Week of July 28, 2015 - Nightshade Walk

Monday, July 27, 2015 11:07 AM | Anonymous

Nightshade Walk

No, nightshades don’t grow at night. Like all plants, they depend on the sun to fuel their metabolic processes. They do grow fast though. When days are long and nights are warm and there is plenty of rain, the plants and fruits can seem to double in size “overnight.”

Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
Here is eggplant. The flowers look strange: Downward facing,* prominently veined purple petals, swollen yellow anthers, lurking beneath the leaves. The fruits look odd too: glossy, almost black, sinuous, snaky, swollen, pregnant. Look at the dried flower and its sepals at the stem end of the eggplant. Are you sure this is safe to eat? It looks as though it might inappropriate thoughts.        
* Monica Jean wanted to know why I was laying on my back to take a photo of a flower!

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)
These cherry tomatoes look a little like eggplants due to their purple coloration. We are discovering that purple colors in food are a sign that those foods are particularly rich in powerful antioxidants called anthocyanins. These tomatoes turn red when ripe, but retain their purple tops for added nutrition. The flowers are more splayed than the eggplant flowers but have the characteristic beaked shape of edible nightshades. (Poisonous nightshades have flowers that are bell-like or trumpet-shaped.)

Tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica)
I am enamored of tomatillos staying power. Ones I picked last fall were still good to eat in February. They stayed good far longer than my lacto-fermented salsa, which lost its crunch after a while and was less appetizing when mushy. Tomatillos strike me as being close to their wild ancestors. They are so easy to grow and bear so well that many CSAs are offering them. Like their nightshade sisters, tomatillos seem a bit strange, with their papery covering. Why not give them a try – or two? They are easy to use and easy to like.

~ From the Recipe Box - Nightshades ~

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