12 Things You Didn't Know About Eggplant

Eggplants love oil, hate the fridge, and come in many shapes and colors, but what else don’t you know about this aubergine?

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Eggplants, like these, are delicious in a variety of recipes.

If eggplants could talk, they would tell you to douse them in oil and cook them on high, and that if you treat them right, they won’t be bitter. Eggplant, called aubergine in the UK and in French, is one of the most versatile ingredients in terms of shape, color, and size, appearing in glossy shades of white, purple, orange, green, and striped combinations of one or more. This staple is served grilled, fried, sautéed, steamed, and, on occasion, raw in almost every cuisine, from Italian to Indian.

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With varieties that range in size from inches, like the Fairytale eggplant, to the large American eggplant that grows upwards of one foot long and certain Asian types that can grow even longer, eggplants require some decision-making depending upon the variety you wish to use.

Next time you spot the dainty fairytale eggplant at the farmers market, snatch some up, split, and grill, then top the smoky, vibrant result with a creamy, cool yogurt sauce. Throw the thin-skinned Japanese eggplant directly on the fire until its exterior begins to char. Slice the rich, purple Italian eggplant,  add salt to draw out the bitterness, then bake into a sauced and cheesed eggplant Parmigiano-Reggiano recipe.

Eggplants may seem commonplace, but they have plenty of secrets to share. From their Eastern origins to their curious name, we have uncovered some of the most unusual eggplant facts to round out our list of things you didn’t know about this striking vegetable.

A Berry Good Poser

Photo Modified: Flickr / Jay & Melissa Malouin / CC BY-SA 4.0

Eggplant is a type of berry.

Eggplant poses as a vegetable, but is actually a member of the berry family. Eggplant grows on a large vine-like plant. Try this slightly bitter aubergine in this Creole Eggplant Mozzarella Melt recipe.

Addictive Seeds

Photo Modified: Flickr / jareed / CC BY 4.0

Eggplant seeds contain nicotine.

Eggplant seeds contain nicotine, and eggplant has the highest concentration of nicotine of any plant. The nicotine gives eggplants that characteristically bitter flavor, but don’t worry too much, because 20 pounds of eggplant contain only as much nicotine as one cigarette. Try some eggplant in this Eggplant Parmesan recipe.

 


Angela Carlos is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Find her on Twitter and tweet @angelaccarlos.

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