Fruit and vegetables

Eggplant - Solanum melogena

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Generalities of the aubergine

Eggplant is an annual plant belonging to the Solanaceae family, cultivated for its fruit which is generally consumed and considered a vegetable

It is considered annual in temperate countries; in fact, it particularly fears the cold and tends to find ideal cultivation conditions where there are rather warm springs and autumns.

In reality where conditions are ideal, as in the countries of origin (southern Asia and in particular India and Burma) it can also be considered a perennial.

Characterized by an erect bearing, it can measure from 50 cm to 1.20 meters in height. The flower has colors that vary from white to lilac and is solitary, carried in the leaf axil. The fruits, in the most common varieties, are dark purple in color. However, there are also white, striped, burgundy and even bright red varieties. The shape is also very variable: from round to oval, to elongated and very narrow.

The grown fruit has a spongy consistency and a rather unpleasant and bitter taste, due to the presence of saponins. In modern varieties this flavor has increasingly disappeared thanks to the selection of particular cultivars. Once it was customary to eliminate it by putting the slices in salt. This favored, by osmosis, the escape of liquids and with them of that substance. Today this practice can almost always be omitted.

The fruit, cooked, develops a rich and complex flavor similar to that of mushrooms.

Its name derives from "insane apple", the fruit in fact contains solanine which tends to disappear with ripening and disappears completely with cooking. It is a sufrutescent annual plant, with rigid and branched stem up to 80 cm tall.

The fruit is a berry with the upper part wrapped in the glass. It has an elongated shape and rounded at the end, and is thick and purple in color, or white.


Climate and soil

Climate: loves warm temperate climate, fears frost and humidity. Eggplant is a vegetable characterized by great sensitivity to temperatures. It is in fact particularly demanding in terms of heat. Requires to grow and fruit well at least 15-16 ° C during the night and at least 22-26 ° C during the day. If temperatures drop to 12 ° C there is an abrupt stop to growth.

For these reasons, this solanacea is mainly cultivated in the southern regions, where the production period is considerably lengthened. In the North it is inserted in the open field only in late spring and to anticipate the harvest, greenhouses are widely used.

However, we would like to point out that even too high temperatures are harmful. The long stay above 35 ° C can cause a cascade of flowers and fruits. In this case, it is advisable to eventually prepare shading nets and mulch the soil with straw and leaves to reduce perspiration.

Ground: must be deep and rich in organic substances, the optimal pH is the neutral one. Eggplant requires medium-textured soils, rather loose, but very rich in organic matter. It grows very well in the vicinity of the sea because it does not particularly suffer from the salinity in the soil and is fairly well resistant to winds. Furthermore, the lower temperature range favors its rapid development.

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