Ingredient Glossary: Aubergine

Ingredient Glossary: Aubergine

Posted by Emily on 1st Dec 2019

What are Aubergines?

Although it's technically a fruit (a berry, to be exact), the Aubergine is used as a vegetable. It's native to Southeast Asia but is grown worldwide, with many varieties. They include the bulbous, glossy, deep purple zeppelin type common to Mediterranean cuisine; the small and plump ivory-coloured Aubergine from the United States and Australia (where it's referred to as eggplant); or the much smaller varieties grown in Thailand. They all share the same mildly smoky flavour and a spongy texture when raw but soft when cooked.

Aubergines

Aubergine vs Eggplant

The terms "aubergine" and "eggplant" refer to the same fruit but are used in different parts of the world due to linguistic and cultural differences. It's commonly known as "eggplant," a term that echoes its egg-like shape in the United States. In contrast, in the UK and other European countries, it's called "aubergine," a word that alludes to its purple-brownish hue. While American and British English are variations of the English language, they sometimes use different words for the same items, creating a language barrier that can result in misunderstandings. Whether you call it "aubergine" or "eggplant" generally depends on where you are or where your chef is from, but either way, the term refers to the same fruit widely used in various cuisines.

How to prepare Aubergine

To avoid discolouration, cut just before cooking. In the past, recipes called for aubergines to be sliced and salted before cooking to reduce their bitterness. As modern varieties are much less bitter, that is no longer necessary unless you're planning to fry them – aubergines soak up oil like a sponge, and salting helps reduce that.

How to cook Aubergine

Aubergine is often found baked in a Greek moussaka or ratatouille; roasted and puréed with garlic, tahini, lemon juice, salt and cumin for the Middle Eastern dip baba ganoush; and even thinly sliced and fried to make aubergine crisps.

Baked Aubergines

How to store Aubergine

In the salad drawer of the fridge where, they will keep for a couple of days.

When are Aubergines in season?

All year round, but at their best from late May to mid-October.

Choosing the best Aubergines

Look for firm, smooth, glossy aubergines with bright green stalks. A fresh aubergine should feel pretty heavy.

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