We didn't really grow many to sell at the smallholding until we had the third polytunnel up, that was when Col packed up County Council full time to go self-employed in 2012.
Aubergines or Eggplants (they were originally white and smaller) or Brinjal - so many names in different parts of the world, are members of the the nightshade family Solanaceae.
The aubergine is unrecorded in England until the 16th century. An English botany book in 1597 described the madde or raging Apple:
This plant groweth in Egypt almost everywhere... bringing foorth fruite of the bignes of a great Cucumber.... We have had the same in our London gardens, where it hath borne flowers, but the winter approching before the time of ripening, it perished: notwithstanding it came to beare fruite of the bignes of a goose egge one extraordinarie temperate yeere... but never to the full ripenesse.Because of the plant's relationship with various other nightshades, the fruit was at one time believed to be extremely poisonous. The flowers and leaves can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities due to the presence of solanine.
The eggplant has a special place in folklore. In 13th-century Italian traditional folklore, the eggplant can cause insanity. In 19th-century Egypt, insanity was said to be "more common and more violent" when the eggplant is in season in the summer.
In the past......before I started growing them........ they were very bitter. Old recipes always say that the slices need salting and rinsing to draw out the bitterness, but that's been bred out of them, making them easier to use.
Last year I made lots of Aubergine and Tomato Sauce for the freezer which was a good use. Later in the year I did boxes of roasted mixed vegetables including aubergines - which wasn't a good idea. Roasted chunks of aubergines frozen and re-heated are not nice!
Need new ideas and when I searched among all the photocopies and cuttings in my folder I found
Aubergines with Goats Cheese
For each person
One aubergine, halved lengthways
Olive oil (I used rape seed oil)
Sun Dried tomato paste (I used one of my own plum tomatoes sliced)
Fresh Basil leaves - torn
Goats cheese (or brie or cheddar)
- Preheat grill. Brush both sides of aubergine with Olive oil and season. Place aubergines cut side up on a baking sheet and grill for 7 minutes. Turn them over and grill for 5 minutes
- Spread the cut sides with tomato paste and arrange basil leaves on top. Slice goats/brie cheese and arrange on the aubergines. Season and grill until bubbling.
- Serve with salad leaves and crusty bread.
I tried this a couple of weeks ago with goat cheese and then last week bought Suffolk Gold because as far as I know there are no local-ish producers of goats cheese selling it in Suffolk.
Grated it over the top and it was better than goats cheese as it melted really well