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Aubergine – perfect for summer dishes

Whether grilled, fried, braised or steamed – aubergines (also called eggplants) are ideal for light summer dishes.

Origin, cultivation and varieties

Aubergines, also called eggplants, are originally native to India. Nowadays, however, this member of the solanum family is grown in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. In the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain aubergines are grown under glass. The best-known variety has long, glossy violet-coloured fruit. However, African and Asian specialty stores will also have white, pink, yellow, orange and white-violet striped aubergines. The rather spongy pulp is cream colored. Don’t even think of eating aubergines raw, since they contain bitter substances and solanine. Solanine can cause gastrointestinal problems, but it is largely destroyed during cooking.

Cooking with aubergines

To cook aubergine on its own, cut the raw fruit into slices or sticks squeeze on a little lemon juice to stop it turning brown when exposed to the air. Now sprinkle with a little salt and leave to stand for 30 minutes to remove unwanted bitter substances and excess water; this treatment makes the fruit taste better and it will also soak up less fat during frying. If the aubergine is going to be combined with other vegetables as in a ratatouille, this step is not necessary. Many varieties available today have a lower content of bitter substances. The best thing to do is to check with knowledgeable sales staff

Aubergines are available throughout the year. In ripe fruit, the skin will give slightly when you press it. Aubergines are best kept at temperatures above 10 degrees Celsius, but should be consumed as soon as possible.



Source: Heike Kreutz, www.bzfe.de