The aubergines is a freak among the vegetables. It has a solid, filling texture, but is low in calories. It feels firm yet bruises as easily as the most delicate fruit. It soaks up oil and butter like a mushroom, but unlike the mushroom it cannot grow in the dark - it needs warm, sunny days to mature into its regal purple beauty.
The aubergine is a tropical vegetable which needs a long, equable summer of the hot days and warm nights. The fruits are best harvested when no bigger than 10cm (4 inches) in diameter and 15cm (6 inches) long, although a mature one can be 25cm (10 inches) long. Encourage the plants to go on producing by picking the fruits before they matures, and you should be able to have fresh fruit until autumn. An aubergine is ripe when its skin is really glossy; if you press it with your thumb, it should stay dented. Harvested at the stage, it will have small seeds which are hardly noticeable, and a tender skin wich need not be peeled. Its stems are tough and should be cut with a knife to avoid leaving the branches ragged.
An aubergine can be stored for up to a week in a cool room (10°C/50°F) or in the refrigerator. If handled very carefully to avoid bruising, it can be stored for a month or two on a shelf in a cool cellar. It is too watery to be froxen raw with good results. The best method of storage is to freeze it in cooked dishes. Do not thaw the food before reheating.
Peeling is unncessary in perparing tender, young aubgerines, as is the salting and draining process so often recommended. jsut remove the process so often recommended. Just remove the stems and tops before cooking. Aubergines can be halved, sliced, cubed or chopped; baked, steamed, fried, stuffed,grilled, sauted, breaded or sauced; served alone or in casseroles; eaten hot or cold (but not raw). Aubergine goes particularly well with cheese, tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs and meat.
Sometimes aubgergines is used as a substitute for meat because of its solid content and its delicious flavour. It is high in carbohydrates, but low in calories (aboutn 14 calories per 100g (4 oz). It contains vitamin C, calcium and a lot of iron. Allow about 100g (4 oz) per person.