Eggplant

Late December isn’t the time I’d normally expect to be doing a post about eggplant. But as we’re preparing our 2015 seed orders and garden planning I realized that eggplant is another one of those vegetables that were not part of the food culture here when I was growing up, but has now become an important part of our farm.

I don’t recall ever eating eggplant until I was an adult.  I was probably married before I ever had any.

It was one of the veggies that I added to the summer gardens as an experiment one year. I remember thinking the experiment was a failure, as flea beetles skeletonized the leaves.  But I learned that summer how tough the plants are, as they eventually outgrew the flea beetle damage and produced fruit right up to the first frost.

We grow a lot of eggplant now.  During the summer we eat a lot of it, put up a lot of it and sell a lot of it.   Last year’s crop was our best ever.

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It’s tempting to add some new varieties this year.  Baker Creek offers lots of interesting heirlooms from around the world. But I think for now we’re just going to stick with standard Italian and Asian varieties.  I don’t think Danville is ready for white or green eggplant.

As with everything we’re ordering we have to keep in mind that there is a limit on how much we can grow.  Our focus has to be on the tried-and-true varieties that we know we’re going to like.

Whether we add some unusual new variety or not, we expect to have plenty of delicious eggplant next year.  It’s one of the best things about summer here now.  What was once only an experiment is now a staple of our summer gardens.

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17 comments on “Eggplant

  1. nebraskadave says:

    Bill, I was quite surprised as well that eggplant would be so durable. This last summer when growing conditions were terrible for gardens, eggplant survived it just fine and gave a sizable amount of harvest. Folks here still don’t eat eggplant all that much. Those that do will take one maybe two but that’s it for the garden year. I think it’s because they just don’t know how to fix it to eat it. I’m cutting back on the eggplants in 2015 because I end up with tons of harvest that I can’t possibly eat and I can’t give it away so it just gets composted. You are in the process of leaning what folks will buy. I’m learning what folks will take if I give it to them. My biggest thrill in gardening is the growing and caring for it.

    Have a great gardening planning day.

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    • Bill says:

      We had to compost some eggplant this year too. We had a bumper crop and ended up with more than we could handle. It seemed a pity to put it in compost, but nothing goes to waste!

      We’ve had some trouble getting people to try it (as it isn’t part of our traditional cuisine here). But some who have tried it for the first time have ended up coming back for more. We sold a lot of it to a local Italian restaurant last year too. We’ll probably grow about the same amount this year as I’m expecting increased demand.

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  2. farmerkhaiti says:

    I love eggplant, but our climate isn’t the best for getting fruit in time before it gets too cold again- even in the hoophouse, although I did grow some of the tallest platns ever this year, who were just begining to flower abundantly when we got our cold fall. I love that Ping Tung Long variety, I hope to have better luck this upcoming year, so tender and delicious! every year I am learning which plants need to be started WAY in advance, and I think eggplant is totally worth it. How do you like to put it up and use it off-season?

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    • Bill says:

      It’s so good. I hope you have better luck this year. Cherie is the expert on food storage, not me, so I’m not exactly sure of everything she did. I know she pickled some and she also froze some (after cooking it in a soup or casserole).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful shiny crop you had last year! Over here in Europe we call them aubergines. I love the big ones in layered moussaka as they cover a large area, but the thin ones are lovely sliced in ratatouille. Yum! Have a great new year 🙂

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    • Bill says:

      “Eggplant” isn’t a very appetizing name is it? My understanding is that it got that name because the most common variety was white and looked like an egg. Of course the kind we grow looks nothing like an egg and some people wrongly assume that it has that name because it tastes like an egg.

      We love ratatouille and we ate a LOT of it this summer. It is arguably the perfect summer dish.

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  4. Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

    Yup, it’s good that growth can occur in many different directions – but most especially in one’s diet; ) How do you usually prepare your Eggplant?
    And – too funny, but I have a garden trug exactly the same as the green one in your photo – that’s a LOT of Eggplant!

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  5. We enjoy eggplant, but I too would love to know some more ways to prepare it – we make baba ganoush, eggplant parmigiana, moussaka, and I sometimes bread slices and fry them. We also brush them with olive oil and salt/pepper and grill them. I’ll admit, the teens among us only like one or two of these dishes, the rest seem to be only adult fare in this household. I have to say too, that I’ve only had the classic type from the top picture – do the Asian looking ones taste very different?

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    • Bill says:

      We do those too (except moussaka–I’m not sure I know what that is). Cherie pickled some this year–which is great. She makes an awesome cheesy eggplant casserole and some excellent eggplant-based soups. Sometimes we have it on pizza and we LOVE ratatouille. As I just recommended to Deb, go to Cherie’s blog and search “eggplant” and I’m sure you’ll find some of her favorite recipes. http://renaissancegardenblog.blogspot.com/

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  6. avwalters says:

    I LOVE eggplant. I can’t do the white ones, though. Way too creepy to me.

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    • Bill says:

      🙂 Who want’s an eggplant that looks like an egg?

      If you don’t already have it, you should get the Baker Creek seed catalog. They have a huge selection of unusual eggplants from around the world. Quite interesting. But like you, I’m just going to stick with purple for now.

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  7. Woody says:

    Eggplant is grown here for my wife only. I have never been able to acquire a taste for it unless fried and covered with cheese and a hearty meat/tomato sauce, which makes me ponder exactly why I would want to eat a veggie with all of the above requirements. They are a beautiful plant though.

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    • Deb Weyrich-Cody says:

      Eggplant was never one I grew up with either, but this summer I did have access and used it to make a roasted eggplant dip called Baba Ganoush: a recipe very similar to Cherie’s Eggplant Caviar (Thanks Cherie!: )
      Apparently they’re like tomato sauce recipes… Every family has their own version; ) Mine never made it that far, but apparently you can freeze it for later.
      I guess it’s like fresh Zucchini, you can’t wait for it to be ready then, once it is you stuff yourself silly until you’re completely tired of it and then you start cooking up those meals for the freezer that’ll be so appreciated next year when you’ve been outside working all day and it’s too hot to cook…

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    • Bill says:

      That makes me smile. Fried and covered with cheese and a good meat/tomato sauce, anything would taste good.

      My mother doesn’t like it either. She just doesn’t like the texture of it. We eat it in zesty soup that I’ll bet you’d like.

      They are pretty plants. The blooms are especially nice.

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