Although eggplant is often thought of as a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern vegetable, it has been cultivated in India for at least 4,000 years. In China, it has had a role in cooking for over 2,500 years, while Arab traders brought it to Europe and Africa. Credit for introducing it to North America goes to Thomas Jefferson who imported seeds for his garden some 200 years ago.
There are several types of eggplant and all require a warm climate. The best-known variety in North America and Europe is the purple eggplant. It’s elongated in shape and resembles a large pear. Other types of eggplant like the white, round, elongated and harlequin (streaked) are categorized as oriental eggplants. They have white spongy flesh and contain seeds, with some varieties having more than others.
Eggplant is available from August to October.