What is Jilo? Facts & Easy Recipes

What is jilo eggplant?

Ever heard of the scarlet eggplant? It is a plant species that is closely related to the popular eggplant species and tomato. This eggplant variety was introduced to South America from West Africa. It resembles the eggplant plant.

When it matures, the scarlet eggplant bears a green fruit known as a jilo or gilo or garden egg. Jilo grows to the same size as the typical eggplant; 4-8 inches.

When young, they have a soft green outer cover and pale green flesh. Mature and ripe fruits are yellow or red but as most people in Brazil prefer the young bright green fruit.

How to use jilos

When cut, jiló’s flesh has a similar texture to the eggplant’s. But, you’ll notice its pulp is denser. Like eggplants, they can be used in various dishes or fried. Here are some unique jiló recipes.


Fried jilo

fried eggplant


3 lbs jilo eggplant

4 eggs

1½ cup vegetable oil

Black pepper


1 cups breadcrumbs

2 cup all-purpose flour


When choosing jilo for frying, opt for light green fruits. Start by washing the fruits then cut them into thin rounds; about half an inch. Spread them out on paper towels.

If you do not like bitter fruit, do this next step.

Apply kosher salt generously on the cut pieces. This helps the jilo sweat, reducing the bitter taste. You’ll notice droplets of water on the pieces. Let the jilo pieces rest for 30 mins. 

Once done, rinse the salt.

In a bowl mix the eggs, garlic and black pepper. Whisk the mixture. Add some salt and water. Start with coating the cut pieces with flour, then dip them in the egg mixture then finally coat them with the breadcrumbs.

Lay the coated pieces aside on a tray. Heat oil on a skillet. We recommend medium heat. Fry them for 2-3 minutes.

Serve with tomato sauce or marinara

Stuffed Gilo


3 large jilos

2 pounds ground beef

Black pepper

5 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 cup breadcrumbs

2 diced onions

3 chopped tomatoes


Preheat the oven (350 degrees F)

Take the large jiló and cut it in half. Carefully scoop the pulp, leaving enough flesh. In medium heat, boil the pulp until it is tender; it takes about 10 minutes.

In a bowl mix the ground beef, black pepper and salt. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil or olive oil in a saute pan. Add the beef and let it cook until all the liquid evaporates. When cooked, let it cool.

In a separate pan saute the garlic and onions. You can add pepper and other vegetables or herbs.

In a bowl, mix the cooked jiló, beef, sauteed onions and vegetables, and breadcrumbs. Stuff the halves with this mixture then top them up with chopped tomatoes.

Lay the halves on a baking dish then bake for 50 minutes.

When cool, slice them in rounds (widthwise) and serve.

Jiló Green curry

Can you make green curry using gilo? Absolutely yes. And here is my favorite recipe.


2 large jilos (cut into small pieces)

Brown sugar (1tbsp)

Green curry paste (3 tbsp)

1/4 cup sweet basil leaves

Coconut milk (1 can)

Bell pepper, sliced

You’ll need a deep pan for this recipe. Start by adding 1 tablespoon of olive oil and let it heat. Add the sliced jilo and let it cook for 3-4 minutes. As its insides begin to soften, the fruit starts to absorb the oil. Then remove and let them cool.

In another wok, heat some oil and carefully add the green curry paste. Saute for about 30 seconds. Divide the coconut milk in half and add one half to the sauteed curry paste. Let it simmer for about three minutes.

Add the brown sugar and the other half of the coconut milk. Bring them to a boil.

Stir in the cooked jilo and add the bell pepper. Let it cook for about 4 minutes.

Let it cool and serve with rice.

Related Read: Check other fruits with letter J

What do they taste like?

All I can say is gilos are an acquired taste. If you love bitter food, you’ll love this fruit. Jilos are bitter but most people in Brazil who grew up eating them still enjoy them in their adulthood. If you like trying out new foods, I’ll be honest, it’ll take you sometime to like this fruit.

However, one neat trick that locals use is sweating jilo before cooking. This helps in two ways, one the salt removes water from the fruit, making them less bitter. Also, it helps retain their firmness when frying them.


jilo fruit

Like other eggplants, jilos have varieties; two main varieties:

Comprido verde claro – This means long, light green. It’s preferred by a majority of Brazilians. It’s green when young and turns orange-red when ripe. Widely grown in Brazil.

Morro redondo – Portuguese word meaning “round hill”. It remains green even in maturity. Its the most bitter variety and not a favorite among consumers.

Nutritional value

100g of jilo eggplant has 38 calories, 1g of fibers, 2.8 g protein, 7 g of carbohydrates, 7 g of fats. The garden egg is a good source for fibers, vitamin A and iron.

Where to buy

Where can you get jilos? They are widely grown so if in Brazil you can get them directly from the source; farm. In the US, some supermarkets have them in the refrigerated section. Also farmers markets are another place where you can find these bright green fruits.

When can you buy gilo? Jilos are in season July through October.

How to store Jilos

Like eggplants, jilos are quite perishable. When you harvest them from your garden or get them from a farm, you can refrigerate them for seven days. The fresher they are, the longer they can last in the fridge.

Can you freeze jilos? Unfortunately, like eggplants, jilos don’t freeze well. But, if you have more than you can consume in a week, we recommend you cut them in slices, freeze, and you can use them later when making curry. 


scarlet eggplant


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