Last weekend, Tina and I went to the Multicultural Harvest Festival in San Jose, CA. This event took place at the Emma Prusch Farm Park. Several of the booths featured produce or exotic fruits that were grown during the year at the Park. One booth in particular displayed several varieties of eggplants. They grew 41 different varieties to see which types of eggplants would grow well in San Jose. It turns out that 38 of the 41 varieties did well, according to the woman manning the booth. While we were admiring the various shapes and colors that egg plants come in, a woman asked Tina if she wanted to take some home (this was late in the day). We jumped at the opportunity and went home with four different types of eggplants. I unfortunately, did not manage to capture the names of all the varieties. Even so, I prepared a taste test.
We came home with a Pandora Striped Rose (the egg shaped one), another that looked like the Pandora, but was longer and curved, two that seem like small Chinese, and a really skinny dark colored one. The Pandora Striped Rose was not springy when I squeezed it - usually a sign that the egg plant is past it's prime eating age. The other eggplants seemed to all be in good condition (except the dark thin one was a bit too soft). [IMG]
I started by cutting the eggplants into approx. half inch pieces. Since I didn't know the names of the eggplants, I drew little pictures of each type of eggplant onto small pieces of paper so I could keep track. I also minced about six cloves of garlic to cook the eggplant with. [IMG]
Cooking each batch separately, I sauteed the eggplant in about one tablespoon of light olive oil. It's important to keep the eggplant moving when it hits the hot oil because eggplant can really suck up a lot of oil and a single piece could easily absorb most of the oil in the pan. So, I force the eggplant to share by tossing constantly during the first few seconds in the pan. I then tossed in a pinch of kosher salt and continued to toss. Once all the egg plant had started to cange color (an indication that they are cooking through), I threw in some minced garlic and cooked until the garlic became tender. [IMG]
Once all the eggplant had been cooked out in the same manner, I called Tina over and we started tasting, going back and forth between plates. My favorite was the one in the upper left corner - the eggplant that looked like the Pandora Striped Rose but was longer and bent. The skin was soft and flavorful and it had a distinct eggplant flavor without being over powering. Next was the one in the lower right corner, cooked from the two eggplants that look like miniature chinese eggplants. The skin was not as soft, but had a little crispy texture to it. Favor was a bit bland, but with the salt, it still tasted quite good. The almost loser was the really thin, dark eggplant in the upper right. Skin was a bit tough and not much flavor. The loser was the Pandora Striped Rose - both skin and flesh were tough and flavor a bit bitter. This eggplant could have benefited greatly from a salting. [IMG]
My final conclusion? Most of the eggplants pretty much tasted the same, but the skin or flesh would be tougher or softer. Generally, that is an age issue. I don't think I would be able to tell one variety from the next had they all been springy (soft and yet firm) to the touch.
I like your blog very much, learn a lot of things from here. As i know, Pandora Striped Rose normally used by Indian to cook vegetarian curry. It taste good in the curry, you can try it next time when you happen to have the Pandora Striped Rose again.
To get rid of the bitter taste you can cut them in thin slices and salt them. After 15 min you can see little drops containing the bitter compounds sweating out from the osmotic pressure. Use a towel to take the moist and salt away and continue with the preparation!
I recently found your blog and really like it.
I saw such a pretty eggplant in the farmers market last week, it was small, egg-shaped and white. I now regret not buying it as I assume it must have been an original variety given the nomenclature in use.
Is there any chance you'd be willing to try another test? Cookbooks always say to slice eggplant, salt the slices, and let them drain between paper towels for thirty minutes. This is supposed to remove bitterness. I've long suspected that the eggplant wouldn't be bitter anyway but have never gotten around to testing the theory. To make the test fair, you'd have to use slices from the same fruit because they vary so much.
Talking 'bout eggplants, try this, using the almost black ones (we call it congo blue in show biz)
Cut them in half, lenghtwise. Salt generously and lay salt down on an aluminium square roasting pan. Forget in hot oven for 90 minutes ou more. It needs to burn a little, the skin will srink. Let it cool, remove from pan using your hands and cajoling gently. Using a spoon scrape to the skin, now good for composting. Mix violently, to blend every tiny last bit, using lots of olive oil, some garlig, some oregano. Eat with heavy bread. Cry for more.
I miss the round egg shaped small sized eggplants. I am Indian and the local international stores here don't sell them. As another post mentioned, if you use them in an Indian curry, it is YUMM. They are called brinjals in India.
well i don't know if u know it but there one recipe i would like to suggest:
take eggplant(baingan in hindi) n slightly roast it on coals or in a pan with little bit of oil.these roasted eggfruits taste better than anything else.add chopped onions,red chilli powder,salt and hot oil.really tasty.
eggplant is very much declicious if you'll try this recep..
boil eggplant in hot water for about 20 minutes, after that take it off from the pan and remove the skins, flatten it and soak it in a scrambled raw egg until its fully coated....cook it in a pan using oil (fry)...
I wonder where I've been all my life. I learned to (barbe)grill eggplant many years ago and prefer it. I have never had a problem with bitterness. I slice it, "paint" each slice with olive oil, use a gray salt, fresh ground black pepper, and grill over high heat for 5 minutes per side. Outstanding (say our friends).