24 June, 2009

Sunset Brand Baby Eggplant

I've written about Sunset Brand hydroponic vegetables before - their tomatoes and Ancient Sweets red peppers are unsurpassed for flavor and quality - and now I'm happy to say they've done it again. I found these Sunset baby eggplants in Costco and just couldn't resist trying them.

I really like eggplant, but sometimes it can be difficult to find really good, fresh eggplant in the supermarket. It doesn't take a long time for eggplant to get soft and spongy. When that happens, it's hard to peel and tough to slice. It often tastes bitter, and it can get so "sharp" that it hurts the roof of my mouth to eat it. The fresher the fruit, the less harsh it is, so it's important to choose firm eggplant without wrinkles or depressions in the skin.

The best eggplant, of course, comes out of one's own garden. The next best is the stuff picked in the morning and purchased the same day at the farm stand. But it's only June, and the eggplants are just starting to flower here in New England, so those choices are out of the question. Luckily, Sunset gives us a choice that is just as good as farm-stand fresh.

My Sunset eggplant was at the peak of perfection: Firm and easy to peel, creamy milky pale greenish-tan on the inside. There was a small amount of tiny seeds, but they were hardly bothersome. The fruit sliced beautifully without tearing or bruising.

My favorite ways to make eggplant are the simplest. Sliced, brushed with oil, and grilled brown on both sides over hot coals is one fave. Another is cut into fingers, dipped in egg wash, dredged in flour, and fried. Since it was raining and I couldn't use the grill yesterday, we we went with fried.

The eggplant sticks were delicious. Tender and creamy inside, crispy outside. There was no bitterness or sharpness - in fact, the eggplant tasted slightly sweet. It was as perfect as it could get without being picked from the garden.


Mastronardi Produce's website is loaded with information about their products, and includes recipes, company history, and a contact form in case you love their stuff so much you want to tell them about it.

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