Eggplant is a cold-sensitive vegetable that requires a long warm season for the best yield. It can be successfully grown in Florida gardens after the frost season has passed. It is a member of the nightshade family of vegetables, which includes peppers and tomatoes. Like tomatoes, eggplants grow hanging from the vines of a plant that grow several feet high. This fruit is botanically considered to be a berry, and can be grown from seed or transplants. The varieties that will thrive in Florida include ‘Black Beauty’, ‘Dusky’, ‘Long’, ‘Ichiban’, and ‘Cloud Nine’. After planting, stake the plants and water well. Eggplants will grow for approximately 16 to 24 weeks before they are ready to be harvested. They should be harvested once the fruit is glossy. Eggplants are not always purple; they can be black, white, lavender, and yellow too! What color will your eggplants be?
Now that you’re an expert on eggplants, learn how to make a simple Ratatouille when your garden is flourishing with nightshade vegetables! The USDA Mixing Bowl tells us how:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 bell peppers (green, red, or yellow)
1 eggplant (peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes)
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained (15 ounces)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan and saute onion, garlic, bell peppers and eggplant until tender, about 15 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes and basil, cook about 10 minutes. Add pepper and parsley before serving.
3. Serve hot. Cover and refrigerate within 2 hours.
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