling. Because it can’t withstand temperatures below 45 degrees without damage, keep eggplant in your vegetable bin or the warmest section of your refrigerator.
Grilled, cut into planks and fried, or sautéed in a sauce, for starters....
Studies have shown that the health benefits of eggplants include lowering of blood cholesterol, blood pressure, anti-cancer properties and weight management.
Majority (if not all) the nutritional value and health benefits of eggplants are obtained from the skin of the vegetable. Unfortunately, majority of the recipes that we eat do not include using the skin of this beautiful vegetable. The eggplant skin is full of fiber, potassium and magnesium and antioxidants. You may not know that the phenolic content in eggplants, makes it such a strong free radical scavenger that the eggplant is ranked among the top 10 vegetables in terms of oxygen radical absorbency. – Nature and Nutrition
Varieties to Choose from, Thanks to Leaf Tv:
The most common eggplant grown in Thailand is the Thai Eggplant. This golf-ball-sized vegetable is bitter in taste; the seeds are particularly bitter and are removed before cooking. This eggplant comes in many colors, but is typically green with yellow or white stripes. The Yellow Egg is a Thai heirloom eggplant. These egg-shaped vegetables are yellow in color. The Thai Long Green is another heirloom eggplant; it is long and light green. These eggplants are used cubed in hot curry dishes.
Japanese White Egg
The Japanese White Egg eggplant is very productive, giving large quantities of small white vegetables. These eggplants have a thin skin and a delicate, sweet flavor. The vegetable is slender and comes in a variety of colors: it can be white, pink, green, lavender or purple. Its stem is most often dark purple. The White Egg is roasted and served as a vegetable or added to Japanese soups or sesame chicken.
Ping Tung Long
The Ping Tung Long eggplant is long and dark purple. Its flesh is tender and sweet. Named after its native town of Ping Tung in Taiwan, it is popular throughout Asia. It is best when grilled and served with salt and olive oil.
African Garden Eggs
African Garden Egg eggplants are typically small and bitter. They are almost always yellow in color. This eggplant is usually grown in small gardens, and is eaten throughout West Africa. African Garden Eggs are chopped into small pieces, cooked, then mixed into various meat, fish and vegetable dishes and sauces.
Chinese Round Mauve
The Round Mauve eggplant is a Chinese heirloom with small to medium-sized fruits. It is pale lavender in color with subtle patterns of purple. It is usually eaten when it is the size of a tennis ball; this is when the seeds are least noticeable. The skin of the Chinese Round Mauve is soft, so it is rarely peeled. You can use this eggplant in almost any eggplant recipe. The Chinese Round Mauve plant is compact and, because it is highly ornamental, is often used as a decorative plant.
Now that you have a thorough understanding of eggplants, I encourage you to seek them out and have fun experimenting with them in your own kitchen.
For other terrific tips and hundreds of recipes, including Baba Ghanoush and Inside out Eggplant Parmesan, visit my website (thetabletogether.com). While there, consider “subscribing” and I will send a new tip or blog post directly to your inbox every Tuesday and Wednesday morning!
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