Eggplant

The purple beauty of the kitchen!

Eggplants have been long prized for their deeply purple, glossy beauty as well as unique, bitter taste and spongy texture.

Eggplants grow in a manner much like tomatoes, hanging from the vines of a plant that grows several feet in height. They are now available in markets throughout the year, but they are at their very best from August through October when they are in season.

Eggplant is an excellent source of digestion-supportive dietary fiber and bone-building manganese. It is very good source of enzyme-catalyzing molybdenum and heart-healthy potassium. Eggplant is also a good source of bone-building vitamin K and magnesium as well as heart-healthy copper, vitamin C, vitamin B6,  folate, and niacin.

In addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplant also contains important phytonutrients, many which have antioxidant activity. Phytonutrients contained in eggplant include phenolic compounds, such caffeic and chlorogenic acid, and flavonoids, such as nasunin. Nasunin is not only a potent free-radical scavenger, but is also an iron chelator. By chelating iron, nasunin lessens free radical formation with numerous beneficial results, including protecting blood cholesterol (which is also a type of lipid or fat) from peroxidation, preventing cellular damage that can promote cancer and lessening free radical damage in joints, which is a primary factor in rheumatoid arthritis.

In Greece, the main varieties of cultivated eggplants come from Leonidion, where we have the Tsakonian eggplant which is of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) featuring a 120-150 gram, long, purple fruit, from Lagadas with oval and long, dark purple fruit, weighing about 150 grams and from Syros an early variety with larger fruits that reach up to 300 grams, they are thick and round or pear-shaped and their color is dark purple.

Eggplant is a typical ingredient of the Mediterranean diet and cuisine, and Greeks enjoy it better fried in thin slices, or as a basic ingredient of moussaka. 

MLGFB Tip:

To tenderize the flesh’s texture and reduce some of its naturally occurring bitter taste, you can sweat the eggplant by salting it.

  • After cutting the eggplant into the desired size and shape, sprinkle it with salt and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes.
  • This process will pull out some of its water content and make it less permeable to absorbing any oil used in cooking.
  • Rinsing the eggplant after “sweating” will remove most of the salt.

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