Local Food Newsletter – June 2019
Welcome to the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Currituck County Center Local Foods Newsletter! This month’s edition will be focused on eggplant. Enclosed you will find fun facts on eggplant including: origin, planting information, nutritional information, selecting the perfect eggplant, storing, and a healthy recipe! An interactive map is included below that is linked with Google maps. This map allows the user to click on their desired local foods operation and be given directions to the business. Following the map is a quick-reference table containing the local businesses in the area that sell local eggplant.
Fun Fact. This month’s highlighted local food is eggplant. Eggplants are in the family Solanaceae, the same family of plants as tomatoes and potatoes, as well as the toxic plant nightshade. This family of plants produces defensive compounds called alkaloids to deter feeding from insects and other animals on the leaves. Other defensive compounds found in eggplants include nicotine, again used to deter feeding. Nicotine levels in eggplant are higher than any other vegetable, yet you would have to eat 20 lbs to equal one cigarette’s amount of nicotine! If that isn’t enough to deter pests, some varieties of eggplants have thorns. If you can make it past all of these defenses, you will be rewarded with a low calorie vegetable full of vitamins and minerals. Because of this, in India where eggplants originated, it is considered the king of vegetables.
Planting. If you’re interested in planting eggplant, you are in luck because many of soil types and conditions here in Currituck are favorable for eggplant growth. Eggplants require warm temperatures and a long growing season to mature. If you are planning on growing eggplant this year, plant transplants as soon as possible. Eggplants grow best from transplants because of this long time to maturity. Eggplants grow well in sandy, well drained soils, common to many areas in Currituck County. As a result, it will require watering if periods of drought or low rainfall persist, like we have seen at the end of May.
To start, transplants should be planted two feet apart to allow proper room to grow and to prevent overcrowding. With proper spacing, each plant can produce two to six eggplants, so a family will only need to plant a few plants. Depending on variety, eggplants will take between 60 and 85 days to mature, similar to the amount of time it takes sweet corn to mature. Determining when fruit are ready to harvest varies depending on preference and variety. Like squash, smaller eggplants have smaller seeds; however, larger eggplants are still edible.
To harvest, use a sharp knife or small pruning shears to remove fruit. Harvest at least once a week, preferably twice a week, and before flesh becomes tough and seeds begin to harden. Here in Currituck, plants can be cut back after the first crop (late July) and will form a second crop. To do so, mow plants six to eight inches above the soil line to leave two to three leaves. Then fertilize to produce vigorous regrowth and stimulate flowering. Four to six weeks after cutting, plants will produce a second crop until frost.
Video from Penn State University
Nutritional information. Like most vegetables, eggplant is naturally low in calories and has no fat. It is also a good source of vitamins A, C, B, and folate. It is also rich in several minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and protein. A cup of plain eggplant has only 38 calories and 6 grams of carbohydrates. Eggplant is a very good source of fiber.
Selecting. Choose eggplant with a bright purple color, however, there are several varieties that may be pink, striped, or even white. For best quality, look for eggplants that are firm, heavy for size, and free of scars. The skin will be glossy, and the flesh will be firm. Smaller, slender selections usually have smaller seeds and are more tender. Avoid eggplant with brown or blue streaks, or that are shriveled and flabby.
Storing. It is best to store eggplants between 46 and 55°F. Storing below 46° will damage eggplant. Store unwashed in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator without forcing or squeezing them in the crisper, as excessive pressure on the delicate skin will cause bruises and decay. Premium quality fresh eggplant will last for about a week in the refrigerator. Long term storage results in chilling injury, surface scald or bronzing and pitting. Disease will appear during retailing if eggplants are stored too long.
Spicy Vegetable Tacos
Serves 8 | Serving Size: 2 tacos | Prep Time: 40 minutes | Marinate Time: 30-60 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes- 2 hours
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 canned chipotle chilies with
- 3 teaspoons adobo sauce, chopped
- 1 cup olive oil
- 3 large onions, cut in ½-inch thick slices
- 3 medium zucchini, cut in ½-inch thick slices or wedges
- 3 red or green bell peppers, halved and seeded
- 2 medium eggplants, cut in ½-inch thick slices
- 2-3 ears of corn
- 16 whole-wheat soft tortillas
- In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar and water.
- Use a knife to chop together the garlic and chipotle chilies. Add the garlic/chili mix to the vinegar and water mixture.
- Slowly whisk in the oil.
- Transfer the onion, zucchini, bell pepper, and eggplant to the bowl with the marinade, turning to coat. Let sit at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes.
- Preheat grill to medium (350°F to 375°F).
- Remove vegetables from marinade and grill, turning occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes.
- As the other vegetables are grilling, grill the corn until done (approximately 15-20 minutes, turning occasionally).
- Transfer the grilled onion, zucchini, bell pepper, and eggplant to a cutting board and chop roughly.
- Transfer the grilled corn to a cutting board, cut the kernels from the cobs and mix into the chopped vegetables.
- Serve with warm tortillas. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Nutrition Information per Serving:
Serving Size: 2 tacos
Vegetables: 3 cups | Calories: 325 calories | Carbohydrates: 56 grams | Fiber: 14 grams | Protein: 11 grams | Fat: 8 grams | Sodium: 370 mg
Recipe from: Med Instead of Meds
This interactive map contains many of the businesses in Currituck that sell local produce. To view the map legend, click the small square box at the left of the map name. This should bring up a list of the direct sale markets, pick-your-own operations, roadside markets, vineyards and breweries, and N.C. seafood operations on the left. You can then click on the pins on the map or on the legend to view each local business. Each listing will contain a contact number, operating season and hours, and produce the business sells. If you click the View in Google Maps option below the description you will be given directions to the business from your current location.
The highlighted business section shows the businesses that sell the month’s highlighted local food. This month we have eight businesses that will be open and selling eggplant. Information on those businesses can be found in the table below, or in the interactive map above.
|Seaside Farm Market||(252) 619-8285||M-Su, 8 a.m.–8 p.m.||787 Sunset Blvd., Corolla|
|Tar Heel Produce||(252) 491-8600||7 a.m.–6 p.m.||6954 Caratoke Hwy, Grandy|
|Powell’s Roadside Market||(252) 339-9923||7 a.m.–8 p.m.||2138 Caratoke Hwy, Moyock|
|Grandy Greenhouse & Farm Market||(252) 453-2658||8 a.m.–6 p.m.||6264 Caratoke Hwy, Grandy|
|Morris Farm Market||morrisfarmmarket.com||9 a.m. –6 p.m.||3784 Caratoke Hwy, Maple|
|Coinjock Creek Farms||(252) 267-3332||Sunrise – Sunset||112 Maple Rd., Maple|
|Roberts Ridge Farm||(252) 202-9665||M-Sa, 7 a.m.–7 p.m.||501 N Indiantown Rd., Shawboro|
|Martin Farm & Winery||(252) 429-3564||Varies, please call||213 Martin Farm Ln, Knotts Island|
For email reminders of upcoming local foods newsletters fill out this short form. If you have a local food operation you would like advertised in upcoming installments, please fill out our producer form or contact Adam Formella by email or phone at Adam_Formella@ncsu.edu or 252-232-2262.