Ischia Eggplant is a long, dark purple heirloom eggplant from the volcanic island of Ischia, which you can see across the bay from Naples, Italy. Abundantly growing on 4' tall bushy plants with elephant-like leaves, these are superb fruits that are great for eggplant parmesan.
This variety was shared with us by Vinny Motta of Norwalk, Connecticut who got them from a friend whose parents still live in Ischia. Vinny was born in Battipaglia, Italy, which is a town an hour south of Naples that is famed as a production place of buffalo mozzarella. He grew up in the Bronx, earned two degrees in mechanical engineering, and is a dedicated gardener and home cook who is helping Truelove Seeds cofounder Owen Taylor reconnect to his Southern Italian foodways through sharing seeds and recipes. He loves this variety and says he's "never seen eggplants like this." He was inspired to share the seeds with us in order to show us "that it pays to love your grandmother." Vinny had read our descriptions of other southern Italian varieties from our Italian Collection in which Owen lovingly described his great grandmother who was also from south of Naples. Thank you Vinny!
As a side note, the town name Battipaglia likely comes from the words batti (to thresh) and paglia (straw, like from wheat). It feels meaningful to have this wonderful source of ancestral seeds who was born in a town named after the threshing of seeds.
Days to maturity: 70
Seeds per pack: 40
Germination rate: 95% on 1/3/2024
Planting / harvesting notes
Sow seeds indoors 8-12 weeks before the last frost and transplant into the garden well after the danger of frost. 1/4" deep. Keep seedlings moist but do not overwater. Transplants should be initially watered in well, and plants will be most productive with regular irrigation and full sun.
Seed keeping notes
Eggplants are generally self-pollinating, though we isolate different varieties of the same species by 300 feet, in hopes that flying insects will not cross pollinate them unexpectedly. Eggplant seeds are ripe when the fruits get far past their edible stage, and have turned another color, in this case a duller, lighter purple. Cut the fruit, scrape out seeds (perhaps through a heavy-duty screen) into a vessel, add a little water (1-2" is probably plenty) to your seeds and pulp to keep them from drying out, and allow them to ferment away from direct sunlight. Fermentation is not necessary with eggplants, but it makes seed cleaning a bit easier. Ideally, you will stir the concoction every day for 3-5 days. In the end, add more water to fill the vessel, stir one final time, and allow to settle. Pour off the floating material and then strain the seeds through a strainer. Sometimes, you will need to add more water and pour off the floating material several times until the water is clear and you can see the seeds sunken at the bottom. Squeeze dry the strained seeds in a towel, and then lay out to dry on a labeled screen or paper product in a ventilated place away from direct sunlight for a week or two.