Q. The fruit on my eggplant was delicious during its early production. Now, the fruit we harvest is bitter and has brown areas on it.
A. The bitter fruit is caused by plant stress and subsequent slow growth stimulated by hot, dry weather. The brown area is caused by sun scalding. If the scalding is not too severe, it can be removed and the eggplant eaten.
Q. What causes eggplant fruit to become misshapen and odd colored?
A. Poor-quality eggplant fruit are generally associated with low moisture and high temperature conditions. Also, overmature eggplant fruit will become dull colored and often develop a bronze appearance. For maximum production, remove the eggplant fruit before they are fully mature to allow additional fruit to develop.
Q. Recently one of my eggplants died within a few days. I found a white fungal mat at the base of the plant. What caused this?
A. This is southern blight, a soilborne disease which can be controlled by rotation and proper decomposition of leaf tissue in the upper soil layer.
Q. The fruit of my eggplant develops a rotted area which extends deep into the fruit.
A. This could be caused by several things but is probably Alternaria fruit rot. This is not to be confused with Phomopsis fruit rot which produces a dish-shaped spot which turns brown and has ring-like structures around it. Alternaria fruit rot is controlled with the normal spray program used for Phomopsis fruit rot such as captan.
Q. The foliage of my eggplant is turning yellow.
A. This is eggplant yellows or virus of eggplant. An insect-transmitted virus, it can cause severe stunting of the plant and reduce yields. Destroy infected plants to prevent spread to surrounding healthy plants.
Q. My eggplants have quit producing. The leaves are turning yellow and falling off.
A. These are symptoms of spider mites. Check the underside of the leaves for small red mites. If mites are found, control them with Kelthane, malathion or sulfur dust. Use as directed on the label.
Description - The eggplant, a member of the nightshade family, is grown for its edible fruit. Fruits are most commonly purple in color but may also be white or green and are produced on vigorous growing plants that often are four feet tall. The fruit of most varieties are three to five inches in diameter and seven to nine inches long. Some of the newer varieties produce fruit that are slender and eight to ten inches long.
Culture - The eggplant is a solanaceous plant like tomato and responds to the same basic cultural care. Plants should be set in the garden in early spring after all danger of frost. Maintain the plants in a vigorous state of growth with adequate fertilizer and moisture. Drought stress will result in the development of bitter flavor.
Availability - Eggplant is a commercially grown crop throughout Texas. Locally grown fruit will be on the market from early June through November. Production from California, Florida, and Mexico provides eggplant in the winter and spring months.
Selection - Select fruit that have a glossy shine and are six to eight inches long. A dull or brown color signals that the fruit is over mature, and will be tough and bitter.
Storage - Eggplant is best if it is consumed soon after harvest or purchase. Optimum storage conditions for eggplant are 40 to 50o F. and a humidity near 85 percent. Even under ideal conditions, the fruit will keep only about seven to ten days.
Nutrition Information - Eggplant is low in calories and high in potassium. A 3 ounce serving contains 28 calories.
Preparation - When ready to cook, use a vegetable peeler or knife to remove the skin if tough. If skin is tender, you need not peel. Cut in " slices or to 1" strips. To cook, dip in flour or fine bread or cracker crumbs, in an egg beaten with two tablespoons milk, and again in the flour or crumbs. Cook in skillet containing hot fat until brown on one side, turn and brown on the other side. Serve hot, sprinkle with salt and grated Parmesan cheese.
Microwave Instructions - Prepare just before cooking. Cut off cap, remove skin or leave on for color contrast, and cut into 3/4" cubes. Place in 2-qt. casserole with two tablespoons butter. Cover. Microwave on high seven to ten minutes. Stir every two minutes.