Did you know that egg plants or aubergines have nicotine in them – they come from the same family group as the tobacco plant along with tomatoes, potatoes and chili peppers - and all edible members of the nightshade family are considered to be fruit?
But don't worry, it would take 20 lbs of aubergines to equal the amount of nicotine of just one cigarette.
The nicotine aside, there are plenty of good things to say about aubergines
- Aubergine is a good source of calcium, potassium, phosphorus and folic acid as well as beta-carotene.
- Aubergine is low in calories.
- Aubergines are highly regarded for their low nitrate content.
- Aubergines not only block the formation of free radicals, they also reduce cholesterol levels in the body.
- One of the special antioxidants in aubergines is nasunin which has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage. In animal studies, nasunin protected the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes. Cell membranes are almost entirely composed of lipids and are responsible for protecting the cell from free radicals, letting nutrients in and wastes out, and receiving instructions from messenger molecules that tell the cell which activities it should perform.
Aubergine has a different name depending on the country of origin
- It is called "eggplant" in the United States, Canada and Australia because the first eggplants in those countries were purely ornamental and featured egg-shaped white and yellow fruit. Today this variety of eggplant is called "white egg".
- In Britain and France it is called "aubergine”.
- In South Africa and India it is called "brinjal."
- In Italy it is called "melanzane" which means "crazy apple".
Colors of the aubergine
Aubergines have several different varieties which all differ in size, color and shape. While the colors range from purple to white and green, there are others that are black or yellow. Sometimes the purple comes in a shade of red. Aubergines are popular in food recipes worldwide and form a large part of many different cultures.
How to choose your aubergine
Choose aubergines that are firm and heavy for their size with smooth, shy skins. The color should always be vivid. Because the aubergines are quite fragile, check that they are free of discoloration, scars and bruises.
To test for the ripeness of an aubergine, gently press the skin with the pad of your thumb. If it springs back, it is ripe. Aubergines are sensitive to both heat and cold and should ideally be stored at around 50 degrees Farenheit or 10 degrees Celsius.
Do not cut an aubergine before you store it as it perishes quickly once its skin has been punctured or its inner flesh exposed. Place uncut and unwashed in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep for a few days.
If you purchase aubergine wrapped in plastic film, remove at once as it will inhibit the aubergine from breathing and degrade its freshness
The old practice of salting and rinsing aubergines to reduce bitterness is not as necessary these days because modern plants are less bitter.
Aubergines can be baked, roasted in the oven or steamed. If baking whole, pierce the skin several times with a fork to make small holes for the steam to escape. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 177 degrees Celsius for 15 to 25 minutes, depending upon size. If a knife or fork inserts easily, it is ready.
A couple of words of warning about aubergines
Many people are sensitive or allergic to properties in aubergine and other nightshade family plants.
These plants may worsen the symptoms of arthritis