Aubergine – Nutrient-Rich and Low-Calorie

Aubergines, also known as eggplant in the USA, are fruiting vegetables and part of the solanum family. Due to their striking deep purple colour, aubergines stand out in the vegetable department. Their high water content means that aubergines are very low calorie – 100g of aubergine contains approximately 25 calories. Additionally, they contain high amounts of vitamin B1 and B2, folic acid and fibre. As most of the nutrients are contained in the skin, it is important to consume not only the flesh, but the whole aubergine.

Food Facts Food Facts

Aubergine

Class

solanum

Calories

25 kcal per 100 g

Nutrients

6 g carbohydrates, 3.5 g sugar, 3 g fibre, 0.2 g fat, 1 g protein per 100 g

Season

available year-round

Storage

store separately from other fruit and vegetables in the cellar or in the pantry

Shelf life

4 to 5 days

Aubergine – Origin and Cultivation

The aubergine originates from India and China, where it has been cultivated and consumed for more than 4,000 years. Arabic traders brought the aubergine to Europe in the 13th century. While we are unsure of the exact route of the aubergine through Europe, it’s likely to have first arrived in Italy, where it has been grown since approximately 1550.

Aubergines prefer warm climates, which is why in Europe they are primarily cultivated in Italy and Spain. Swiss Aubergine is largely from the canton of Ticino and the region surrounding Lake Geneva. Outside of Europe, most aubergine is grown in China, Turkey, Egypt or Indonesia.

If you think the purple aubergine is the only aubergine, you are wrong. Although this type is most widely distributed in Europe, especially in Asia aubergines are available in a multitude of stunning colours: yellow, pink, green, white and even in purple with white marbling. The shape too can differ: Thai aubergines, for example, are small and round, but the Chinese aubergine is long and thin. 

Aubergine – A Culinary Jack-Of-All-Trades

Aubergines are popular in kitchens the world over, mainly because they are so versatile. Although they have a slightly bitter taste, the bitter compounds are easily removed. Simply cut the aubergine lengthways or into discs, then sprinkle some salt over them and leave them to rest for half an hour. Not only does this method remove the bitter compounds, but also dehydrates the aubergine, meaning it will better absorb any spices or sauces. Before cooking, make sure to remove the excess salt.

With or without removing the bitter compounds, there are many ways to cook aubergines and it can be used in almost any type of dish. However, it should never be consumed raw, as raw aubergine contains too much solanine, a toxin which can cause nausea and stomach cramps. Aubergine can be steamed, grilled, fried or deep-fried. It is particularly delicious with melted cheese, breaded as a schnitzel replacement, with tomato sauce, or simply sprinkled with a little olive oil and lemon and roasted in the oven.

In the Middle East aubergine is often served as a puree or paste, in India they are filled with other types of vegetables and the Japanese serve it marinated in soy sauce. In France, aubergines are one of the star ingredients in the world famous ratatouille. 

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