Most commonly purple, the spongy, absorbent fruit is used in several cuisines. Typically used as a vegetable in cooking, it is a berry by botanical definition. As a member of the genus Solanum, it is related to the tomato, chilli pepper, and potato, although those are of the New World while the eggplant is of the Old World.
In the below article, Pritish Kumar Halder explained eggplant and its associated facts with it.
Like the tomato, its skin and seeds can be eaten, but, like the potato, it is usually eaten cooked. Eggplant is nutritionally low in macronutrient and micronutrient content, but the capability of the fruit to absorb oils and flavor into its flesh through cooking expands its use in the culinary arts.
It was originally domesticated from the wild nightshade species thorn or bitter apple, S. incanum, probably with two independent domestications: one in South Asia, and one in East Asia. In 2018, China and India combined accounted for 87% of the world production of eggplants.
The name eggplant is usual in North American English and Australian English. First recorded in 1763, the word “eggplant” was originally applied to white cultivars, which look very much like hen’s eggs (see image). Similar names are widespread in other languages, such as the Icelandic term eggaldin or the Welsh planhigyn ŵy.
The white, egg-shaped varieties of the eggplant’s fruits are also known as garden eggs, a term first attested in 1811. The Oxford English Dictionary records that between 1797 and 1888, the name vegetable egg was also used.
Different cultivars of the plant produce fruit of different size, shape, and color, though typically purple. The less common white varieties of eggplant are also known as Easter white eggplants, garden eggs, Casper or white eggplant. The most widely cultivated varieties—cultivars—in Europe and North America today are elongated ovoid, 12–25 cm (4+1⁄2–10 in) long and 6–9 cm (2+1⁄2–3+1⁄2 in) broad with a dark purple skin.
A much wider range of shapes, sizes, and colours is grown in India and elsewhere in Asia. Larger cultivars weighing up to a kilogram (2.2 pounds) grow in the region between the Ganges and Yamuna Rivers, while smaller ones are found elsewhere. Colors vary from white to yellow or green, as well as reddish-purple and dark purple.
Some cultivars have a colur gradient—white at the stem, to bright pink, deep purple or even black. Green or purple cultivars with white striping also exist. Chinese cultivars are commonly shaped like a narrower, slightly pendulous cucumber. Also, Asian cultivars of Japanese breeding are grown.
Raw eggplant is 92% water, 6% carbohydrates, 1% protein, and has negligible fat (table). It provides low amounts of essential nutrients, with only manganese having a moderate percentage (11%) of the Daily Value. Minor changes in nutrient composition occur with season, environment of cultivation (open field or greenhouse), and genotype.
Cultivation and pests
In tropical and subtropical climates, eggplant can be sown in the garden. Eggplant grown in temperate climates fares better when transplanted into the garden after all danger of frost has passed. Eggplant prefers hot weather, and when grown in cold climates or in areas with low humidity, the plants languish or fail to set and produce mature fruit.
Seeds are typically started eight to 10 weeks prior to the anticipated frost-free date. S. melongena is included on a list of low flammability plants, indicating that it is suitable for growing within a building protection zone.
Many of the pests and diseases that afflict other solanaceous plants, such as tomato, capsicum, and potato, are also troublesome to eggplants. For this reason, it should generally not be planted in areas previously occupied by its close relatives. However, since eggplants can be particularly susceptible to pests such as whiteflies, they are sometimes grown with slightly less susceptible plants, such as chili pepper, as a sacrificial trap crop. Four years should separate successive crops of eggplants to reduce pest pressure.
In 2020, world production of eggplants was 57 million tonnes, led by China with 65% of the total and India with 23%.
The browning of eggplant flesh results from the oxidation of polyphenols, such as the most abundant phenolic compound in the fruit, chlorogenic acid.