-Eggplant, also known as aubergine is a species of nightshade (a family of plants that includes potatoes and tomatoes)grown for its edible fruit.
-Different varieties of the plant produce fruit of different size, shape, and colour, but they are typically purple.
-A much wider range of shapes, sizes and colours is grown in India and elsewhere in Asia.
-Eggplant can be grown year round in warmer climates. In temperate ones like this, it is best to sprout them indoors and move them outside when all frost has passed.
Selection and Storage:
-Various eggplant varieties may be used interchangeably in most recipes.
-Smaller eggplants have fewer seeds and thinner skin. When cooked they taste slightly sweeter and contain less seeds.
-Choose eggplants with smooth, shiny skin, heavy for their size, and that have no blemishes, bruises or brown spots.
-Wrinkled, loose skin is an indication of age, and the fruit will be more bitter.
-When selecting an eggplant press your finger lightly against the skin. If it leaves a light imprint, it is ripe. If it is too soft, or wrinkled it is too old and will taste bitter.
-Eggplant can last between 5-7 days in the fridge.
-If purchased in a plastic bag, remove the fruit and wrap it in a paper towel.
Preparation and Serving:
-The flesh of the fruit is smooth, like a tomato Inside there are numerous seeds that are soft and edible. The skin of the fruit is also edible however, larger varieties of eggplant may have tougher skin. This can be peeled before or after cooking, depending on the dish.
-A raw eggplant will have a bitter taste, but it becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavour.
-Due to its texture, eggplant is often used as a meat substitute in vegan and vegetarian cooking.