Thanks to its texture and flavor, it is one of the most popular vegetables for people who want to reduce their consumption of meat. We make purees that are perfect for the lunch box. It is essential for ratatouille and caponata, which are eaten as cold as hot.
Characteristics of eggplant:
- Low in calories;
- Rich in fiber;
- Rich in antioxidants;
- Stimulates intestinal transit;
- Participates in the prevention of certain pathologies.
What is eggplant?
Eggplant identity card
- Type: Vegetable;
- Family: Solanaceae;
- Origin: India, Burma, China;
- Season: June to September;
- Color: Dark purple;
- Flavor: Sweet.
Characteristics of eggplant
At harvest, an eggplant weighs on average 225g. The ones we eat most often have bright purple skin and soft white flesh.
Word from the nutritionist
Eggplant is rich in antioxidants. Most of these antioxidants are found in the skin of the eggplant, which is why you should consume it with your skin.
|Vitamin C||1.3 mg|
|Vitamin B1||0.076 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.086 mg|
5 benefits of eggplant: why eat it?
- Antioxidants are compounds that protect the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals. These are very reactive molecules which are implicated in the development of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and other diseases linked to aging. Eggplant is considered to have a high antioxidant potential and we begin to analyze the potential benefits. Phenolic acids are one of the main classes of antioxidants in eggplant, the most abundant of which is chlorogenic acid. Eggplant, especially if its skin is dark, is also rich in antioxidant pigments from the anthocyanin category.
- Raw eggplant is a source of manganese for men and women, while boiled eggplant is a source for women only. Manganese acts as a cofactor for several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals.
- Eggplant is a source of copper. As a constituent of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also help the body’s defense against free radicals.
- Boiled eggplant is a source of vitamin B1. Also called thiamine, vitamin B1 is part of a coenzyme necessary for the production of energy mainly from the carbohydrates that we eat. It also participates in the transmission of nerve impulses and promotes normal growth.
- Boiled eggplant is a source of vitamin B6. Also called pyridoxine, vitamin B6 is part of coenzymes that participate in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids as well as in the synthesis (manufacture) of neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It also contributes to the production of red blood cells and allows them to transport more oxygen. Pyridoxine is also necessary for the transformation of glycogen into glucose and it contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. This vitamin finally plays a role in the formation of certain components of nerve cells and in the modulation of hormone receptors.
Choosing the right eggplant
The skin should be smooth and shiny, the sepals should be very green and thorny, and adhere to the skin. Avoid fruits with wrinkled skin and matte color that turns brown. The flesh may then be bitter, fibrous and contain a lot of seeds.
The different varieties
There are a multitude of varieties of eggplant whose size varies from pea to melon, and color, from white to purple, through green, yellow and orange. In the near future, there may be added to this rich range of fruits from Africa, where the leaves of many varieties are also eaten.
In the refrigerator: Eggplant does not like the cold and does not keep well in the refrigerator. Consume it as soon as possible after purchase. If necessary, it can be kept for one or two weeks in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator.
In the freezer: Wash, peel (or not) and cut into slices about a centimeter thick. Blanch for four minutes in water to which we will have added a little lemon juice. Cool, drain and put in airtight bags in the freezer, sliding a piece of waxed paper between the slices. It will keep there for eight to ten months. Cook without defrosting. You can also freeze ratatouille and other eggplant-based stews.
How to cook it? How to match it?
Even if it is not essential, one can salt the eggplant and make it disgorge in salt. This practice will have the effect of reducing the amount of oil that it will absorb during cooking, an appreciable quality for people who avoid consuming this fruit for fear of calories. Rinse to remove salt and blot.
To prevent the flesh from browning under the action of oxygen, sprinkle it with a little lemon juice.
Some advise always to peel the eggplant, others to peel only very ripe fruits, whose skin is thicker and more bitter. In Egypt, it is a crime of “lese-chef” to peel an eggplant.
Eggplant is eaten:
- Fried as is or in donuts;
- Stuffed: cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, remove a good part of the pulp and fry lightly. Let cool and stuff with pine nuts, finely minced meat with onions and reserved pulp. Place the eggplant halves side by side in a gratin dish, drizzle with broth or tomato juice and bake in the oven. Other stuffing suggestions: rice and meat, minced in equal parts; rice, tomatoes, minced onions, parsley, dill or mint. Drizzle with tomato juice;
- In the ratatouille, with onions, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, thyme and bay leaf. Adding pitted black olives, celery and capers, this is the Italian caponata;
- In curries.
We will also do:
- Eggplant caviar: peel, bake, steam or fry, finely chop the flesh and season with olive oil;
- Babaghanuuj: this typically Arabic dish is made from cooked and mashed eggplant, to which lemon juice, garlic, herbs and tahini (sesame seed puree) are added. You can replace the tahini with stale bread previously soaked in water. Eggplant puree can also be prepared with pomegranate juice. Serve garnished with pomegranate seeds. Or mix mash, garlic and yogurt, and flavor with finely chopped mint;
- A moussaka: it is prepared by alternating in a gratin dish slices of grilled eggplant, finely minced lamb meat back in the pan and tomato sauce, all topped with bechamel sauce and garnished with grated cheese. Cook in the oven;
- A parmigiana gratin: cut the aubergines lengthwise, pass them in the flour and fry them on both sides in olive oil. In a gratin dish, go up layers, alternating layers of eggplant with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Add grated Parmesan cheese and bake for half an hour in an oven set to 190 ° C;
- An escalivada: this Catalan dish is made up of onions, peppers and eggplant arranged in layers in a gratin dish and drizzled with a drizzle of good Spanish olive oil. Remove from the oven, drizzle with olive oil and sherry vinegar. Serve warm or cold.
In Japan, cut the small elongated eggplants in half and lightly incise their skin in several places before grilling them on the barbecue, coated with a thick sauce made up of miso and a little sake, sugar (or honey) and black sesame seeds. They are also prepared in tempura.
The term “eggplant”, which appeared in the language in 1750, comes from the Catalan albergina, which borrowed it from the Arabic al-bdinjân. Note that the French word is used in many languages, including among the Anglo-Saxons.
Although the eggplant has been domesticated in India where it is believed to have been consumed for 2,500 to 4,000 years, its wild ancestor may have come from Africa, where there are multitudes of species of Solanum with characteristics very close to those of cultivated eggplant. From India, it spread to China (around 700 years before our era) where varieties of small fruits of green, white, red and lavender color have been produced. It is moreover in a Chinese treaty dating from 500 years before our era that it is mentioned for the first time. It will be introduced into the Arab world from the ninth century, migrating to Egypt to the west, and to Turkey to the north. It will appear in Spain between the 8th and 11th centuries. In this country, you will quickly learn to appreciate it, but elsewhere in Europe, we will be wary of it for a long time, probably because of its resemblance to the poisonous plants (mandrake, datura, belladonna) of the nightshade family. By corruption of the Italian name melanzena, we will call it mala insana (literally “unhealthy apple”) and we will accuse it of driving those who consume it mad.
Today, it is grown in all hot and temperate regions of the planet. Old friend of the Arabs, it is essential to the cuisine of the Middle East, where it is called “poor man’s caviar”. The Turks boast of having created a thousand recipes to enhance it; the Spanish introduced it to Latin America in the 16th century, but it did not appear in North America until 150 years later. Until the 1950s, only varieties with large purple fruits were produced for human consumption, the others being reserved for the ornamental garden.
Researchers analyzed samples of several varieties of eggplant and found that the more bitter the fruit, the richer it was in phenolic compounds, powerful antioxidants. In Asia and Africa, we readily eat bitter fruits, but in the West, we sulk anything that reminds bitterness, and this, against all logic, since human beings have a group of taste buds specialized in recognition and l appreciation of this flavor. Researchers are therefore looking for a way to genetically modify eggplants so that they are both free from bitterness and rich in phenolic compounds.
- Sow in indoor containers 8 to 12 weeks before the last frost is expected and keep at temperatures of 24 ºC to 29 ºC throughout the duration of germination.
- Before transplanting, harden the plants for two weeks by exposing them to outside temperatures during the day.
- Transplant when the soil is well warmed to a distance of 45 to 54 cm between plants, less for varieties with small fruits. Space the rows 1 m apart.
- Protect the plants with an agrotextile if the temperature drops below 15 ºC.
- Irrigation: 2.5 cm to 5 cm per week. Ensure that irrigation is regular throughout the season.
- Fertilization: a good compost in the transplanting hole and foliar waterings with algae and fish extract every two weeks.
The flea beetle can cause serious damage to young plants. Protect with an agrotextile or treat with Safers’ soap. The Colorado potato beetle can also be a serious problem. Destroy insects by hand or treat with rotenone. Drop ladybugs, its natural predators, or encourage those who are already in the garden to stay there.
Ecology and environment
Methyl bromide is widely used in agriculture (second on the list of pesticides) against insects, bacteria and microscopic fungi which are harmful to crops and against certain species of weeds. Its use in the cultivation of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and strawberries is widespread. It is also used in warehouses to fight against insects and mold which can affect the quality of products.
But it is also a very harmful product for the ozone layer, the water table, animal life, marine ecosystems and plants. It is also toxic to humans (respiratory failure, prostate cancer and death), to the point that its use requires specialized training. It is also dangerous for animal life, marine ecosystems and plants.
At a meeting of the “Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer” held under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Program, it was decided that the use of methyl bromide should be banned in the year 2005 in the industrialized countries and in the year 2015 in the developing countries. However, in March 2004, 11 industrialized signatory countries, led by the United States, requested that the exemptions for “critical uses” provided for in the Protocol be extended for at least another year.
An additional 13,500 metric tonnes of methyl bromide was therefore granted to the 11 requesting countries, of which 65% were in the United States. The pretext? We have not yet found safe and economical alternatives to this product, despite the fact that ten years have passed since we decided to ban it.
However, in a document published by the Ozone Secretariat of the United Nations Environment Program, and made available to producers in all countries, it is stated that there are alternatives for 90% of uses methyl bromide. In Denmark and the Netherlands, their jobs have already been eliminated. Not only has the yield not been negatively affected, but we have even managed to increase the production and profitability of crops treated otherwise.
Among the many solutions proposed, include crop rotation, summerfallow, the use of green manure, mulch and compost, old techniques like the world which undoubtedly allowed our peasant ancestors to survive without methyl bromide. . In addition, two other promising methods could be implemented: biofumigation, which consists of cultivating and burying, before establishing the fragile culture, plants which release natural fumigants into the soil, especially those of the cabbage family and mustard; solarization, which consists in sterilizing the soil by covering it with a transparent plastic sheet and by heating it for a few weeks under the action of the sun. This technique, which has been known for several years, is used in at least 40 countries. In addition, it costs up to two or three times less than methyl bromide applications.