Mystery of the Eggplant

Did you know that eggplant is technically a fruit, related to the tomato and potato family? There are several varieties of eggplant – purple, white, graffiti, Japanese, Thai, and fairytale to name a few. Choosing an eggplant is important if you get one that is over ripeeggplant variety can have lots of seeds. Eggplants with seeds tend to be bitter, so you want to select one that has fewer seeds. That’s what we call the male eggplants. Most people are unaware that the eggplant is considered male and female although they really are not. The male eggplant is a ripe eggplant which will have few seeds. As the eggplant continues to ripen it will develop more seeds and therefore called female. Male eggplants have shallow round indents on their bottoms. Where the female eggplant bottoms have a deeper indent. I look for the long more narrow eggplants with the rounded bottoms and firm to the touch. You do not want to pick an eggplant that has any signs of bruising. Overripe or bruised eggplants can be tough to eat.  If cooking with the skin on, wash eggplant thoroughly in cold water and trim the stalk end and remove all stalk pieces. You can remove the bitterness of the eggplant by salting or, as I prefer, letting the eggplant soak in a solution of salt water. I do this because many seeds in the eggplant will also be removed. Personally, I find some of the seeds tough, but they are edible. I place a heavy plate on top of the soaking eggplant to apply a little pressure. I’ll let the eggplant sit for a good hour or so. When you pour out the water you will notice the water is purplish in color. That is to be expected. Be sure to rinse the eggplant well to remove all the salt. I dry the eggplant well before cooking. Salt also helps to remove the excess moisture from the eggplant which will make your eggplant pieces firmer to use.

Eggplant is low in calories but high in fiber. Some research has suggested that eggplant is effective in controlling high blood cholesterol. I don’t care for the skin but there are some recipes that I will keep the skin on. The skin has a significant amount of chemicals called anthocyanins. The health benefits of these antioxidants potentially help against cancer, aging, and inflammation. Eggplant is also a good source of vitamins B1, B3, B5, and B6 and a good source of some minerals like manganese and potassium. As a diabetic, I am always looking for good foods to add to my personal diet plan and eggplant is one of those foods. Eggplant helps to keep blood sugar levels under control. According to “A study from the University of Massachusetts found that extracts from several eggplant varieties — purple, white and graffiti — inhibited an enzyme that converts starch to blood sugar. The eggplant compounds restrained the glucose-releasing enzyme by as much as 60%, and the effect correlated with antioxidant activity, which also helps squelch blood sugar-generated free radicals. Other ways to help manage –or even avoid — diabetes:” The glycemic index for eggplant is 15 out of a possible 100, which is very low. Eggplants contain carbohydrates but they are non-starchy so they don’t provide a significant amount of starch.

 Now again I am no expert but this is from my own personal experience and research.