Eggplant is a plant in the family of Solanaceae grown around the world as an edible fruit. It’s known under many different names in different cultures. It’s most commonly purple and used in a variety of different culinary traditions and for many different purposes.
It’s most often eaten cooked, but like a potato its skin and seeds can all be used for food. It’s been brought to the US by the first settlers and it’s been widely used ever since.
- They are technically berries
- They have a high level of nicotine
- There’s a Japanese proverb: “The happiest omen for a New Year is first Mount Fuji, then the falcon, and lastly eggplant”
The eggplants should have a smooth and shiny skin if they are fresh and healthy. They should also feel heavy for their size. To test how ripe, the eggplant is you should press your finger on the eggplant and if it leaves the imprint the eggplant is ripe.
Smaller eggplants will be sweeter and have less seeds to remove. The peak season is in August and September.
Production & Farming in Texas
Eggplant will mostly grow in the soil that’s well drained and fertile, you’ll also need to remove all the weeds and rocks from the soil before planting. This means that Texas is rather suitable for the production of eggplants in both commercial and personal environments.
Suggested varieties for Texas include: Black Bell Black Magic Epic Classic Florida High Bush Florida Market Night Shadow Oriental-type varieties that do well in Texas include ‘Ichibon’ and ‘Tycoon’.
Eggplants can be planted directly into the ground or they can be transplanted. Most home gardens use the second option since it’s a safer way for the plant to take root.
It takes up to 8 weeks until you’re able to transplant the eggplant from your indoors garden to the outside one. It’s a tropical plant meaning that it’s very sensitive to cold and that’s why Texas and southern US overall is the best environment for it.
Eggplants need a constant supply of nutrients. Add a total of 2 to 3 pounds of a complete fertilizer (6- 12-12, 10-10-10, or 9-16-16) per 1,000 square feet. It’s also useful to test the soil first and act accordingly.
The insecticides used by vegetable farmers on eggplant include profenofos, triazophos, chlorpyrifos, cypermethrin, and malathion. Residues from their application have been found in both the soils of eggplant farms and in harvested fruits.
The variety of names used for eggplants is a good testament as to how widely spread the plant is and in how many different cultures it is used. The plant has originated in India and Africa where it still grows as a wild plant.
It was used in Europe during the middle ages, but it was related to many false folk beliefs (such as causing insanity, being poisons or being and aphrodisiac). Now it’s grown in every climate that allows it, which means pretty much everywhere it isn’t too cold.
Eggplants are usually wrapped in a paper when they are in stores, but they don’t have to be as some stores leave them so that they can be examined for freshness and age. When they are moved from the farmers to the stores, they are placed in cardboard boxes that are well ventilated.
They are also sometimes sprinkled with water in order to keep them fresh for a longer time, since they have a short shelf life.
There are dozens of ways to eat eggplant. They need to be peeled and used pretty fast but there’s a variety of way to use them, meaning that you can get a good deal on them in terms of how many meals they work with.
The eggplants could be used on their own or as a side dishes to many other courses. A great thing about them is that they can also be a vessel for other food meaning that they could be staffed and used as bowls even though this is less common.
When it comes to cooking, roasting, and making into a mash, the key is to not overdo it and keep the eggplants fresh and with a soft texture.
There are countless ways to cook eggplants, so much so that they could be a part of your every meal when they in season. Here are a few of them to have in mind.
Eggplants could be mashed into a dip after it’s cooked. It has a creamy texture and should be treated just like potato’s when making mashed potatoes. It’s a simple yet filling meal that almost anyone can make.
Roasting is another great option and many find it to be the most satisfying way to cook eggplants. They are placed in a hot oven and drizzled in olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper. Eggplants are roasted until they are soft and smoky.
In addition to containing a variety of vitamins and minerals, eggplants boast a high number of antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that help protect the body from damage caused by harmful substances known as free radicals.
Studies have shown that antioxidants could help prevent many types of chronic disease, such as heart disease and cancer.
Eggplants are especially rich in anthocyanins, a type of pigment with antioxidant properties that’s responsible for their vibrant color.
In one study, rabbits with high cholesterol were given 0.3 ounces (10 ml) of eggplant juice daily for two weeks. At the end of the study, they had lower levels of both LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, two blood markers that can lead to an increased risk of heart disease when elevated.
Other studies have demonstrated that eggplants may have a protective effect on the heart.
When Are Eggplant in Season in Texas?
To find out when Eggplant are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.