Eggplant is actually a fruit! Also called aubergines, they grow on a bush. The most common eggplant is tear drop-shaped with glossy, smooth, dark purplish satin-like skin, and a white to creamy-white spongy flesh with many small edible seeds inside. The stem and the starlike leafy calyx are covered in short spines and are attached at the narrowest end. Varieties can be long and thin, round or egg shaped, with colors ranging from white to white with red stripes to deep purplish black.
BEST STORAGE PRACTICES:
Eggplant like to be in a cool dry place between 45° and 50°. Store it uncut in a bag in the body of the fridge for up to a week.
FUN WAYS TO EAT AND COOK:
Bake whole, halve and stuff, or chop up then steam, grill or barbecue. Serve as a vegetable, in salads, as a dip, in casseroles or sauces. Wash and cut off stem end. Older eggplants need to be sprinkled with salt and left for 30 minutes to extract bitter juices. Pat dry with paper towel before cooking. Young plants need no salting and are great cooked whole.
Select eggplants with smooth, firm, satin-like, glossy, skin. It should feel heavy for its size. Avoid any with brown or soft spots and dull skin.
WHY IT’S GOOD TO EAT
- Good source of dietary fiber
- Good source of vitamin B6, which is important for your blood, brain and lots of tissues
- The purple skin contains antioxidants that provide some health benefits.
WHEN IT’S IN SEASON:
This Chinese and Indian native grows best in North Carolina between July and October.
HOW IT’S HARVESTED:
When the eggplant is large enough and colored all over, it is ready to be cut from the bush. They should be handled carefully since their skins bruise easily.
Stuffed Eggplants—Slice and salt eggplant. Let sit for 15-30 minutes so salt brings out bitter juices (older eggplants require more time). Make sure eggplants are dry. Scoop insides of eggplants and set aside. Briefly pan-fry tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, celery. Toss insides of eggplant in pan with mix. Stuff eggplants with mixture, drizzle with oil, basil, and rosemary. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.