Eggplant (Solanum melongena), often known as aubergine or Guinea squash, is a sensitive perennial nightshade plant used for its edible fruits. Eggplant grows well in a warm climate and has been farmed in Southeast Asia since ancient times.
Eggplant is typically grown annually and has an upright, bushy stem with spines. The leaves are oblong and slightly lobed and are big. The hanging violet flowers are solitary and are about 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter.
- Is eggplant a fruit?
- Eggplant’s color
- Does eggplant grow on a vine?
- How does eggplant grow?
- How to grow eggplant from seeds
- How to grow eggplant in a pot
- Eggplant health benefits
- Eggplant recipes
Is eggplant a fruit?
Although they’re commonly mistaken for vegetables, they’re actually fruits, specifically berries, because they come from a flowering plant and contain seeds.
Eggplants are only considered vegetables in one sense: culinary. We treat eggplants like vegetables when we cook, frying, grilling, baking, boiling, roasting, and mashing them to make delicious dishes like baba ghanoush and moussaka. The eggplant joins a long list of fruits we mistake for vegetables, including peppers, zucchini, and pumpkins.
The fruit is an egg-shaped berry with a glossy surface that ranges in color from dark purple to red, pink, yellowish, or white and is sometimes striped. The popular name is derived from the color and form of the white variation.
Does eggplant grow on a vine?
When eggplants are given enough sun, and their soil has adequate drainage, they grow into tall, bushy plants. The heaviness of the fruits, on the other hand, might lead the plant’s stems to lay along the ground, giving it the appearance of vines.
How does eggplant grow?
Eggplants, like tomatoes and peppers, grow on a plant that can reach several feet in height and hang from its branches.
Because eggplants require warm soil, they are typically purchased as 6- to 8-week-old transplants (or planted indoors approximately two months ahead). However, because the earth heats up faster in raised beds loaded with composted manure, eggplants thrive there. In addition, eggplants create attractive ornamental borders and are great for pots.
How to grow eggplant from seeds
Eggplants are hearty, flavorful food that you may add to your garden. To encourage proper growth, keep eggplants warm and well-watered. The plants will grow tall and should be staked early to provide support. Continue reading to know how you can plant eggplants from seeds.
- Start eggplant seeds inside six to nine weeks before the last frost. Because eggplants require warmth, they should be started indoors and transplanted as the weather warms up. Plant the seeds 6 to 9 weeks before the season’s last frost is expected. Eggplants should not be replanted outside until the temperature reaches at least 70 °F (21 °C).
- Before germinating the seeds, soak them overnight. If you soak eggplant seeds well before planting them, they have a better chance of growing. Fill a small container halfway with water and place the seeds inside. Allow the seeds to soak overnight before draining the water.
- Fill seed trays halfway with a fine, loose-textured growth medium. Germinate eggplant seeds in a soilless growth medium for the best results. Then you can fill seed trays 3/4 full with your preferred growing medium. Vermiculite, perlite, coconut husk, and compost are all excellent alternatives.
- Moisten the medium and plant the seeds 0.25 inches (0.64 cm) deep. Push 1-2 eggplant seeds into each seed container’s growth material with your fingers. Ensure the seeds are around 0.25 inches (0.64 cm) below the growing medium’s surface. Cover the seeds with plastic wrap and spritz or sprinkle water on top.
- Allow 5-14 days for the seeds to germinate. Depending on the temperature, eggplant seeds can grow in as little as five days or as long as two weeks. Warmer temperatures will hasten the germination process. A temperature of at least 65 °F (18 °C) should be maintained for your eggplant seeds as they germinate.
- When the seedlings reach 3 inches (7.6 cm) in height, transplant them into pots. When the seedlings have grown large enough, they should be placed in their pots. Fill miniature pots with the same growing material as the seeds and poke small holes in the bottom to put the seedlings. Remove each seedling from the growing tray with care and replant it in its new pot or directly into the soil.
Planting the seedlings
- Select a location in your garden that receives direct sunshine. In order to grow and thrive in a garden, eggplants require incredibly high temperatures. Therefore, plant your eggplants in a location that receives at least 6 hours of sun per day. If this isn’t an option, put eggplants in a place that receives only partial shade.
- Test your soil to check if it is well-drained. Healthy, well-drained soil is ideal for growing eggplant. Dig a hole 12–18 inches (30–46 cm) deep and 12–18 inches (30–46 cm) wide, then fill it with water to see how your soil is doing. Your soil is inadequately drained if the water pools and takes more than an hour to soak in.
- Add an organic soil supplement to fix poorly drained soil. Loosen your soil’s top 8 inches (20 cm) with a gardening rake. On top of the ground, apply a 2 in (5.1 cm) layer of organic soil amendment. Use the rake to distribute it throughout the soil evenly.
- Plant seedlings root-deep 24–30 inches (61–76 cm) apart. Eggplants thrive in areas where they can spread out and flourish. Dig holes 24–30 inches (61–76 cm) apart in all directions, slightly larger than the roots of the seedlings. Fill the space surrounding the roots of the seedlings with soil and gently insert them into the holes.
- Arrange mulch around the base of your plants. Mulching will help keep your plants warm and prevent weed growth. Natural mulch materials such as straw, compost, and grass clippings are excellent choices. Arrange them in a thick layer around the base of your eggplant seedlings.
- Stake your plants to keep them from falling over as they mature. Stake your plants with bamboo sticks or other suitable stakes. Place the stakes about 12 inches (2.5–5.1 cm) away from each seedling in the soil. The plants will lean against the stakes as they grow, causing no damage to the surrounding plants.
- Once a week, thoroughly water eggplants. Eggplant needs at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water every week to flourish. Instead of many brief watering sessions, aim for one weekly, intensive watering. Frequent watering encourages shallow roots, which can make your eggplants less durable.
- When the eggplant skin is shiny, harvest it 16-24 weeks after seeding. From the moment you sow your eggplant seeds, keep note of your planting schedule. Start monitoring your eggplant crops at the 16-week point to see if they’re ready to harvest. Cut eggplants near the stem with sharp pruning shears when the skin is glossy.
How to grow eggplant in a pot
Eggplants are often grown from transplants purchased from a garden center. The average wait time for the first harvest is 60-100 days. Plant a shorter-season variety for the best results, as you can start eating eggplant in as little as two months.
Plant only when the weather is warm at night, around 55 degrees. Eggplants, like tomato transplants, must be toughened before planting. Then, gradually acclimate plants to the outside over a week or so.
Plant one eggplant per two-gallon container. Fill the container with high-quality, quick-draining potting soil. Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer at the time of planting and then every few weeks throughout the season, especially as the plants begin to blossom.
Water deeply and frequently, but not excessively. Mulch with straw, leaves, or pesticide-free grass clippings to help keep the soil temperature consistent between waterings. To prevent fruit-laden branches from breaking, stake or install a tomato cage if necessary.
Waiting until the fruit is as huge as those found in grocery stores is one error eggplant growers make. If eggplants are left on the plant for too long, they lose their luster, become seedy, and are less delicious to eat.
To avoid this, cut the fruit from the plant while it’s still shining and bright, even if it’s small, with pruners or a knife. Leave approximately an inch of the fruit’s stalk and calyx attached.
To avoid bruising, handle the fruit with care. Use within a few days to get the most out of the flavor.
Eggplant health benefits
Eggplants, also known as aubergines, are nightshade plants that are utilized in a variety of dishes all over the world.
In addition to its distinct texture and mild flavor, eggplant has several health benefits.
High in antioxidants
Antioxidants are plentiful in eggplants. Antioxidants are compounds that help protect the body from free radicals, which are damaging substances.
Antioxidants have been demonstrated in studies to help prevent various chronic diseases, including heart disease and cancer.
Eggplants are exceptionally high in anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant pigment that gives them their brilliant color.
Controls blood sugar
Including eggplants in your diet may help you maintain a healthy blood sugar level.
This is due to the eggplants’ high fiber content, allowing them to travel undamaged through the digestive system.
Fiber lowers blood sugar levels by decreasing sugar breakdown and absorption in the body. Slower absorption maintains blood sugar levels, avoiding spikes and crashes.
Helps with weight loss
Eggplants are naturally high in fiber and low in calories, making them an ideal weight-loss complement.
Fiber passes slowly through the digestive tract, promoting fullness and satiety while lowering calorie intake.
Raw eggplant contains 3 grams of fiber and only 20 calories per cup (82 grams).
In addition, eggplants are frequently used in dishes as a high-fiber, low-calorie substitute for higher-calorie components.
Eggplant nutrition facts
A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of eggplant has:
The other ingredients around it transform the mild flavor of eggplant, making it a highly versatile ingredient. Here are three eggplant dishes that might just become your favorites.
You’ll match eggplant with everything once you learn how to sauté it! This recipe for caramelized eggplant takes about 20 minutes to prepare.
- 1 medium-sized eggplant (sliced into rounds. 1/4 inch thick)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup Olive oil (more if needed)
- Slice the eggplant crosswise into 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick rings. After you’ve finished slicing, cut off the leafy end, so you have something to grip onto as you slice. Pat the pieces dry if they are moist.
- Sprinkle garlic powder, sea salt, and black pepper on both sides of the eggplant slices.
- In a 12-inch skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-low to medium heat. Add the slices in a single layer in batches. Saute eggplant until tender, browned, and caramelized on both sides, about 3-6 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining eggplant pieces using around 1-2 teaspoons of oil per batch.
Grilled eggplant with garlic & herbs
This grilled eggplant with garlic and herbs is soft in the center with slightly charred edges and drenched in a flavorful garlic and herb oil.
- 2 eggplants
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves crushed garlic
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch and season generously with salt. Allow for a 15-minute rest period to allow the salt to suck away the moisture and bitterness. Wipe each slice with a paper towel to remove the salt and water.
- Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper. Place each eggplant slice in the dish, ensuring that both sides are coated in oil.
- Grill for 6 minutes per side, or until golden brown and grill marks appear. Brush the eggplant slices with extra oil if they become dry and adhere to the grill.
- When the eggplant is tender and cooked, remove the pan from the grill and return it to the oil, herb, and garlic mixture. Before transferring to a serving platter, flip once more to cover both sides.
- Before serving, scatter any remaining herbs and garlic on top. The eggplant can be eaten hot or cold and will keep in the fridge for up to four days.
This recipe will teach you how to make delicious eggplant parmesan. Make it for your next get-together or family supper because it’s excellent for serving a crowd.
- 2 large eggplant, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, more for sprinkling
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 28 ounces Marinara Sauce
- 2 large balls of fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line two baking pans with parchment paper.
- Whisk the eggs and almond milk together on a relatively shallow plate.
- Combine the panko, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, salt, and several grinds of pepper in a medium-sized shallow dish.
- Dip the eggplant slices in the egg mixture before dipping them in the panko mixture—drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and bake for 18 minutes, or until soft and golden brown.
- Spread 12 cups of marinara in an 8×12 or 9×13-inch baking dish.
- Put half the eggplant, top with 1 cup marinara, and half the mozzarella. Replace the eggplant, marinara, and mozzarella with the other ingredients.
- Drizzle with olive oil and a couple more pinches of sea salt, then top with the remaining 14 cups of parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted well. Preheat the oven to broil and cook the cheese for 2 to 4 minutes, or until browned and bubbling.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle with basil leaves.