Eggplant is this week’s Fresh Pick of the Week from the Summer Certified Farmers’ Market. The Eggplant, which is also known as an Aubergine or Guinea Squash, is a member of the nightshade family of vegetables (which also includes tomatoes, potatoes, sweet peppers, and tobacco). It is native to India, and the Indian subcontinent, but has been known throughout Asia and the Mediterranean since ancient times. Although typically purple, the fruit of the Eggplant (which is actually a “berry”) can also be white, yellow, green, white and purple (variegated), and even orange. Some of the smaller white Eggplant varieties are likely the source of the “Eggplant” moniker, as their fruits really do look like large chicken eggs!
Today, Eggplant is eaten throughout the world, although China, India and Egypt (in that order) remain the largest producers and consumers. Eggplant has a slightly bitter flavor and a somewhat spongy texture, and is typically cooked – roasted, baked, steamed or stir-fried. A versatile vegetable, in Indian cuisines, the Eggplant is also used in curries and for pickling.
DID YOU KNOW: You can reduce the naturally-occurring bitter taste of the Eggplant, and tenderize its outer skin, by “sweating” it. To do this, simply cut the Eggplant (with a stainless steel knife to avoid discoloration of the flesh), salt it, then let it rest for about thirty minutes. After that, simply rinse the Eggplant and cook as usual.
Price: $ 2.50 a pound, and up
The Summer Certified Farmers’ Market accepts CalFresh EBT Cards, WIC Farmers’ Market Checks, and Senior Farmers’ Market Checks. The Market also offers Market Bucks that can be purchased using charge cards or cash, then used at the market for purchases.
The Certified Farmers’ Markets are the Coachella Valley’s only State and County Certified Farmers’ Markets. That means all the fruits, vegetables, meats and other products that are on sale at the markets have been grown on California Certified farms. In addition, almost all the farms are located within a 90 mile radius of the markets (thus reducing the carbon footprint), and more than 60% of the products sold are “USDA Certified Organic.”
The Certified Farmers Markets are sponsored by the Palm Springs Cultural Center, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, which was established to encourage the development of the cultural arts in the Coachella Valley with a specific focus in the areas of film, fine art, live performance, dance, music, and community festivals. The Center is dedicated to advancing education, to nurturing community-wide participation in the cultural arts, and to sponsoring scholarship awards for deserving individuals.