August 28, 2006

Calling all eggplant lovers

I just can't get over how beautiful this Ping Tung Long eggplant is. Try as I might, I can't seem to capture the color properly in a photograph. I have two plants, each about 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide (90 cm. x 60 cm.), which have been producing for two months and are still going strong. They often have seven to nine eggplants at a time and quickly begin producing anew after those are harvested. The 8 to 10" (20-25 cm.) fruit grows very straight which is nice for slicing. They haven't shown any sign of bitterness even when I've left them on the plant for days.

A quick search of the internet shows that seeds of this Asian eggplant (also called aubergine, brinjal, or berenjena, depending upon where you are from) are widely available in the U.S., U.K., Canada, and Australia. I bought the seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds, one of the few seed sellers who will ship to Honduras at a reasonable cost. (Yay for Pinetree!) The Pinetree catalog describes Ping Tung as:
"An open-pollinated oriental eggplant variety, imported from Taiwan. Fruits are elongated and slender, averaging 10" (25 cm.) long and 1 1/2" to 2" (4-5 cm.) across with a lovely, lavender-purple colored skin and white interior flesh. This variety has been bred to be resistant to many diseases, as well as tolerant to wet and hot conditions. In our 1995 trials, we found this one to be the best yielder, with fruit weighing about 1/2 lb. (.23 kg.) each."

I found this description to be fairly accurate, although my (admittedly unfertilized) fruits have been just a little smaller in diameter and weight. Pinetree is located in Maine, U.S., and my garden is in tropical Honduras in Central America, so apparently it has a wide climate tolerance.

The plants have stood unsupported and healthy among tomatoes that succumbed to bacterial wilt and squash covered with mildew. It wasn't even particularly bothered by insects until I pulled out all the other plants around it. Something is eating big holes in the leaves now but it hasn't affected the production yet.

Our favorite way to prepare Ping Tung is to cut it lengthwise into 3 or 4 slices, brush the slices lightly with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt, pepper, and fresh thyme leaves, and then broil or grill for just a few minutes. We've also used it sliced or chopped in frittatas, omelets, and stir-fries. I think this tender eggplant is best cooked very lightly. It's too bad that the beautiful skin fades to a tan color when cooked. I found a fabulous sounding recipe using cilantro and basalmic vinegar from
The Chocolate Lady. She says this recipe is "so delicious your eyeballs can just explode into atoms." Wow! I can't wait to try it.

I have read that in order to save seeds from eggplant, the fruit must be way past prime eating quality. I plan to try to save some seeds, but if I leave a fruit to over-ripen now I think it will stop further production. So I'm going to wait a while and enjoy more of the harvest first. Even if your family is not completely crazy over eggplant, you should try Ping Tung for its mild flavor and beauty. These can also be grown in containers. Next time, I may plant them in the front yard − they are that pretty!
Newer posts Older posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...