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Turkish eggplants are small and globular, averaging 7 centimeters in diameter. When young, the outer skin is smooth, firm, and green with dark green striations and the inner creamed-colored flesh contains a few undeveloped, seeds. If left on the vine to mature, the skin will turn orange with red striations and the inner flesh will have many bitter, but edible seeds. Turkish eggplants are sweet and tender when harvested immature and will take on an increasingly bitter flavor as they mature.
Turkish eggplants are available mid to late summer.
Turkish eggplants, botanically classified as Solanum aethiopicum, are members of the Solanaceae, or nightshade family, which includes potatoes and tomatoes. Also known as Scarlet eggplant, Ethiopian eggplant, Gilo, Garden Eggs and Mock tomato, Turkish eggplants are favored and often used as a culinary ingredient when they are green and young. It is also commonly used as an ornamental fruit and offers vibrant red and orange hues for an aesthetically eye-catching decoration.
Turkish eggplants contain some fiber, potassium, and calcium.
Turkish eggplants are best suited for cooked applications such as grilling, sautéing, baking, frying, pureeing, stewing, and pickling. When young, they are popularly used in stews and curries. As they mature and take on a more bitter flavor, they are typically hollowed, stuffed with grains and other vegetables, and baked. They can also be pickled. Turkish eggplants pair well with garlic, peaches, fennel, herbs such as oregano, cilantro, mint, and parsley, cinnamon, lemon juice, Greek yogurt, pine nuts, and basmati rice. Turkish eggplants will keep up to three days when stored in a cool and dry place.
In the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil, the Gilo or Jiló is one of the traditional foods that is commonly used in stir-fries and roasting dishes. It was introduced to Brazil from the decedents of African slaves that settled in the region. Today Gilo has recently increased in popularity on the East Coast in the United States due to the rise of Brazilian immigrants wanting to bring native, comfort foods with them to their new homes.
Turkish eggplants are native to Africa and are believed to be more closely related to wild eggplant species than the traditional purple eggplant grown in Asia. Turkish eggplants made their way from Africa to the Americas and Europe via the slave trade. Today Turkish eggplants can be found in specialty grocers and farmers markets in South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, the United States, and Europe.
Recipes that include Turkish Eggplant. One is easiest, three is harder.
|NPR||Roasted Turkish Eggplant with Fennel and White Peaches|
|Tigers and Strawberries||Hyderabadi Bagara Baigan: Eggplant Curry In a Peanut Sauce|
|Nall's Kitchen||Stuffed Turkish Eggplant|
|Ask Chef Dennis||Stuffed Turkish Orange Eggplants|