Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fall for Garden Eggs (African eggplants) and a question

There are numerous farmer's markets in central Pennsylvania this time of year. Last week 2 of my students (one from Ghana) told me one of the markets sells "heirloom" eggplants, that included some that look like the West African versions. The market opens at 11:30 on Fridays, so yesterday I hurried over there and checked stalls until I found the right one, Moser's Garden Produce. As I examined the dozen or so different types of eggplants (Asian, Indian, African, Brazilian, etc.), I struck up a conversation with another shopper beside me loading a large bag. He was from Côte d'Ivoire, and preparing to buy in bulk and freeze the "aubergines" (French for eggplant) for use as needed. Unfortunately, he told me, the best ones were already taken. It turns out a Liberian colleague had beat us to it and called ahead for 4 bushels that she was picking up at 4:00 p.m. Oh, well. I selected several of the ones still available (in the picture above) and brought them home to test out. 

I also had a lovely chat with owner/farmer Barrie Moser, and he let me look through the seed catalog he buys from, Baker Creek Heirloom seeds. It turns out the ones I bought included a new variety (Solanum aethiopicum) from Burkina Faso (the orange ones on the left). Mr. Moser's seed catalog was from 2010, but it also included several "jilo" varieties from Brazil, as well as "gbogname" from Togo (S. macrocarpon), and the African goya kumbo (S. melongena).
I'm pretty excited to try them out (one of my American students who bought some said he found them bitter, which was what I had warned them they might think. Can anyone tell me the scientific name of the common variety  of Ghanaian "ntroma" garden eggs?



anthia-ofo said...

Interesting. I've just finished the last of my eggplant stew. I mix the white and small purplish ones and it seems to work well. I've also noticed that when I chop them (as opposed to boiling,removing skins then mash), the stew tastes sweeter. My daughter says the same,but I cant explain why. Id love to what the other varieties taste like

Jennifer said...

I don't know the scientific name, but it's a great question! I'd love to see a recipe for garden egg stew if you end up trying with the varieties you found!

Fran said...

Jennifer, here's a recipe
Just substitute the garden eggs for the eggplant.

Fran said...

anthia-ofo, you might find the video "webinar" the American Chemical Society did in Sept. 2012 interesting--it talks about why cutting (vs. something like mashing) releases flavors differently.