Eggplant, also known as aubergine (Solanum melongena), is a nightshade species that is cultivated for its edible fruit. The term eggplant is used in Australia and North America while British English uses the term aubergine. Brinjal is the common name of this plant in South Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.
Description Of The Plant
The eggplant is a tropical perennial plant cultivated as a half-hardy annual in temperate climates. The delicate plant has a spiny stem. The flower of the eggplant is white to purple and bears yellow stamens and a five-lobed corolla. The glossy, purple fruit is egg-shaped and the flesh is white and meaty. The eggplant grows 40 to 150 cm tall and possesses large leaves which are 5 to 10 cm in width and 10 to 20 cm in length. Soft, small seeds are present within the fruit.
History Of Cultivation
The first recorded history of the eggplant has been found in an ancient agricultural treatise of the Chinese, the Qimin Yaoshu, that was completed in 544. The plant has been cultivated in eastern and southern Asia since prehistory. The plant was also widely cultivated in Egypt. The crop was probably introduced in the Mediterranean region by the Arabs. The cultivation of the plant was already established in England by the 16th century.
Cultivars Of Eggplant
There are various cultivars of the eggplant which produce fruits of different sizes, colors, and shapes. The most widely cultivated variety that is grown in Europe has a dark, purple skin and are 12 to 25 cm long and 6 to 9 cm broad. In India and other parts of Asia, many cultivars of brinjal are grown. Colors vary from reddish and dark purple to yellow and green. Some cultivars even exhibit a color gradient from stem to the base of the fruit.
Uses Of Eggplant
The eggplant is nutritionally not too rich. It is low in carbohydrates, fat, and protein. It also provides little amounts of essential nutrients. Manganese is present in a moderate percentage in the eggplant.
Despite the low nutritional value, the eggplant forms an important part of cuisine across the world. Since the fruit is able to absorb large amounts of sauces and cooking fats, it is used in preparing very rich dishes. The meaty texture allows it to be used as a substitute for meat by vegans and vegetarians.
Over 1,600,000 hectares of cultivable land is devoted to eggplant cultivation in the world. In 2013, global eggplant production was 49.4 million tons. China contributed to 57% of this output while India accounted for 27% of the production. Egypt, Iran, and Turkey were the other major producers of this crop.