Unknown elsewhere, the Melanzana Rossa (Solanum aethiopicum) is a rustic plant grown in all the vegetable gardens in Rotonda inside the Pollino Park at an altitude of about 500-600 metres.
It is very different to the common aubergine (Solanum melongena).
Originally from Africa, the Red Aubergine was first introduced around the end of 1800.
It is the size of an apple and is similar in shape to a tomato.
For this reason it is known locally as “tomato aubergine”.
The fruit is orange with green tones when it begins to ripen and takes on a more intense reddish hue when it is fully ripe.
The Red Aubergine does not turn black after cutting.
Its intense smell is reminiscent of the prickly pear while it is spicy on the palate with a pleasant bitter aftertaste.
It is usually eaten after being preserved in oil or vinegar.
The plants are bedded in May and picking starts in August up until the first cold spells.
Only local ecotypes are used for production.
To preserve them, the small aubergines are “nzertate”, that is, tied into bunches like peppers and cherry tomatoes, and then left to dry in the open air under canopies.