Long Green Bitterball (African Eggplant)
This is a small, bitter, long-shaped eggplant that Dao Kamara, a Liberian farmer at Providence Farm Collective, grows for his community and business in Buffalo. It is eaten often and usually when green. When it turns orange you can also make soup with bitterballs. Also, when the fruit is orange it is at the point when the seeds have fully ripened. It’s also eaten as medicine for fevers or malaria. Bitterballs are one of our favorites!
Also known as: Bitterballs (Long shape).
Days to maturity: 80-90
Seeds per pack: 65-70
Germination rate: 91% on 02/14/2023
Planting / harvesting notes
These are heat-loving, and seeds should be started indoors or in a greenhouse at ¼ inch deep, about 8 weeks before the last frost. Transplant into the garden well after the danger of frost. The growing characteristics are similar to most eggplants. The plants can reach about 4-5 feet tall and should be planted 12 inches apart. They need full sun and fertile soil. Staking helps as the plants become heavy. The eggplants begin green, but should be picked when they are about 2 inches wide and green. They must be picked regularly to keep production and ensure they don’t over ripen. For seed saving the fruits ripen to orange.
Seed keeping notes
Eggplants are generally self-pollinating, though we isolate different varieties of the same species by at least 300 feet, in hopes that flying insects will not cross pollinate them unexpectedly. Eggplant seeds are darkened when the fruits get far past their edible stage, and fruit has turned orange in color. Cut the fruit, scrape out seeds into a vessel, add a little water and allow the seeds to settle. Pour off the floating material and then strain the seeds through a strainer and allow them to dry in heat or shaded sunlight. Lay the seed to dry on a screen or paper tower in a heated area like the greenhouse or right in the kitchen cabinet over the stove.