Certainly if you are a vegetarian, you’re familiar with eggplant since it is often used in recipes as a meat substitute. Really, a number of regional cuisines laud the eggplant from Mediterranean foods to Thai cuisine. If you are an eggplant fan, you may wonder how to grow Thai eggplants.
Thai Eggplant Varieties
What does a Thai eggplant look like? Thai eggplant varieties may be purple, white, red or green and are smaller than other eggplant varietals. Native to Thailand, these eggplants range from the round green variety to slender, elongated Thai yellow eggplant or Thai white eggplant.
Thai eggplants thrive in tropical climates and have a tender skin and delicate flavor. Of the many varietals, Thai green eggplant is the most popular and the one most likely found at specialty Asian markets. These little fruits are the size of golf balls and are prized for use in Thai curry dishes.
How to Grow Thai Eggplants
As mentioned, Thai eggplant growing should occur in areas with long, hot growing seasons. Thai eggplant seedlings should be planted 2 feet apart, preferably in a raised bed with a soil pH of between 5.5 and 6.5.
Cover seedlings at night to protect them if cold snaps are imminent, as these tropical plants are not suited to night temperatures below 53 F. (12 C.). When growing Thai eggplant, keep the plants consistently damp; don’t let the soil dry out.
Caring for Thai Eggplants
- Prior to fruit set, the plants will bear purple or white flowers. Sometimes the flowers are harvested and used in cold veggie or noodle dishes.
- Once fruit has set when caring for your Thai eggplant, pinch a few back, allowing only about four fruit per bush.
- Fertilize the plants with a ¼ cup of food, scattered at the base of the plant every three weeks.
Thai Eggplant Uses
As previously mentioned, eggplant, Thai or otherwise, is often used in vegetarian meals as a replacement for meat. In Thai cuisine, eggplant is commonly used in curries, noodle, veggie, and rice dishes.
With a scant 40 calories a cup, eggplant makes for a low calorie veggie for those watching their weight. They are great grilled, stir fried, pickled or made into a relish combined with diced tomato, tahini and fresh parsley served over fish.
Thai eggplant by itself doesn’t freeze well. If you have a surplus of the fruit to use up, try pickling it or freeze it in casserole dishes for future use.