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The Truth and Facts About Eggplants

Updated on July 23, 2012

Eggplant - The Fruit

First glance may appear as though the eggplant is a vegetable, but take a closer look and you will find that eggplants are actually a fruit. Part of the nightshade family, eggplants are also known as aubergine, guinea squash, brinjal, garden eggs and melongene in other parts of the world. In fact, the United States is just one of four countries that refer to the fruit by the name eggplant. Still, it remains renowned for providing the perfect foundation for some specialty cuisines. Surprisingly, the technical classification of this particular plant would even go as far as to call it a berry. When growing eggplants, it is not surprising to see the plant grow as tall as five feet, but wild eggplants have been known to grow even taller. Native to Indian culture, the story of how eggplant came to be what it is today is quite intriguing, to say the least.

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Until Cooked, Eggplant Has a Bitter Taste

Unlike most fruits, it isn't recommended to consume eggplant without cooking it beforehand. Although eating raw eggplant is certainly not dangerous it does contain a bitter, generally undesirable taste when consumed in the raw. Cooking the eggplant thoroughly works wonders to soften the fruit and bring out the best flavors.

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Eggplants are Not Limited to the Color Purple

Contrary to common belief, eggplants can be found in colors other than purple. Though purple is the most common, they also come in green and white. Even more surprising is the simple fact that not all eggplants even look alike. Just as squash and apples come in a variety of different types, eggplants see the same differences. Green eggplants are typically similar to grapefruit in size and vary wildly from the look of the average purple eggplant.

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Eggplants Share a Close Relation with Tomatoes and Potatoes

Like the eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes are also classified as nightshades. Paprika, Belladonna, tobacco and Jimsonweed are also part of the nightshades family. One of the main characteristics of nightshades is that plants within the category are known to produce high amounts of alkaloids.

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Eggplant Contains Nicotine

Surprisingly, eggplant has more nicotine in it than any other existing edible plants. Although that seems a bit scary, it would take consuming nearly 20 pounds of eggplant to gain the nicotine content of a single cigarette. On the contrary, the plant also provides a rich source of potassium and folic acid, vital nutrients for pregnant women.

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Battle Eggplant Allergies by Cooking the Fruit

Unlike other allergies that can arise regardless of how exposure to the allergen occurs, an eggplant allergy can sometimes be overcome simply by making sure to cook the plant thoroughly. Even if eating a raw eggplant causes an allergic reaction, the same may not necessarily be true once it has been cooked.

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Planting Eggplants Where Other Nightshades Have Grown is a Very Bad Idea

Because of the diseases and pests that are common to nightshade members, it is not advisable to plant eggplant on ground that has been home to any other member of the family for at least four years. Doing so could risk exposing the plants to bacteria and pests that may still be lingering from the last crop.

Menorcan-Style Aubergines

Of course, eggplants are a major contributor to recipes all over the world. Menorca, in particular, is among the leading specialty fruits available and are incorporated into many of the local dishes. Menorcan-Style Stuffed Aubergines and Zaalouk really embrace the flavor off eggplants and bring out the best of Menorcan cuisine. Roasting eggplants and using them in salads or pastas are also great ways to add a healthy touch to a meal.

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Stuffed Eggplant Recipe

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    • SAFlights profile image
      Author

      SAFlights 6 years ago from South Africa

      Thank you all! Never knew I could find any fruit or vegetable this interesting, only shows how little we really know about the things that surround us.

    • Laura du Toit profile image

      Laura du Toit 6 years ago from South Africa

      Very interesting and well-presented hub!

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 6 years ago from Houston TX

      Good hub with wonderful pics,thanks for sharing.

    • Trish_M profile image

      Tricia Mason 6 years ago from The English Midlands

      Thank you for that interesting article.

      I really like aubergines and found your hub and photos most rewarding!!!

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      Oh, this was very interesting. And now I feel hungry!