Great Eggplant Varieties

June 26, 2007

As a follow up to a recent article on Growing Eggplants and a second one on Controlling Flea Beetles on Eggplants

Today I wanted to share a few rare and unusual varieties of heirloom eggplants that are available to the home gardener.

A Foreign Affair with Eggplants

Listada de Gandia EggplantDo a little research and you’ll quickly discover that eggplants are well traveled and a very international vegetable. There are many exotic varieties hailing from remote regions of Turkey, Africa, Italy, Thailand, India, China, the Ukraine, and Louisiana.

Okay, maybe Louisiana doesn’t qualify as foreign or remote but there is an heirloom eggplant called Louisiana Long Green, and a few other obviously domestic heirlooms such as the Florida High Bush and Florida Market varieties.

If you’re looking to add color, interest, and an international flair to the garden or your favorite recipes, gourmet and heirloom eggplants will help you to do just that. Following is a lineup for some incredible eggplant varieties that are both attractive and delicious!

International Heirloom Eggplants:

  • Cambodian Green Giant – Large, green fruits with light colored stripes and unique ribbed fruits.
  • Diamond – This popular Ukrainian variety offers dark purple, delicious tasting fruits.
  • Rosa Bianca – An Italian eggplant displaying beautiful shades of pink and lavender.
  • Brazilian Oval Orange Eggplant – Fruits start out green, ripening to orange and finally red.
  • Thai Yellow Egg – This heirloom eggplant from Thailand produces yellow, egg-shaped fruits.
  • Ping Tung Long – A productive slender purple fruited eggplant from Taiwan.
  • Japanese White Egg – Plants are very productive yielding large quantities of small white fruits.
  • Thai Long Green – Another heirloom eggplant from Thailand produces long, light green fruits.
  • Listada de Gandia – Purple and white striped eggplant, this one is another Italian variety.
  • Goyo Kumba – Unusual, tall and ornamental African heirloom with attractive, bright red fruits.
  • Chinese Round Mauve – This heirloom from China produces colorful medium sized eggplants.
  • Udmalbet – This green and purple striped eggplant from India turns yellowish as it ripens.

Obtaining Rare Eggplant Seeds

If you’re at all intrigued by the thought of growing rare eggplant varieties in your own backyard garden, you’ll have to begin by starting plants from seed because you’ll never find transplants of these heirloom eggplants offered for sale at your local greenhouse or garden center.

The eggplant varieties listed here are just a short sampling of what is available to the home gardener. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is one of the heirloom seed suppliers that I have turned to for a nice selection of heirloom eggplant seeds.

But if you really want to expand your horizons and grow eggplants from all over the world then you should consider becoming a member of the Seed Savers Exchange and take advantage of the opportunity to share heirloom seeds with other gardeners from all over the world!

Heirloom Eggplants in the Kitchen

Thai Long Green EggplantIf you go through the effort to obtain and grow these heirloom eggplants in your garden, it seems only right that they should receive special treatment in the kitchen. The traditional southern method for cooking them has always been to simply fry the eggplants, but that just doesn’t seem fitting for this exotic collection.

I’d personally prefer to slice and grill or even roast eggplants to avoid all the oil that is absorbed when frying them. Another way to prepare eggplants is to quickly sauté or stir fry them in a wok with gourmet mushrooms, sliced vegetables, and oh yeah… lots of garlic.

You can stuff and bake eggplants, or combine them with tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, fresh basil, and yep… more garlic, to create a delicious ratatouille. But I’m really curious about what types of gourmet recipes these eggplants would find their way into in their own native countries!

This post will be submitted as part of the Weekend Herb Blogging Group, so hopefully later this week some of the extraordinary chefs that participate in the project will offer a few suggestions for turning heirloom eggplants into international culinary delights.

Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts:

  • I just discovered The Seed Savers Exchange and they have several ornamental varieties of eggplant I want to try next year. My favorite is the Nipple Fruit Plant. Unfortunately it’s not edible but is used in floral arrangements. The Striped Toga is lovely too.

  • I love the idea of heirloom eggplant! I do have some in my garden, but they are just the common type (Black Beauty maybe, is there a type with that name?) I’ve grilled eggplant quite a bit but no fancy recipes, just brush the eggplant with a bit of homemade vinaigrette (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maybe a bit of garlic puree or mustard). It’s quite delicious. I’ll have to experiment with it a bit this year.

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  • Brian

    I have a purple eggplant which has been growing fantastically until last week when it’s leaves began to turn brown and now the whole plant is looking like its going to die?

    Any ideas on why this is and how to fix it?


  • Kenny Point

    Brian, has your eggplant been receiving sufficient water. My eggplants were a little stressed by the drought but now they have recovered and are continuing to grow nicely and produce new fruits.

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  • yendra

    This source really helped me for my assignment. Thanks

  • i love eggplant because it is the great alternative

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  • Judy Matzen

    I would like to know where to buy Pala Eggplant and Edirne Purple Striped Eggplant seeds. Thank you for your help,
    Judy Matzen, Woodstock, IL

  • Kenny Point

    Judy I am not familiar with the Pala or Edirne eggplant varieties but I would try Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds or the Seed Savers Exchange Organization as a potential source.

  • I grow the Listada de Gandia, this website claims it’s an Italian variety, I was under the impression that it was a Spanish variety. Gandia is a city on the eastern coast of Spain, on the Med. Sea. Also, “listada” means “striped” in Spanish. Not trying to sound snobish, just saying.

  • Kenny Point

    Wow, I’m beginning to get a complex with all the fact checking around here lately! 🙂

    I did a quick little google and here is what I came up with… looks like most of the seed catalogs list Listada de Gandia as an Italian variety… but the first source identified it as an “Heirloom from France about 1850″ and then went on to describe it as an “egg-shaped Italian beauty.” My Spanish is pretty rusty but maybe it’s an Italian variety with a French origin and a Spanish name, go figure. All I know for sure is that it is a beautiful looking eggplant and I like to grow it!

  • AJ

    Would stay away from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds – lovely catalog, but the seed for one of the peppers and one of the pumpkins I received had been crossed with something else and did not grow true to form – when they asked me if I wanted a replacement pack all I could think was – right, spend a whole season to find out the seed is bad again.

  • Kenny Point

    Hi Aj, sorry you had to deal with that problem. I guess mix-ups do happen but I have never had an issue with any seeds that I have purchased from Baker Creek and think that they do a very good job with their seeds. It was probably an isolated incident, and I know it doesn’t make up for the time and effort spent on growing bad seed but I would take them up on their offer for a replacement.

  • sandra prettyman

    So are all the purple and white eggplants Italian? Or is there another name for them? Mine are like a mini football and have stips of whitl going down them.

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