We at Vibrant Valley Farm are proud to present to you, after years of waiting, the eggplant! This is the first year you'll see it in your box but not the first year we sowed the seed. Every year we can't wait to transplant and harvest eggplant but every year, except this one, the peppers and the tomatoes swallow our time and cause the eggplant to get root bound and die before they ever get to see the field.
Eggplant, a nightshade or solanum family member, is botanically considered a fruit and actually a berry. Like many members of the nightshade family, the eggplant was once considered poisonous. Also like other solanums it is a relative of tobacco and eggplant seeds contain small amounts of nicotine. About 20 pounds of eggplant contain the same amount of nicotine as a cigarette.
The plant has been cultivated for centuries and was planted in south and east Asia since prehistory. The first written record of the eggplant is from an ancient Chinese document dating back to 544 a.d.
The eggplant was brought to Europe by the Arabics. European names for this plant (Spanish berejena and French aubergine) are based on the Arabic words for eggplant. Some names were derived from the melongene family which came through the eastern Mediterranean and others were derived from the aubergine family which came through the western Mediterranean. Italians call it melanzana or "mela insana" meaning insane apple because of its previous poisonous status and because it was said to make you go insane if you ate it.
A staple in Indian cooking,eggplant is known as the king of vegetables. In Southern Asia it is called brinjal.
Why we call the eggplant eggplant is based on the fact that cultivars in the 1700's were more white or yellow and resembled eggs.
Many recipes encourage "degorging" or salting, rinsing and draining the fruit to reduce bitterness. Western varieties like the variegated one in your box don't need that treatment but the Japanese one you'll find will benefit from it. This versatile and delicious fruit can be used in many dishes. Enjoy your eggplant !
How to store:
Eggplant becomes bitter with age. Store in a cool dry place and use within a day or two of purchase. To store longer, place in the refrigerator to for several days.
IN THIS WEEK'S BOUQUET:
- snap dragons
- scabiosa stellata
- flowering ammis
IN THIS WEEK'S BOX:
- heirloom tomatoes
- Armenian cucumbers
- asian greens
- red cabbage