The Nightshade Eggplant
Today’s Belize Photo of the Day is the Nightshade Eggplant which is scientifically known as Solanum Melongena. The Eggplant is native to the Indian subcontinent and has been cultivated in Southern and Eastern Asia from where it later made its way to the Western World.
The picture above was taken at Chaa Creek’s Maya Organic Farm which is an integral part of the Chaa Creek Nature Reserve since it provides freshly harvested produce for the Lodge’s Restaurant and Bar.
Interestingly, this small tropical perennial plant is botanically classified as a berry and the fruit can grow up to 25 inches, each weighing as much as 2.5 lbs. The flesh has a pleasantly bitter taste, due to the insignificant presence of nicotinoid alkaloids. Usurprising, it is a close relative to tobacco.
Eggplants can be a key ingredient to many appetizing culinary recipes and can be cooked in a variety of ways- baked, steamed, grilled, and even roasted. When preparing eggplants for meals, wash it properly and use a stainless steel knife to cut the fruit into slices. Do not use a carbon steel knife as it may react with the phytonutrients present in the plant causing the vegetable to turn black. Since it has a slightly bitter taste, it is advisable to sweat the fruit by salting it and letting it sit for 30 minutes. By doing this, the water content will drain out making it less permeable to absorbing oil when cooking it.
Photo taken by Naturalist Guide: Hilberto Tut
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