|Eggplant or aubergine|
Solanum ovigerum Dunal
"Eggplant" is the common name in North American and Australian English but British English uses "aubergine". It is known in South Asia, Southeast Asia and South Africa as brinjal. Other common names are melongene, garden egg, or guinea squash.
The fruit is widely used in cooking. As a member of the genus Solanum, it is related to both the tomato and the potato. It was originally domesticated from the wild nightshade species, the thorn or bitter apple, S. incanum, probably with two independent domestications, one in South Asia and one in East Asia.
The eggplant is a delicate, tropical perennial often cultivated as a tender or half-hardy annual in temperate climates. It grows 40 to 150 cm (16 to 59 in) tall, with large, coarsely lobed leaves that are 10 to 20 cm (3.9 to 7.9 in) long and 5 to 10 cm (2.0 to 3.9 in) broad. Semiwild types can grow much larger, to 225 cm (7.38 ft) with large leaves over 30 cm (12 in) long and 15 cm (5.9 in) broad. The stem is often spiny. The flower is white to purple, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. The egg-shaped glossy purple fruit has white flesh with a meaty texture. The cut surface of the flesh rapidly turns brown when the fruit is cut open. On wild plants, the fruit is less than 3 cm (1.2 in) in diameter, but very much larger in cultivated forms, reaching 30 cm (12 in) or more in length.
Etymology and regional names
The plant and vegetable have a profusion of English names: eggplant (North America, Australia), aubergine (Britain), brinjal (South Asia, South Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, and West Indies, Trinidad), melongene (Caribbean), and formerly melongena and mad-apple.
The word "eggplant" was first recorded in 1767, and was originally applied to white varieties; some 18th-century European cultivars were small, round, yellow or white, resembling goose or hen's eggs.
The other names, even mad-apple, all ultimately derive from a Dravidian word with reflexes in modern Malayalam vaṟutina and Tamil vaṟutuṇai, transmitted through Sanskrit vātigama, Prakrit vāiṃaṇa, Persian بادنجان bādingān, and Arabic bāḏinjān باذنجان.
The Arabic name is the common source of all the European names for this plant, but through two distinct paths of transmission, with the melongene family coming through the eastern Mediterranean, and the aubergine family through the western Mediterranean.
In the western Mediterranean, the Arabic (al)-bāḏinjān was borrowed as Spanish alberengena and berenjena, Catalan albergínia, and Portuguese beringela, whence the modern French aubergine (and the earlier albergine, albergaine, albergame, belingèle), the source of the British English aubergine.
|“||...probably there is no word of the kind which has undergone such extraordinary variety of modifications, whilst retaining the same meaning, as this...||”|
In the eastern Mediterranean, bāḏinjān was borrowed into Byzantine Greek first as ματιζάνιον, then modified to μελιτζάνα melitzána and melanzana, influenced by Greek μελανο- 'black'. This came into Italian as melongiana and melanzana, and into Medieval Latin as melongena. The Latin name was later used by Tournefort as a genus name, then by Linnaeus as a species name. These forms came into English; though melongene has become obsolete, as have the French merangène, melongène/melanjan, it persists in the Caribbean English melongene or meloongen. In Italian, melanzana was interpreted as mela insana 'crazy apple'; this was translated into English as mad apple.
The Anglo-Indian name "brinjal" or brinjaul comes from the Portuguese bringella, bringiela, or beringela, whereas the name baingan or baigan, also sometimes used in English in South Asia as well as in Trinidad, appears to be reborrowed from the Persian.
The plant species originated in cultivation. It has been cultivated in southern and eastern Asia since prehistory. The first known written record of the plant is found in Qimin Yaoshu , an ancient Chinese agricultural treatise completed in 544. The numerous Arabic and North African names for it, along with the lack of the ancient Greek and Roman names, indicate it was introduced throughout the Mediterranean area by the Arabs in the early Middle Ages. A book on agriculture by Ibn Al-Awwam in 12th century Arabic Spain described how to grow aubergines. There are records from later medieval Catalan and Spanish.
The aubergine is unrecorded in England until the 16th century. An English botany book in 1597 stated:
- This plant groweth in Egypt almost everywhere... bringing forth fruit of the bigness of a great cucumber.... We have had the same in our London gardens, where it hath borne flowers, but the winter approaching before the time of ripening, it perished: nothwithstanding it came to bear fruit of the bigness of a goose egg one extraordinary temperate year... but never to the full ripeness.
Because of the plant's relationship with the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, the fruit was at one time believed to be extremely poisonous. The flowers and leaves can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities due to the presence of solanine.
Different varieties of the plant produce fruit of different size, shape, and color, though typically purple. The most widely cultivated varieties (cultivars) in Europe and North America today are elongated ovoid, 12–25 cm long (4 1⁄2 to 9 in) and 6–9 cm broad (2 to 4 in) in a dark purple skin.
A much wider range of shapes, sizes and colors is grown in India and elsewhere in Asia. Larger varieties weighing up to a kilogram (2.2 pounds) grow in the region between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, while smaller varieties are found elsewhere. Colors vary from white to yellow or green, as well as reddish-purple and dark purple. Some cultivars have a color gradient, from white at the stem to bright pink to deep purple or even black. Green or purple cultivars in white striping also exist. Chinese varieties are commonly shaped like a narrower, slightly pendulous cucumber, and are sometimes called Japanese eggplants in North America.
Oval or elongated oval-shaped and black-skinned cultivars include 'Harris Special Hibush', 'Burpee Hybrid', 'Bringal Bloom', 'Black Magic', 'Classic', 'Dusky', and 'Black Beauty'. Slim cultivars in purple-black skin include 'Little Fingers', 'Ichiban', 'Pingtung Long', and 'Tycoon'; in green skin, 'Louisiana Long Green' and 'Thai (Long) Green'; in white skin, 'Dourga'. Traditional, white-skinned, egg-shaped cultivars include 'Casper' and 'Easter Egg'. Bicolored cultivars with color gradient include 'Rosa Bianca', 'Violetta di Firenze', 'Bianca Smufata di Rosa' (heirloom), and 'Prosperosa' (heirloom). Bicolored cultivars with striping include 'Listada de Gandia' and 'Udumalapet'. In some parts of India, miniature varieties (most commonly called vengan) are popular.
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The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Many recipes advise salting, rinsing and draining of the sliced fruit (known as "degorging"), to soften it and to reduce the amount of fat absorbed during cooking, but mainly to remove the bitterness of the earlier cultivars. Some modern varieties—including large, purple varieties commonly imported into western Europe—do not need this treatment. The fruit is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, making for very rich dishes, but salting reduces the amount of oil absorbed. Eggplant, due to its texture and bulk, is sometimes used as a meat substitute in vegan and vegetarian cuisine.
Eggplant is used in the cuisine of many countries. Eggplant is widely used in its native Indian cuisine, for example in sambhar, dalma (a dal preparation with vegetables, native to Odisha), chutney, curry, and achaar. Owing to its versatile nature and wide use in both everyday and festive Indian food, it is often described (under the name "baingan" or "brinjal") as the "king of vegetables". Roasted, skinned, mashed, mixed with onions, tomatoes and spices and then slow cooked gives the South Asian dish baingan bharta or gojju, similar to salată de vinete in Romania. Another version of the dish, begun-pora (eggplant charred or burnt), is very popular in Bangladesh and the east Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal where the pulp of the vegetable is mixed with raw chopped shallot, green chilies, salt, fresh coriander and mustard oil. Sometimes fried tomatoes and deep-fried potatoes are also added, creating a dish called begun bhorta. In a dish called bharli vangi, brinjal is stuffed with ground coconut, peanuts, and masala, and then cooked in oil.
It is often stewed, as in the French ratatouille, or deep fried as in the Italian parmigiana di melanzane, the Turkish karnıyarık or Turkish and Greek musakka/moussaka, and Middle-Eastern and South Asian dishes. Eggplants can also be battered before deep-frying and served with a sauce made of tahini and tamarind. In Iranian cuisine, it is blended with whey as kashk e-bademjan, tomatoes as mirza ghasemi or made into stew as khoresh-e-bademjan. It can be sliced and deep-fried, then served with plain yogurt, (optionally) topped with a tomato and garlic sauce, such as in the Turkish dish patlıcan kızartması (meaning fried aubergines) or without yogurt as in patlıcan şakşuka. Perhaps the best-known Turkish eggplant dishes are imam bayıldı (vegetarian) and karnıyarık (with minced meat).
It may also be roasted in its skin until charred, so the pulp can be removed and blended with other ingredients, such as lemon, tahini, and garlic, as in the Arab baba ghanoush and the similar Greek melitzanosalata. A mix of roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, chopped onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, celery and spices is called zacuscă in Romania , and ajvar or pinjur in the Balkans. A Spanish dish called escalivada in Catalonia calls for strips of roasted aubergine, sweet pepper, onion and tomato. In Andalusia, eggplant is mostly cooked thinly sliced, deep fried in olive oil and served hot with honey ("Berenjenas a la Cordobesa"). In the La Mancha region of central Spain a small eggplant is pickled in vinegar, paprika, olive oil and red peppers. The result is berenjena de Almagro, Ciudad Real. A Levantine specialty is Makdous, another pickling of eggplants, stuffed with red peppers and walnuts in olive oil.
In tropical and subtropical climates, eggplant can be sown directly into the garden. Eggplant grown in temperate climates fares better when transplanted into the garden after all danger of frost is passed. Seeds are typically started eight to ten weeks prior to the anticipated frost-free date.
Many of the pests and diseases that afflict other Solanaceous plants, such as tomato, pepper (capsicum), and potato, are also troublesome to eggplants. For this reason, it should generally not be planted in areas previously occupied by its close relatives. However, since eggplants can be particularly susceptible to pests such as white flies, they are sometimes grown with slightly less susceptible plants, such as pepper, as a sacrificial trap crop.
Common North American pests include the potato beetles, flea beetles, aphids, white flies and spider mites. (Adults can be removed by hand, though flea beetles can be especially difficult to control.) A commonly used herbicide for eggplant is dimethyl tetrachloroterephthalate. Good sanitation and crop rotation practices are extremely important for controlling fungal disease, the most serious of which is Verticillium. Four years should separate successive crops of eggplants to reduce pest pressure.
Spacing should be 45 to 60 cm (18 to 24 in) between plants, depending on cultivar, and 60 to 90 cm (24 to 35 in) between rows, depending on the type of cultivation equipment being used. Mulching helps conserve moisture and prevent weeds and fungal diseases. The flowers are relatively unattractive to bees and the first blossoms often do not set fruit. Hand pollination improves the set of the first blossoms. Growers typically cut fruits from the vine just above the calyx owing to the somewhat woody stems. Flowers are complete, containing both female and male structures, and may be self-pollinated or cross-pollinated.
In 2013, global production of eggplants was 49.4 million tonnes, with 57% of output coming from China alone. India (27% of world total), Iran, Egypt and Turkey were also major producers that, combined with other Asian countries, constituted 94% of world production. More than 1,600,000 hectares (4,000,000 acres) are devoted to the cultivation of eggplants in the world.
|Top countries in eggplant
(millions of tonnes)
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||104 kJ (25 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||3 g|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||
|Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Nutritionally, raw eggplant is low in fat, protein, dietary fiber and carbohydrates (table). It also provides low amounts of essential nutrients, with only manganese having a moderate percentage (11%) of the Daily Value (table).
One of the compounds in eggplant thought to be beneficial to human health is chlorogenic acid. However, cooking at higher temperatures does somewhat alter the amount of chlorogenic acid in eggplant.
Case reports of itchy skin or mouth, mild headache, and stomach upset after handling or eating eggplant have been reported anecdotally and published in medical journals (see also oral allergy syndrome). A 2008 study of a sample of 741 people in India, where eggplant is commonly consumed, found nearly 10% reported some allergic symptoms after consuming eggplant, with 1.4% showing symptoms within less than two hours. Contact dermatitis from eggplant leaves and allergy to eggplant flower pollen have also been reported. Individuals who are atopic (genetically predisposed to developing certain allergic hypersensitivity reactions) are more likely to have a reaction to eggplant, which may be because eggplant is high in histamines. A few proteins and at least one secondary metabolite have been identified as potential allergens. Cooking eggplant thoroughly seems to preclude reactions in some individuals, but at least one of the allergenic proteins survives the cooking process.
- Solanum melongena var. esculentum common eggplant, including white varieties, with many cultivars
- Solanum melongena var. depressum dwarf eggplant
- Solanum melongena var. serpentium snake eggplant
Genetically engineered variety
Bt brinjal is a transgenic eggplant that contains a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. This variety was designed to give the plant resistance to lepidopteran insects like the brinjal fruit and shoot borer (Leucinodes orbonalis) and fruit borer (Helicoverpa armigera).
On 9 February 2010, the Environment Ministry of India imposed a moratorium on the cultivation of Bt brinjal after protests against regulatory approval of cultivated Bt brinjal in 2009, stating the moratorium would last "for as long as it is needed to establish public trust and confidence". This decision was deemed controversial, as it deviated from previous science-based, objective successes of other genetically modified crops in India.
- Melongena ovata Mill.
- Solanum album Noronha
- Solanum insanum L.
- Solanum longum Roxb.
- Solanum melanocarpum Dunal
- Solanum melongenum St.-Lag.
- Solanum oviferum Salisb.
- Prachi Salisb.
A number of subspecies and varieties have been named, mainly by Dikii, Dunal, and (invalidly) by Sweet. Names for various eggplant types, such as agreste, album, divaricatum, esculentum, giganteum, globosi, inerme, insanum, leucoum, luteum, multifidum, oblongo-cylindricum, ovigera, racemiflorum, racemosum, ruber, rumphii, sinuatorepandum, stenoleucum, subrepandum, tongdongense, variegatum, violaceum and viride, are not considered to refer to anything more than cultivar groups at best. On the other hand, Solanum incanum and cockroach berry (S. capsicoides), other eggplant-like nightshades described by Linnaeus and Allioni, respectively, were occasionally considered eggplant varieties, but this is not correct.
The eggplant has a long history of taxonomic confusion with the scarlet and Ethiopian eggplants, known as gilo and nakati, and described by Linnaeus as S. aethiopicum. The eggplant was sometimes considered a variety violaceum of that species. S. violaceum of de Candolle applies to Linnaeus' S. aethiopicum. There is an actual S. violaceum, an unrelated plant described by Ortega, which used to include Dunal's S. amblymerum and was often confused with the same author's S. brownii.
Like the potato and Solanum lichtensteinii, but unlike the tomato, which then was generally put in a different genus, the eggplant was also described as S. esculentum, in this case once more in the course of Dunal's work. He also recognized varieties aculeatum, inerme and subinerme at that time. Similarly, H.C.F. Schuhmacher and Peter Thonning named the eggplant as S. edule, which is also a junior synonym of sticky nightshade (S. sisymbriifolium). Scopoli's S. zeylanicum refers to the eggplant, and that of Blanco to S. lasiocarpum.
A 13th century Italian tradition says that the eggplant can cause insanity.
In 19th century Egypt, it was said that insanity was "more common and more violent" when the eggplant is in season, that is, in the summer.
Flowers of the Thai eggplant
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Brinjal (Solanum melongena), is an easily cultivated plant belonging to the family Solanaceae. Its fruit is high in nutrition and commonly consumed as a vegetable. The fruit and other parts of the plant are used in traditional medicine.
- Chandran, Sheela (March 1, 2014). "Going green's good for the wallet". The Star Online, Star Publications (Malaysia) Berhad. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
Dr Hashim devotes a large portion of his time tending to his vegetable plot where spinach, lady’s finger, sweet potato, brinjal, sweet corn and long beans grow.
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Plant this month beetroot, broccoli, carrots, celery, brinjal (frost-free areas), lettuce (choose heat tolerant varieties), peppers (frost-free areas), spinach, Swiss chard, a first sowing of peas, and in cold gardens a final sowing of beans.
- TriniGourmet, Trinidad, December 23, 2011: Stuffed Melongene (recipe) Linked 2015-02-09
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- Ancestor of brinjal Solanum incanum
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- Oxford English Dictionary, 1st edition, 1891, s.v. 'eggplant'
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- Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2001, s.v. 'melongena' and 'melongene'
- Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2000, s.v. 'mad-apple'
- Fuchsia Dunlop (2006), Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province, Ebury Press, p. 202
- The Book of Agriculture by Ibn Al-Awwam, translated from Arabic to French by J.-J. Clément-Mullet, year 1866, volume 2 page 236.
- The first record of Catalan albergínia = "aubergine" is in 1328 according to the Catalan dictionary Diccionari.cat. There is an earlier record in Catalan, from the 13th century, according to the French Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales. A number of old variant spellings for the aubergine word in Romance dialects in Iberia indicate the word was borrowed medievally from Arabic; Dictionary of Arabic and Allied Loanwords: Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Galician and Kindred Dialects, by Federico Corriente, year 2008 page 60.
- The Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes, by John Gerarde, year 1597 page 274.
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- Mark Chladil and Jennifer Sheridan. "Fire retardant garden plants for the urban fringe and rural areas" (PDF). www.fire.tas.gov.au. Tasmanian Fire Research Fund.
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- B. N. Harish Babu *, P. A. Mahesh † and Y. P. Venkatesh * A cross-sectional study on the prevalence of food allergy to eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) reveals female predominance. Clinical & Experimental Allergy 38(11):1795–1802, 2008
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- Gerth van Wijk R, Toorenenbergen AW, Dieges PH. Occupational pollinosis in commercial gardeners. [Dutch] Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd 1989;133(42):2081-3
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- Solanum melongena L. on Solanaceae Source: Images, specimens and a full list of scientific synonyms previously used to refer to the eggplant. Archived March 10, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- Edward William Lane, An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians, v. 1, p. 378, footnote 1.
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- Media related to Solanum melongena at Wikimedia Commons
- Plantation the Malaysian brinjal without fertilizers
- Eggplant at DMOZ