Thursday, February 24, 2011

Red eggplants

Most people would be familiar with the large, purple-black eggplant or aubergine (Solanum melongena) which is used to make delicious recipes like ratatouille and baba ganoush. If you shop around you'll also be able to find white skinned or striped varieties, lady's fingers and the tiny pea eggplant, which is used in Asian cooking. The good news is that there are new red varieties of eggplant available, which have a better flavour than the common purple ones because they are not as acidic. They can be cut in half and put on the barbecue, or sliced thinly, fried and added to platters of antipasto.

Eggplants require a position in full sun and a long, warm growing season. In warm, frost-free zones (for example the tropical and subtropical parts of the Northern Territory and coastal areas of north Queensland) they can be grown all year round. In temperate climates (coastal and near coastal districts of southern Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia) seed can be planted from August to December. In cool to cold climates (southern Australia, mountain and frost-prone inland districts), delay planting until September and make last plantings by the end of November.

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