Eggplant

photo c/o Mette Nielsen

Authored by: Michelle Jebsen, Public Health Nutrition Student

If there was a contest for the most beautiful vegetable the long prized, glossy, deep purple eggplant might just win the prize. Their beauty is now being exerted in some of the vendors at the market. Why not beautify your kitchen counter with a local eggplant this time of year?

Eggplants have never been one of the more popular vegetables, but they have a rich history. Eggplants grew wild in India and were first cultivated in China in the 5th century B.C. Today the leading growers of eggplants are Italy, Turkey, Egypt, China, and Japan, but they can easily be found in local gardens right here in Minnesota usually from August to October. Eggplants are part of the nightshade family of vegetables, which also includes tomatoes, bell peppers, and potatoes. They grow similar to tomatoes and hang from vines of plants that can grow several feet in height. Although most people are familiar with the deep purple variety, they can also be orange, light yellow, jade green, lavender, as well as range in sizes and shapes from that of a small tomato to a large zucchini.

Don’t let the different texture discourage you from ingesting the rich nutrition eggplants offer. The nutrients that are notably high in eggplants are fiber, potassium, folate, thiamin, and niacin. Choose eggplants at the market that are firm and heavy for their size. Eggplants are highly perishable and should be stored in the refrigerator and used preferably within a few days of purchase. Don’t be stumped on scrumptious and simple ways to prepare your eggplant during this time of year. Treat them like potatoes and grill them with peppers, onions, garlic, and other vegetables you can find at the market right now. Another easy option is stop making hummus for the time being and make babaganoush for your sandwich or vegetable dip. Just puree eggplant with garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and olive oil and it makes a delicious treat. There is no better time than the present to purchase and enjoy potentially the most beautiful vegetable being sold at the market.