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
Thai eggplant growing should occur in areas with long, hot growing seasons. Thai eggplant seedlings should be planted 2 feet (61 cm.) 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 degrees F. (12 C.). When growing Thai eggplant, keep the plants consistently damp; don't let the soil dry out. Thai eggplant grows well with carrots, marigolds, and mints, but not as well when paired with beans, corn, dill, broccoli, and cauliflower.
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 (59 ml.) 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.
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Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.
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