We’re finally growing eggplant! To be honest, it is one of those veggies that we’ve never loved. However, a number of members have expressed considerable fondness for eggplant, and Joanna can’t resist trying new crops, so we’ve finally decided to give this one a try. The plants have set their first fruits, so now we just have to figure out when to pick them and how to prepare them. The best way to ensure a future of eggplant on this farm is to convince us of some ways to use it that we can’t live without. Please use the comment thread to share your favorite preparation tips, techniques, & recipes.
Apparently people aren’t the only ones who like eggplant. We’ve known that eggplant has a reputation for being just a little bit fussy, and we knew to expect herbivory from flea beetles, but we’ve been impressed by the sheer diversity of other insects nibbling on (or devouring) the plants: aphids, hornworms, Japanese beetles, grasshoppers, spotted cucumber beetles, and, most recently, an outbreak of whiteflies (a pest we don’t remember experiencing here before). A plant that is attractive to so many pests must produce fruits that are delicious, right? Assuming the pests don’t do too much damage, we’re hoping to have quantities suitable for distribution in a couple of weeks. (Keep in mind we have zero experience estimating eggplant maturity dates!)
VARIETIES FOR 2013
For our first year producing eggplant, we chose four varieties based on catalog descriptions of flavor, hardiness (with respect to drought & insect pressure), productivity, and time to maturity. These photos show the status of some of the baby eggplants as of several days ago:
Early Black Egg (photo on left) is a standard purple type, but a bit smaller & earlier to mature than the common Black Beauty variety. Listada de Gandia (photo at center) is a white & purple striped Italian heirloom with a thin skin. Ping Tung Long (photo on right) is a pale purple variety that grows long & slender. Rosita is a pale purple/pink eggplant with descriptions that highly praise its flavor & lack of bitterness; this is the only variety that hasn’t set fruit yet, though we don’t have quite as many plants of this variety. Sometimes the tastiest varieties produce the least…
There are some excellent tips & tasty-sounding recipes for eggplant from this newsletter from Fair Share Farm (a KC-area CSA), but we’d love to hear more ideas from our members!