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AUBERGINES

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DID YOU KNOW?

Aubergines or Eggplants are not really vegetables they are in fact berries. Which is not that strange, considering other fruits are commonly mistaken for vegetables - like tomatoes.

Eggplants and tomatoes are actually related. They both belong to the nightshade family with the famous literary poison - deadly nightshade. But don't worry, eggplant isn't toxic (at least not in normal amounts).

Ancient Persian philosophers ascribed all kinds of ailments to them - from pimples to epilepsy.

People in the U.K. called them aubergines. The word "aubergine" goes all the way back to the ancient Indian language Sanskrit. The eggplant originated in India, where it is considered to be the King of Vegetables.

The word "eggplant" that we use in North America comes from British-colonized India, where at the time, a small, white, egg-like variety of the vegetable was all the rage.

In Renaissance Italy, it was called a mala insana or "crazy apple".

Japan even has a proverb about eggplant: "The happiest omen for a New Year is first Mount Fuji, then the falcon, and lastly eggplant."

Image by Nina Luong
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WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?

Aubergine is native to the Indian subcontinent. It has been cultivated in eastern and southern Asia before the time records were kept.

 

However, it wasn’t introduced to the Western world until the middle ages.

 

Today the aubergine is grown in many different countries, and many of the largest producers are still situated in Asia.

 

China leads the worldwide production at 19 million metric tons, followed by India at 10 metric tons. Large quantities are also grown in Egypt, Turkey, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Italy, the Philippines and Spain.

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HOW DO THEY GROW?

Aubergines must be sown early (February to March) and kept in a warm, sheltered spot to ensure a good crop.

 

Although they can be grown outside in milder areas of the country, the best results come from growing plants on a window sill indoors or in a greenhouse.

 

Large fruited varieties such as 'Black Beauty' should yield three to six aubergines per plant. Smaller fruited varieties like 'Fairy Tale' will produce at least 10 aubergines per plant.