Eggplant - also known as aubergine

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Eggplant is very common in southern European countries and it is used in many traditional recipes; Greek - moussaka, French - ratatouille, Indian – baingan bharta, and Turkish - imam bayildi. It is actually a fruit, and contains many fine seeds. It has a mild taste and is typically cooked with stronger flavours such as garlic, tomatoes, onions, herbs and spices.

Choose glossy, blemish free skinned fruit that is firm to the touch and shows no signs of withering. Decay appears as dark brown spots on the surface and should be avoided as these will deteriorate rapidly. Eggplants should be heavy in relation to size. When cut it should be creamy white with no brown seed cavity showing as this is bitter.

Store in the refrigerator crisper. Eggplants are normally used unpeeled. Cut stem off and cut to requirements [strips, slices, halves]. Stuffing; halve, cut around inside edges, score centre flesh, blanch, microwave or roast to soften and remove central flesh. To compact flesh and reduce amount of oil absorption if frying; sprinkle with salt and leave for 30 minutes, wash, drain and squeeze dry. This procedure will also drain out any bitterness, but as only very ripe eggplants tend to be bitter, this is not usually necessary. Recently developed varieties are not bitter and some eggplants, particularly the smaller ones, are so tender they can be eaten raw.

Eggplants can be fried, baked, grilled or steamed – whole, sliced or cubed. Cut into chunks and barbecue on kebabs. Click here for recipes.

Eggplant is a source of dietary fibre. It also contains phytonutrients, particularly the phenolic compounds such as anthocyanins and phenolic acids.

For more information visit the Eggplant A-Z page.

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