This relative of the potato and tomato was first cultivated in India and China as early as the 5th century B.C. It has only been known to the western world since the 1500s. The fruit is technically a berry with edible seeds. The seeds are bitter due to alkaloids that are closely related to tobacco. The popular name 'Eggplant' in the US, Canada, and Australia comes from the mainly white or yellow varieties cultivated by the English in the 18th century.
Availability may vary by variety and with weather conditions.
Eggplants are sensitive to both heat and cold and should ideally be stored at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place uncut and unwashed eggplant in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator crisper or on a shelf if it is too large.
Wash the eggplant first and then cut off the ends. Use a stainless steel knife to prevent the flesh from turning black.
Most eggplants can be eaten either with or without their skin. However, the larger ones and those that are white in color generally have tough skins, you can peel it before cutting or if you are baking it, you can scoop out the flesh once it is cooked.
After cutting the eggplant into the desired size and shape, sprinkle it with salt and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes. This will remove some of the water and some of the bitterness.
Eggplant can be baked, roasted in the oven, or steamed. If baking it whole, pierce the eggplant several times with a fork to make small holes for the steam to escape. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 25 minutes.
Try adding it to an Indian Curry Stir Fry.
Purée roasted eggplant, garlic, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil to make babganoush.