Eggplants are a beautiful flowering plant. Right now Green Light is harvesting lots of eggplant at our Edible Teaching Garden. We use a pair of sharp scissors to cut the eggplant at the stem. Once they are too big, eggplants will become bitter or mushy so be sure to harvest once the skin looks fully colored and mature rather than based on size.
Like its family member the tomato, eggplant is not a vegetable but a fruit!
Eggplant is not as popular in North America as it is in other countries, such as France and England where it is called “aubergine.” Most of us think of eggplant as deep purple and pear shaped, but other varieties are round and white, orange with green stripes, or long like a bean.
The versatile, mellow flavor of eggplant allows it to be a part of a variety of dishes. It’s fun to treat as a mini pizza crust or sandwich by slicing crossways into circles. Grilled, roasted, stirred into soup or tomato sauce, blended into baba ganoush, eggplant is a great source of antioxidants, fiber, and B vitamins.
Purple skinned varieties contain the anthocyanin nasunin. Nasunin is an antioxidant and free radical scavenger, which means that it helps cell membranes protect cells from free radicals while the lipid membrane lets nutrients in, wastes out, and receives instructions from messenger molecules about which activities the cell must perform.
Eggplant season is in full swing right now! If you’re not growing it already, check out your farmer’s market for fresh, local eggplants.