October 14, 2020 | Number of The Day
NJ’s national ranking for acres of eggplant harvested

Tomatoes. Check. Cranberries. Check. Eggplant. What?

Those among us who haven’t delved deeply into the Garden State’s fruit and vegetable bounty may be surprised to learn that, according to the 2019 federal Census of Agriculture, New Jersey led the nation in acres of eggplant harvested.

The census indicates New Jersey harvested 849 acres of eggplant in 2019, ahead of California’s 705, Florida’s 685 and Georgia’s 624. No other state harvested more than 500 acres.

Those 849 acres yield about 16 million pounds of Jersey Fresh Eggplant, with a production value of roughly $6 million. During peak season, farmers can harvest 900 or more bushels of eggplant per day.

If the thought of eggplant conjures up nothing more than a bland, unbalanced purple vegetable, click over to the Jersey Fresh site for recipes ranging from ratatouille-filled squash to rollatini. Or go wild with Google and check out these varieties — Italian, Sicilian, Indian, zebra, white and fairytale.