Cutting an aubergine from our very own aubergine plant is far more fun than buying them at the supermarket or greengrocer. The purple fruits hang from the green plant like opulent jewels, making a beautiful focus point in any outdoor space. Home-grown produce always tastes better, too.
Colours and shapes
The aubergine plant, officially known as Solanum melongena, has large, grey leaves, white, pink or purple flowers — and, of course, fruit. The dark purple variety is most common, and is so admired that it has become a colour name in itself. But there are actually many shapes, colours and sizes, from yellow, round aubergines, to white, striped and ridged.
The aubergine is an annual, subtropical plant, originally from Myanmar. The plant arrived in Europe during the Middle Ages.
- The US name for the aubergine is 'eggplant', after the small, white, oval variety.
- The plant is part of the nightshade family, just like tomato, pepper and potato, so never eat aubergine raw, but heat them first so that any toxicity becomes harmless.