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
Do 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
If 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.
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