|The eggplant (Latin - Solanum melongena, or Latin - S. esculentum) is a kind of perennial grass plant for vegetable planting.
The eggplant grew in the wild form in the Eastern parts of India but already more than 1500 years ago, the eggplant was cultivated and grown in China and in the countries of Central Asia. Thanks to the Arabs, this vegetable made its way into Africa and then spread across to the European Mediterranean.
The eggplant is a grass plant with a height ranging from 40 to 150cm. The leaves are large with an alternate leaf arrangement, thorn-rough and in some sorts, with violet shade. The flowers are telianthus, violet in color with diameter 2.5 to 5cm; single or in inflorescences -semi-umbrellas from 2 to 7 flowers. The eggplant grows between July and September.
The eggplant fruit is a big round-shaped, pear-shaped or of cylindrical shape berry; the surface of the fruit is mat-finished or glossy. The fruit of the eggplant reaches up to a length of 70cm, 20 cm in diameter and weighs from 0.4 to 1 kg. The color of a ripe eggplant can be grey-green to brownish-yellow. After complete ripening, they become rough and tasteless and therefore, are used in food when the brinjals are not ripe enough. When the brinjals are not ripe, the color varies from light-violet to dark-violet. The seeds of the brinjals are very tiny, flat and light brown in color; Brinjals ripen in August-October.
In subtropical and mild climatic zones, the eggplant is cultivated as an annual plant by the seedling manner. The eggplant penetrated into Russia in the 17--18th centuries from Iran. At present, it is cultivated in the open grounds in the southern parts such as Krasnodar, Stavropol Territory and in the Rostov region.
The eggplant is one of the most demanding cultivars to cultivation conditions. It is sensitive to temperature fluctuations: the fall or sharp increase in temperatures causes casting of the flower buds, blossoms and embryos. The best temperature for its growth and development is +25 to +28 °C; optimum humidity of soil during bearing - 80 percent of the total moisture capacity. At temperatures less than +15 °С the seeds do not sprout. At negative or low positive temperatures for longer periods, the plant perishes. The stringent requirements of the eggplant are even applicable to light. In cloudy weather conditions or in heavy densification, plants grow slowly and form small fruits. The eggplant grows very well on light, well fertilized soils. It is grown after winter wheat, cucumber, onions, bean cultivars and cabbage. The maintenance consists of soil loosening, weeding of weeds, watering, additional fertilization, fight against illnesses and pests.
The main pests of the eggplant are potato beetles and web-mites. Diseases - dry decay, phytophthora and wilt.
Eggplants are actively used in the cookery of many countries around the world. Eggplants are fried, baked, stewed and eggplants can also be put in a grill and eggplants are used for the preparation of eggplant salads and caviar.
Also, the eggplant is a valuable raw vegetable for the canning industry (eggplant caviar etc.). The fruits can be fried, stewed and marinated etc.
It is not recommended to use overripe eggplants in food preparations since a good amount of solanine is present in them. Young fruits in the technical ripeness phase are used in food preparation.
The fruits of the eggplant contain:
* Solid substances 7.1 - 11 percent;
* Sugar 2.72 - 4 percent;
* Proteins 0.6 - 1.4 percent;
* Fats 0.1 - 0.4 percent.
Also salts of calcium, phosphorus, iron and a considerable quantity of vitamins from the B group. The eggplant is rich with cellulose, which plays an important role in the working of the intestines.