Saving Eggplant Seeds

Learn how to save seeds from eggplants.


| October 2015



eggplant flower

Eggplant flowers are self-pollinating, but because they are chasmogamous, the flowers are also commonly insect-pollinated.


Photo courtesy Seed Savers Exchange

The Seed Garden (Seed Savers Exchange, 2015) by Micaela Colley & Jared Zystro and edited by Lee Buttala & Shanyn Siegel brings together decades of research and hands-on experience to teach both novice gardeners and seasoned horticulturists how to save the seeds of their favorite vegetable varieties.

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Seed Garden.

Between its architectural branching habit and its glossy-skinned fruits, which vary in color, pattern, and shape, eggplant is as suitable for cultivation in a container or an ornamental border as it is for the vegetable garden. And given that this species has self-compatible, perfect flowers and pollination is easy to manage, gardeners can save seeds from multiple varieties of eggplant with minimal effort. Although eggplant seeds are tightly embedded in the flesh of the fruits, extracting eggplant seeds is fairly simple with the help of a food processor or a blender.

Crop Types

Eggplants, also known as aubergines or brin­jals, are grown for their edible immature fruits. Varieties display a wide range of fruit sizes, shapes, patterns, and colors ranging from the elongated white fruits of ‘Casper’, to the shiny, pear-shaped, purple-black fruits produced by ‘Florida High Bush’, to the 2-inch-round striped fruits of ‘Lao Green Stripe’. The oval pale-green fruits of ‘Applegreen’, the long lavender eggplants of ‘Pingtung Long’, the diminutive ‘Thai Yellow Egg’, and the pink-and-white-skinned Italian heirloom ‘Rosa Bianca’ also lend colors to the species’ broad palette. The flesh color of these fruits can vary, too, from white to green, depend­ing on the variety.

“Easter Egg” varieties were once thought of as a separate species, but they can cross-pollinate with other eggplants and are now classified as the same species. However, ‘Red Ruffled’ and other scarlet-fruited types (Turkish eggplant, Ethiopian eggplant, jiló) are a separate species, Solanum aethiopicum, and are not cross-compatible with garden eggplants. Typically eaten while its fruits are green and immature, Solanum aethiopicum bears fruits that ripen to scarlet. Its seeds can be extracted and processed in a similar manner to those of Solanum melongena.

History

Unlike the other cultivated crops in the Solanaceae, eggplants were not first domesticated in the Americas. In fact, the wild relatives of eggplant are present throughout Africa and Asia. Although there is still debate, many researchers now believe that eggplants were domesticated at least twice, once in India and once in China. Some researchers believe that the “Easter Egg” types of eggplant (Solanum melongena subsp. ovigerum) were derived from a third domesti­cation event in Southeast Asia. Written records in both India and China indicate that eggplants have been used in these regions for at least 2,000 years. From India, eggplants traveled west on trading routes to Africa and the Mediterranean region. From China, eggplants traveled east to Korea and Japan. The Southeast Asian eggplants remained mostly localized in that region until the modern era. Eggplants were first introduced to Europe via Spain and Italy during the Middle Ages, but like tomatoes, they did not become a significant part of European cuisine until centuries later. Eggplants were first brought to the Americas by the Spanish in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries but were not readily adopted as a food crop until later.





mother earth news fair

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!

LEARN MORE