There are many varieties of eggplant which range from dark purple to pale mauve, and from yellow to white. Varieties of eggplant include Chinese purple, globular, Japanese and Italian Rosa Bianco. 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 cooking throughout Italy. For hundreds of years, it was grown only in Sicily and southern Italy.
Researchers at the US Agricultural Service in Beltsville, Maryland, have found that eggplants are rich sources of phenolic compounds that function as antioxidants. Plants form such compounds to protect themselves from infection by bacteria and fungi.
Eggplant is available all year, but is best in August and September.
For centuries after its introduction into Europe, eggplant was used more as a decorative garden plant than as a food.
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.
Egg Plant Facts
- Eggplants, named after the fact that the vegetable is shaped like a purple egg, were once thought to be poisonous.
- An eggplant can grow almost to the size of a football.
- Neon is a variety of eggplant with a hot pink hue.
- Ghostbuster is a variety of eggplant that bears oval fruit with white skin.
- Ichiban is a variety of eggplant that bears thin, foot long fruit with deep purple skin.
- The Slim Jim variety of eggplant grows clusters of lavender fruit the size of peanuts.
- The Easter Egg variety of eggplant bears ivory-colored fruit about two inches long that looks exactly like a chicken's eggs.
- In Asian cuisine, the small Chinese eggplant is usually cooked with tofu.
- In West Africa the eggplant is known as the "field egg".
- When preparing eggplant, it is best to avoid frying.
- 1 average-sized eggplant will serve 3 people.
- 1 medium eggplant equals 1 pound
- One pound of eggplant equals 3 to 4 cups chopped eggplant.
One of the oldest references to eggplant occurred in China in the 5th century, when it was recorded on a scroll that Chinese ladies of fashion made a black dye from eggplant to stain their teeth which, after polishing, shone like silver.
Folklore: As a result of the overly bitter taste of the early varieties, people felt that eggplant held the undeserved and inauspicious reputation of being able to cause insanity, leprosy and cancer.
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