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Wild eggplants are small and round, approximately one centimeter in diameter. These berries have smooth, glossy, and thin skin that is green when immature and transforms into a bright yellow when ripe. Wild eggplants grow in clusters on grey-green branched vines with thorns, star-shaped hairs, and foliage. Wild eggplant has a seedy flesh and jelly-like texture. Its bitterness is heavily pronounced and often considered barely palatable.
Wild eggplants are available during the summer months.
Wild eggplants, botanically classified as Solanum torvum, are members of the Solanaceae, or Nightshade family, along with tomatoes and potatoes. Wild eggplant has many common names including Turkey berry, Gully-bean, Pea eggplant, Shoo-Shoo Bush, Pea aubergine, Prickly Nightshade, Cluster eggplant, and Devil's fig. Wild eggplants occur on all continents except for Antarctica and can be found in a wide variety of habitats from deserts to mountain slopes, particularly throughout Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. Wild eggplants are also commonly used as rootstock for grafting domesticated eggplant species and for tomato species to improve disease resistance in areas where bacterial wilt is prevalent.
Wild eggplants contain some manganese, vitamin K, vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber.
Wild eggplants are best suited for cooked applications such as grilling, frying, baking, pureeing, stewing, braising, and pickling. At the most primitive and basic level, Wild eggplants can be used in complex, rich, and spicy sauces. These sauces will balance out the bitter taste of the eggplants creating a more pleasing flavor. Immature Wild eggplants can also be sliced and sautéed for use in curries. Wild eggplants pair well with legumes, grains, garlic, onions, curries, chilies, cardamom, cumin, and herbs such as basil, epazote, and cilantro. Wild eggplants will keep up to three days when stored in a cool and dry place.
Wild eggplants have long been sought after in traditional medicine for its healing properties and varied medicinal uses. It is known to have anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. In India, the Wild eggplant is believed to aid in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders as well as respiratory diseases. In Africa, the fruit is used in the treatment of skin infections and abscesses. Wild eggplants are also popular in Jamaica and are believed to provide iron because of their strong bitter taste.
Wild eggplants are believed be native to the West Indies, the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and Mexico and were then naturalized in Australia, Asia, tropical Africa, the Philippines, and the United States. Today Wild eggplants can still be found in those regions growing wild and in home gardens.
Recipes that include Foraged Eggplant. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Lite Bite||A Turkey Berry and Three Tangy Curries|
|David Lebovitz||Thai Green Curry|
|Biscuits and Ladles||Beef Jollof|