The Eggplant is known by a variety of names including aubergine, guinea squash, melongene, and brinjal. Scientifically, it goes by the Latin term, Solanum melongena. Like the potato and tomato it is a member of the nightshade family. It is native to India and Pakistan and in those regions is known as a perennial. In temperate climates where it cannot survive the winter, it is grown as an annual.

Eggplant Recipe

The history of eggplants is almost as exotic as the fruit itself. From its origins in and about India, it spread to China in the fifth century. It found its way to the west through the trade routes overland through the Middle East where it was thought to be an aphrodisiac. In Europe it got a reputation for causing madness, where it was sometimes called a "mad apple".

Rich in nasunin, eggplants are powerful antioxidants. The substance is found in high concentrations in the deep purple skin of some varieties and to a lesser degree in other varieties. Nasunin helps control the effects of free radicals. Besides this, eggplants have many health benefits accruing from the vitamins and minerals contained in the fruit.

To plant eggplants in the garden, prepare a well-drained and composted spot in full sun. Plants should be started indoors four to six weeks before last frost. Plant starts after last frost. In growing eggplants, be careful not to over-water. Flowers, then eggplants, will form. They should be harvested when they begin to get shiny. Eggplants left to grow too long can be heavy, bitter, and seedy.

Not all people are familiar with eggplants in the kitchen, cooking, and recipes. Although gaining in popularity, eggplants still have a long way to go, especially in North American, Australian, and British cuisine. The fruit has a spongy texture, that gives some of the satisfaction of eating meat. It can be bland, yet this feature allows it a versatility that is not inherent in most vegetables. It can be used in both cooked dishes and salads. It can also be fried in butter with the addition of a bit of salt and pepper, and perhaps a sprinkle of garlic.

A simple and delicious way to become acquainted with eggplants is to prepare Baked Eggplant Italiano.

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The Health Benefits of Eggplants >>

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