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Florida Produce: Eggplant

September 10, 2009

Last week I went over the benefits and uses of the cucumber. This week, I’m going to talk a little about eggplant. Most of my coworkers swear by eggplant, saying it is one of the best things to cook with, because it picks up the flavor of whatever you are cooking.  I think eggplant is good when someone cooks it for me, but I’m not exactly comfortable cooking it myself.

Eggplant 4So, I like to try and challenge myself to cook and try different things (like my promise to try seafood, even though that never panned out), maybe I’ll give eggplant a try when it comes in season. Until then here are some tips and how to’s on Florida eggplant.

Eggplant is actually a fruit that we use as a vegetable. Grown mostly in the central and southern parts of the state, it is available from October through June, with peak months of March, early April and May.

How to buy
Select eggplants that have a smooth, glossy skin that is free of scars. They should be firm; soft eggplants are usually bitter.

Tips for storage
Keep them cool after purchase and use them within three to four days. Eggplants do not like cold and can brown and alter in flavor when refrigerated.

Cooking tips
Eggplants can be bitter.  The best way to combat this is to slice and lightly salt them. Allow them to drain on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Make sure to rinse and pat dry before cooking. This procedure also reduces the amount of oil they will absorb when cooking. Eggplants can be eaten raw, but tend to be very bitter when not cooked.

Flavors well with
Tomatoes, cheese, basil, oregano, marjoram, olives, garlic, capers

Other uses
In a recent study, eggplant was found to absorb more fat than any other vegetable – even more than an equal portion of french fries – so watch how much oil you put in that pan!

And because every post is better with a recipe, here’s one for Eggplant Rollatini. I tried this myself (because our Chef Justin cooked it) and it was good! Click on the link for the recipe.

Eggplant Rollatini

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