Friday, July 29, 2011

Discovering Turkish Orange Eggplant

The other day at the farmers' market I bought a variety of eggplant—Turkish Orange—that I had never seen before. They are a vibrant orange, a little smaller than a tennis ball and hold less water than other eggplants.

Nevia No, the farmer selling them, told me she sliced them thinly (using a mandoline) and made eggplant chips (think potato
chips). I tried the same and the results were, for the most part, good.

The beautiful orange color and pleasant eggplant flavor survived cooking, but a bitter aftertaste was also present. My initial thought is that this was caused by the skin reacting with the olive oil. I'll do some research, but does anyone have any ideas?

Turkish Orange are also good for stuffing; I may try that over the weekend.


Jesse C said...

Eggplant can be pretty bitter naturally. Slice it, sprinkle it with salt, and let it set for a half hour or so. Pour off the liquid that leaches out and rinse the salt off. The bitterness should be substantially reduced.

jimjim421 said...

It's true that eggplant can be naturally bitter, but I fried up a batch of Turkish Oranges and they were sweet and eggplanty, not watery at all and had no bitterness whatsoever.

I just fried them extra virgin olive oil like I would any other eggplant--dusted with flour, dipped in egg and coated with Italian bread crumbs. DELICIOUS!

Chef Rob said...

I would imagine that bitterness varies in part due to soil conditions, growing temperature, etc.

Anonymous said...

Eggplants are always cut and salted then left for awhile, as the first commenter pointed out. That is standard practice with eggplants. They can also be baked with a splash of olive oil, a little mustard and Parmasan cheese until crispy to avoid a heavy oil..... so good for you!

G. Denham said...

I've tried a half-dozen or so eggplant varieties, and this was the first one I thought was bitter. It had above-average flavour, otherwise. Maybe it needs aggressive salting.

perilandmishap said...

I grew these in my garden this year and can attest that they are bitter when they reach that gorgeous bright orange color. After doing some research I've found that you are supposed to harvest them early, when they have just a touch of orange on them.

Garden Web has a few useful posts about this. Most users say that they do not need to be salted, that is typically done to remove moisture and this eggplant does not retain much. Also, the more moisture you remove the more oil they will soak up when frying.

Michael Parks said...

These eggplant need to be harvested when they are between green and cream color. That is when they have the best non-bitter, sweet taste. Do not use salt on these at this stage. If they get to be orange, they are pretty good if pickled.

Anonymous said...

Supposedly the turkish orange are less bitter when still green.

But why not enjoy the bitterness? The cuisines of Southeast Asia, India, and Africa, frequently make use of the bitter types of eggplant as well as bitter melon/gourd and other species and varieties of solanum with varying degrees of bitterness. The turkish orange is remeniscant of one of the African species called bitter ball. The bitternes, albeit an acquired taste, when paired with the right seasonings and accompaniments can be quite savory.
Bon appetite!

Anonymous said...

Well said. I am growing some and will be disappointed if they are not bitter. The bitter African Aubergine is used as a side dish with wide variety of rice based food. Such as Jollof Rice, palmoil stew with rice, okra soup with rice or fufu, ect ect.