Orient Express Eggplant Info – How To Grow An Orient Express Asian Eggplant


By: Mary Ellen Ellis

Eggplantsare versatile, tasty, and easy-to-grow vegetables for the home gardener.Popular in several types of cuisine, there are many varieties from which to choose.For your garden’s next eggplant, Orient Express is a fun type to try. It hassome properties that makes it both easier to grow and easier to enjoy in thekitchen.

What are Orient Express Eggplants?

Orient Express is an Asian variety of eggplant known as Solanum melongena. It is a dependable,high-yield type of eggplant with pretty, deep purple-black fruits with adelicate skin. They are longer and narrower than typical eggplants.

For cooking, the Orient Express Asian eggplant is desirablefor its light flavor and thin skin. Because it is narrow, only about 1.5 to 2.5inches (4 to 6 cm.) in diameter, it doesn’t take long to cook. And with thethinner skin, there is no need to peel before eating. As with other types ofeggplant, you can enjoy this one grilled, roasted, fried, and in most anycooked vegetable dish or casserole.

Growing Orient Express Eggplants

Orient Express is an early variety of eggplant, but it isactually even earlier than other early types. Expect your eggplants to be readyup to two weeks sooner than other varieties. If you want a steady supply ofeggplant from the garden, this is a good choice to get the season and theharvest started. You can also rely on this variety to set fruit even if weatheris chilly or unusually hot.

Another important piece of Orient Express eggplantinformation you need before you plan on growing it is that the seeds can takelonger to germinate than you might expect. Allow extra time when starting withseeds and make sure the soil is warm enough, between 80- and 90-degreesFahrenheit (27 to 32 Celsius).

Your Orient Express plants will do best in soil that isfertile and slightly acidic, and that drains well. Start seeds inside and movetransplants outdoors after the last frost. Eggplants can be tender, so it helpsto harden them a little before moving outdoors. If you have a cooler part ofthe home you can transition them to before going outside, do so.

Once your eggplants are thriving outdoors, keep them wateredregularly, prune and stake as needed and get ready for a big, early harvest.

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Read more about Eggplants


Proven Methods for Growing Chinese Eggplant

Grown in Asia for thousands of years, Chinese eggplants (Solanum melongena) feature long, slender fruit with dark purple skin. They're sweet and tender with almost no bitter flavor, and are suitable for planting in containers or gardens.

What Are the Chinese Eggplant Varieties?

  • Oriental Charm
  • Orient Express
  • Machiaw
  • Asian Beauty
  • Ping Tung Long

What Are the Best Climate Conditions?

Chinese eggplants originated in tropical and subtropical regions, so they require full sun and warm temperatures for adequate growth. When planting them outside, make sure the temperature ranges from 70°F (21°C) to 85°F (29°C).

What Are the Soil Required Soil Conditions?

Chinese eggplants thrive in fertile, well-drained soil. They require a PH range of 6.2 to 6.8. For strong root development, loosen the soil from six to eight inches. Break up the soil with a tiller or garden shovel, and make sure it reaches a temperature of 60 °F (15°C) before planting your seedlings.

How to Plant from Seed

Once you’ve chosen the Chinese eggplant variety, sow your seeds indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the last frost. For your seeds to germinate, they need warm soil ranging from 80° (27°C) to 90°F (32°C). Sow four seeds, about one-quarter-inch deep into warm soil. Once the leaves form, thin the seedlings to 2 to 3 inches apart. After they emerge, they only require a temperature of 70°F (21°C).

How to Transplant Seedlings

Once your seedlings are 6 to 8 inches tall, you can transplant them into your garden 18-inches apart. Keep the rows from 30 to 36-inches apart. Harden off the seedlings before planting them. Do this by putting them outdoors in the daytime, and bringing them inside at night for three days. The outside soil temperature should be at least 60°F (15°C) before transplanting. It helps to spread plastic mulch around the seedling to keep them warm.

When to Harvest Chinese Eggplants

After you transplant your seedlings, they take from 50 to 60 days to mature, depending on the Chinese eggplant variety. They should be about 18-inches long with firm skin when they’re ripe. Use garden shears to clip the eggplants off, close to the stem. When you harvest your eggplants regularly, it encourages more eggplant production.


How to Pick a Seedless Eggplant

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Eggplants grow during the warm frost-free months of summer when temperatures average 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Most eggplants require 70 to 85 days from transplanting to produce a mature fruit. Some varieties of eggplant, such as “Orient Express,” produce nearly seedless fruits. This makes the tender flesh more appetizing and can reduce bitterness. Picking any eggplant variety at the correct time minimizes the size of the seeds and results in a more flavorful vegetable.

Monitor the plants after fruit begins to form. Pick eggplants once they reach full size for the variety and develop their full color. Harvest eggplants with firm, glossy skins and avoid those streaked with brown because they have overmatured and will have tough seeds and a bitter flavor.

Hold the mature eggplant in one hand to support the fruit during harvest. Cut through the stem with a sharp knife or shears. Avoid pulling on the eggplant to avoid plant damage.

Store the eggplant in a 50-degree Fahrenheit location for up to one week. Wipe the skin clean with a damp towel before cutting and using the eggplant.


Short-, Mid-, and Long-Season Eggplant Varieties

Eggplant Varieties: Grow an eggplant variety suited to the number of days in your region that can match the soil and air temperatures eggplants demand.

Eggplants grow best in the garden when the soil temperature and daytime air temperature is at least 70°F and the night temperature is greater than 60°F. There is no reward for setting eggplant seedlings outdoors when temperatures are cooler—they will only suffer.

Grow an eggplant variety suited to the number of days in your region that can match the soil and air temperatures eggplants demand. Choose a short-season eggplant if the number of consecutive days of very warm temperatures is less than 70 choose a mid-season eggplant if very warm temperatures do not exceed 80 consecutive days choose a long season eggplant if you have a long and warm growing season. If your growing season is long, you can plant both short-, mid-, and long-season eggplants for early and late harvests or a succession of harvests of differing varieties.

Starting eggplants. Eggplants are commonly set in the garden as transplants start seed indoors 8 to 12 weeks before you plan to set plants out in the garden, or buy eggplants starts—already 8 weeks old or more–ready for transplanting from a garden center.

Feeding eggplants. Wait to feed eggplants until after they have flowered and set fruit earlier feeding will only boost leaf growth, not fruit growth. After fruit set, simply feed eggplants with a side-dressing of aged steer manure or aged compost, or spray them with fish emulsion. Feeding eggplants before fruit set will delay the harvest.

Watering eggplants. Eggplants do not demand as much water as peppers and tomatoes. Water eggplant seedlings early to establish roots, but when plants flower and set fruit a deep watering once a week is sufficient. Eggplants are drought tolerant too much water can hinder fruit development. In very hot regions, mulch eggplants to keep roots from overheating.

Harvesting eggplants. For the best flavor, pick eggplants early, young and tender. ‘Baby’ eggplants are sweeter tasting that mature eggplants. Pick fruits when the skins are glossy and shiny an overripe eggplant has a dull skin. Overripe eggplant will be seedy and bitter tasting. The easiest way to harvest eggplant is to use a pruning shear cut the fruit away with a little bit of stem attached to the fruit.


Vegetables and Fruit forum→Eggplant Reports. This is the Eggplant thread.

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Anyway my point is I am harvesting eggplants!!

So I have Little Fingers which I have had before. Am always pleased with these. Lots of them and the plants just keep cranking them out.But they are somewhat small as one would expect.

Two small fruited similar types would be Hansel (purple) and Gretel (white). Slightly larger than little fingers but otherwise really similar. Can't find those plants locally any more.

New for me was Parks Whopper. Wow, lovely italian type eggplants and it just keeps on producing. I bought a six pack but maybe will buy more next season. But I will have them for sure.

So join in. Which are your favorite? Which are disappointments?

Last year my test variety was Black Knight, performed well

Over the years I have grown Black Beauty, Green Goddess, Baluroi, Casper, Classic, Cloud Nine, Edna, Epic, Itchiban, Long Ship, Money Maker #2, Nubia, Orient Express, Slim Jim, Twilight, Vittoria. They are in the database.

Only real disapointments were Slim Jim. (just too small for my uses) and Long Ship (Just too skinny, 12 inch long eggplant with a 1 inch diameter just does not do it for me.)


Honestly I have been looking for much more production in my Italian Purple Eggplants.

Classic and Black Beauty don't produce much so I was thrilled with the Park's Whopper Eggplants this year. Big improvement.

Now with your input I have more larger fruited purple eggplants to check into.


Parks Whopper eggplants. I know I could leave them to get much larger.


I'm also growing Ping Tung Long for the first time this year--the plant is huge and healthy, but no fruit yet. That concerns me a bit.



mom2goldens said: I'm growing Fairy Tale for about the third year. I am not a huge eggplant fan, but love these little ones to grill. The plants do well in containers and are SO prolific. I also like to smoke them and make a smoked eggplant/yogurt dip. It freezes well, too so a good way to preserve our extra harvest.

I'm also growing Ping Tung Long for the first time this year--the plant is huge and healthy, but no fruit yet. That concerns me a bit.

I have already harvested eggplants off my Ping Tung Long so I agree that it is unusual not to have fruit set already.

I LOVE Fairy Tale. just love it. Can't find plants locally so I don't have it this year. Perfect beautiful nice sized eggplants and they just keep on coming no matter how much you pick.


Tom, you sure have better luck with the Black Beauty than I did. Like everything else I grow I need abundant production from my eggplants. If I don't get that then I look for another variety to grow.


We are smoking a chicken tonight, so I'm going to smoke up a bunch of my eggplant for a eggplant/yogurt dip I make.

It's so hot here today, it's just miserable to be outside. Got my watering and garden walk done early today


mom2goldens said: So as I was harvesting eggplant today, I actually did find a Ping Tung Long that was ready to harvest.

We are smoking a chicken tonight, so I'm going to smoke up a bunch of my eggplant for a eggplant/yogurt dip I make.

It's so hot here today, it's just miserable to be outside. Got my watering and garden walk done early today

So at least you do have an eggplant. Those fruits are good at hiding. Mine are in an eggplant jungle.



I don't think the eggplant mind the foliage jungle. Mine are a foliage jungle and they seem to be thriving. I do water them a lot.



Sounds like a good system.


Please post your smoked eggplant/yogurt dip recipe!

I'm growing Gretels again. It's an Asian hybrid, just enough for me to keep up with. Although, next season I'll add either a Beatrice or try the Black Shine or Park's Whopper mentioned above to get a larger size for meaty recipes.

The Gretels are VERY prolific, growing to 5-6" in only 3-4 days after the bloom. My plants were petering out after all the rain and humidity we've had here in Houston, so, I took a calculated risk. I harvested EVERY fruit off the plants, gave them a good dose of Triple 13, and watered them in well. After about one week, they were full of new blooms and have started cranking out a whole second crop.

The skins on this fruit are tender enough that you don't have to peel them, if they are harvested between 4-6" long. I've learned to eyeball when they're just about at peak. Generally, in that 4-6" length, with some "heft" to the individual fruit. Some get to that length, but are skinny and lightweight. These I leave alone until they get some "heft," and it doesn't seem to affect the taste, although the skin gets a tiny bit chewier.

Gretel has a black counterpart called (you guessed it) HANSEL! I grew them together the first season, and I much prefer the Gretels for my uses. Nothing wrong with Hansel. The characteristics are just a bit different. Hansel fills out more than Gretels at their peak, and the skins are much tougher from the beginning. I don't relish having to peel the Hansels, so, I stick with the Gretels. Although, Hansel would make a fine grilling veggie, if just split down the middle. I generally just cut Gretels into 1" coins for my recipes. She cooks up very quickly!

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Gretel!

Observation: The Gretels in my patented Earthboxes (one each, in 3 EBs) have consistently lagged behind in production and, the fruits have remained smaller. The EBs get fed on a regular basis, but, the plants aren't as productive as the ones in the ground.



Eggplant Beignets

3 cups boiled and mashed #Eggplant
Let cool
Add:
►1/2 cup sugar
►3 tablespoons Vanilla
►2 cups Self-rising flour

Mix above ingredients, then add 2 eggs, and mix by hand
Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan.
Drop mixture by the spoonful into the frying pan, and fry until golden brown on both sides.

Optional: Sprinkle with powdered Sugar


I'm growing Gretels again. It's an Asian hybrid, just enough for me to keep up with. Although, next season I'll add either a Beatrice or try the Black Shine or Park's Whopper mentioned above to get a larger size for meaty recipes.

The Gretels are VERY prolific, growing to 5-6" in only 3-4 days after the bloom. My plants were petering out after all the rain and humidity we've had here in Houston, so, I took a calculated risk. I harvested EVERY fruit off the plants, gave them a good dose of Triple 13, and watered them in well. After about one week, they were full of new blooms and have started cranking out a whole second crop.

The skins on this fruit are tender enough that you don't have to peel them, if they are harvested between 4-6" long. I've learned to eyeball when they're just about at peak. Generally, in that 4-6" length, with some "heft" to the individual fruit. Some get to that length, but are skinny and lightweight. These I leave alone until they get some "heft," and it doesn't seem to affect the taste, although the skin gets a tiny bit chewier.

Gretel has a black counterpart called (you guessed it) HANSEL! I grew them together the first season, and I much prefer the Gretels for my uses. Nothing wrong with Hansel. The characteristics are just a bit different. Hansel fills out more than Gretels at their peak, and the skins are much tougher from the beginning. I don't relish having to peel the Hansels, so, I stick with the Gretels. Although, Hansel would make a fine grilling veggie, if just split down the middle. I generally just cut Gretels into 1" coins for my recipes. She cooks up very quickly!

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Gretel!

Observation: The Gretels in my patented Earthboxes (one each, in 3 EBs) have consistently lagged behind in production and, the fruits have remained smaller. The EBs get fed on a regular basis, but, the plants aren't as productive as the ones in the ground.

I really recommend those Parks Whoppers for the larger Italian Size fruit like you might get in the Supermarket.

Anyway, mainly my point is I loved reading your report on your Hansel and Gretel Eggplants. I heartily agree on them both being superb. One year (was it two or three years ago?) I was lucky enough to find plants locally and bought both. Yes, Gretel is the better of the two but that is really being nit picky for me as I loved both. Really was displeased that no one locally carried plants these past few years.

I really would love to grow both again and I might have to resort to buying seed and starting my own plants.


Heeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Gretel!

Observation: The Gretels in my patented Earthboxes (one each, in 3 EBs) have consistently lagged behind in production and, the fruits have remained smaller. The EBs get fed on a regular basis, but, the plants aren't as productive as the ones in the ground.

Just look at that harvest. Wow, all those lovely white eggplants.


I don't like it and will not be growing it again next season.


Watch the video: Eggplant Spinach Sir Fry - Asian Stir Fry Recipe - Asian Vegan Recipes - Eggplant Recipes


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