Region of Origin

Commodity:

Eggplant

Origin

Eggplant is a semi-tropical/tropical plant in the nightshade family along with tomatoes and peppers. They are grown for their round or ovular fruits (ranging in size from that of a pea to that of a melon) that are used as a vegetable. Most commonly purple, some varieties can be white, green, striped – or even yellow or red. The spongy flesh is always white or off-white and characterized by a pleas...

Other Names

Aubergine (Europe), Brinjal (Hindi), Bengan (Urdu), Albadhinajan (Arabic), Qiézi (Chinese), Melanzana (Italian), Berenjena (Spanish), Melitzána (Greek), Nasu (Japanese), Gaji (Korean), Cà tím (Vietnamese)

Health Benefits & Nutrition

Eggplants are rich in fiber and vitamin B1 and contain a range of trace vitamins and minerals. Though, their real benefit comes from the wealth of powerful antioxidant compounds found in eggplant flesh and skin. Some of these compounds (known as anthocyanins) are also the reason for eggplant’s purple color and bitter taste.

Varieties

Baby Eggplant

AKA: Italian Eggplant

Example Cultivars

Megal, Vittoria

Description

Baby eggplants are small in size and very consistent in shape and quality, as they are usually produced in greenhouses. Their skin is glossy and lilac to deep purple in color. The eggplant’s flesh is ivory with very small, edible seeds that are hardly visible. Italian eggplants have a creamy taste with a juicy texture and little, if any, bitterness.

Variety Tips & Tricks

Baby eggplants are excellent for almost all purposes. Their thin skin and tender, minimally seedy flesh mean salting is not necessary. They can be used in almost any preparation – from quick cooking stir fries to whole roasting on the grill. Their tender texture is perfect for caponata or ratatouille, and their uniform size in a case makes them ideal for sliders or portioning on eggplant parm.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
SPAIN
Good
Good
Good
DR
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
HOLLAND
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Fair

Chinese Eggplant

Example Cultivars

Ping Tung Long, Purple Excel, Chun Hua, Purple Shine

Description

Chinese eggplant is long and slender with a thin, bright, violet-colored skin and a green calyx. The flesh is white, semi-firm, and virtually seedless. Because it has so few seeds, Chinese eggplant is less bitter than other varieties of eggplant. It has a meaty consistency that cooks quickly but maintains integrity after cooking – perfect for stir-frying. Its flavor is mild with a subtle sweetness.

Variety Tips & Tricks

This variety does not need to be peeled or salted before use. It is an exceptional eggplant for stir fries due to its silky but firm texture and speed of cooking

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
HONDURAS
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good

Fairy Tale Eggplant

AKA: Mini Graffiti Eggplant

Description

These slender, petite eggplants range in size from 2-4” long. Their skin is bright or faded violet with white stripes. They have firm flesh with few seeds and a distinct eggplant flavor.

Variety Tips & Tricks

These tiny eggplants are best served whole or halved to preserve their cute size for plating. They work well with almost any flavor profile, and their shape will hold during stir-frying or braising in rich Asian sauces.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
USA (Local)
Fair
Fair
Fair
HOLLAND
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair

Globe Eggplant

AKA: American Eggplant, Standard Eggplant

Example Cultivars

Classic, Black Bell, Night Shadow, Santana, Nadia, Campana Negra

Description

The most common of all eggplants, the globe is a large eggplant variety – it can be up to five pounds! It has a rounded, oblong shape and a green calyx. Its skin is glossy, smooth, and deep purple, almost black, with a creamy-white, spongy skin and edible seeds throughout that start out white and darken as the eggplant ages. The flavor of the globe eggplant is mild, but with a distinct bitter bite and a juicy, tender texture.

Variety Tips & Tricks

The skin of the globe eggplant is thicker and tougher than other varieties, and it can have an abundance of seeds. To reduce the bitterness of the skin and flesh, it should be salted and rinsed, or soaked in salt water and rinsed before cooking. Despite its thick skin and seediness, the globe is very versatile – although it is best used in applications that involve long, thorough cooking processes. It can be breaded, baked, grilled, fried, stuffed, smoked, roasted whole, and more.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
USA
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
MEXICO
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good

Graffiti Eggplant

AKA: Dominican Eggplant, Striped Italian Eggplant

Example Cultivars

Zebra, Nubia

Description

A petite variation of the globe eggplant, the graffiti eggplant is shaped like an oblong teardrop with skin that is smooth, shiny, and streaked with violet and white stripes. Its flesh is cream to pale white and contains an average amount of small, edible seeds. Graffiti eggplants are somewhat sweeter than a globe eggplant with a firm, but very creamy, flesh.

Variety Tips & Tricks

The graffiti eggplant absorbs less moisture during cooking than a globe, so it holds up well to baking, roasting, and steaming. Unfortunately, the stripes of the graffiti eggplant fade during the cooking process - but it does turn a pretty, faded violet color. It is recommended that the graffiti eggplant be salted and rinsed before use.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
SPAIN
Good
Good
Good
DR
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
HOLLAND
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Fair

Indian Eggplant

Description

One of the smallest varieties of eggplant, the Indian eggplant is about the size of an extra-large egg. It has delicate, reddish purple skin and cream-colored flesh with clusters of seeds. The Indian eggplant is mild tasting with hints of sweetness and a pleasant crunch from the seeds.

Variety Tips & Tricks

Indian eggplants have a distinct bitter taste and light crunch that is part of its appeal. They are not salted, and can be used simply halved or quartered (with the stem removed). They are most often simmered in soups, stews, or curries – or stuffed with a traditional Indian vegetable and spice filling, pan-seared, and served with a flavorful sauce.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
USA (NJ)
Good
Good
Fair
Fair
USA (FL)
Fair
Fair
Good
Good
Good
Good
Fair
Fair
Fair
Good
Good
Good
HOLLAND
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair

Japanese Eggplant

Example Cultivars

Millionaire, Shoya Long

Description

Japanese eggplant is long and slender with a deep purple, almost black, color and matte finish. Unlike the Chinese eggplant, Japanese eggplants have a dark, black calyx. They have a mild, almost nutty flavor with no bitterness and a very thin, delicate skin. The flesh is sponge-like and virtually seedless with a meaty, delicate texture. It is generally considered to be one of the most refined eggplant varieties.

Variety Tips & Tricks

Japanese eggplants have thin skin and very few seeds, so they do not need to be salted. They cook quickly, so they are best suited for stir-fries, pan-frying, steaming, or delicate braising. Note that Japanese eggplants thin skin also means they have a shorter shelf life than some other varieties.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
HOLLAND
Fair
Fair
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Good
Fair
USA (LOCAL)
Fair
Fair
Fair

Sicilian Eggplant

Example Cultivars

Palermo, Sabelle, Birgah, Barbarella

Description

Sicilian eggplant is large, round, and very plump with unique ridges. The skin can range from deep purple to violet with white blush towards the stem end. The flesh is white, seedy, and very juicy. Be cautious with these eggplants when handling at the stem end, as there can be some remaining thorns.

Variety Tips & Tricks

Sicilian eggplants have thin skin and very meaty, seedy flesh. They are best when salted prior to cooking. They are excellent in eggplant parmesan or other baked eggplant dishes, as well as traditional European dishes like caponata or ratatouille.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
USA (Local)
Fair
Fair
Fair
USA (FL)
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
DR
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair

Thai Eggplant

Example Cultivars

Kermit

Description

Thai eggplant is round and very small – about the size of a golf ball. It has green skin from the stem that fades to white in a unique stripy pattern. The flesh is bright white with small, brown seeds that are edible and have a pleasant light crunch. Their flavor is mild, vegetal, and slightly tart.

Variety Tips & Tricks

Thai eggplant does not require salting. In Southeast Asia they are also often used whole, halved, or quartered in soups, stews, and curries. They cook quickly and should not be overcooked so they retain some firmness in texture. They are also sometimes served raw as an accompaniment to rich, meat-based dips.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
HONDURAS
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
DR
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair

White Eggplant

Example Cultivars

Ghostbuster, Casper

Description

White eggplants are elongated and similar in shape to a small globe eggplant. They have a beautiful, smooth, matte ivory skin with a light green calyx. These eggplants have little, if any, bitterness and a fine sweet flavor that is said to be one of the best of any eggplant varieties.

Variety Tips & Tricks

White eggplants do not need to be salted, but can be salted if it is preferred. They are suitable for any use.

Commercial Availability (Grown for the US Market)

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
USA (Local)
Fair
Fair
Fair
DR
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
USA (FL)
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair
Fair

Foodservice Tips

Traditional Culinary Uses

Eggplants have been used in Indian and Chinese cuisines for thousands of years, and Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines for centuries. Most recipes call for eggplant to be cooked to mellow their bitter taste, although some varieties of eggplant, like Thai eggplant, are occasionally served raw. Most varieties also call for additional preparation steps of salting, soaking, and/or rinsing to further reduce their bitterness, although some thin, more mild varieties do not require this step.

 

Eggplant is prized for its silky texture and mildly sweet, vegetal, bitter flavor that is able to absorb the flavors it is cooked with. It is a mainstay in Indian curries, bhartas, and sauces where it is stewed with pungent spices until tender. In China, it is often stir-fried or stewed with flavorful garlic sauce or fish-fragrant sauce. In Japan and Korea it can be found simply steamed, braised with soy sauce and dashi, or fried as tempura. In Middle Eastern and North African cuisine, eggplants are often roasted or grilled and made into delicious salads or dips. In the Mediterranean, eggplant is often stewed, braised, breaded and fried, stuffed, or incorporated into iconic dishes like ratatouille.

Flavor Pairings

Tomato, Summer Squash, Potato, Kale, Red Onion, Chile Pepper, Baby Bok Choy, French Beans, Long Beans, Basil, Mint, Tarragon, Cilantro, Pomegranate, Ginger, Miso, Sesame Seeds, Coriander, Pine Nuts, Walnuts, Pasta, Pickles, Lebneh, Ricotta, Mozzarella, Olive Oil, Tofu, Pork, Beef, Lamb

How to Store & Use in the Kitchen

Ideally, eggplants should NOT be refrigerated. They should be stored in a cool, dark area. If no such area is available, they can be stored in the warmest area of the refrigerator in a lined container to provide some insulation.

 

Once cut, eggplants will oxidize quickly. Cut pieces can be stored in water, or water with some lemon juice added to prevent oxidation. Salting, if necessary, can occur before or after this step.

Fight Food Waste Tips for root to stem cooking

Eggplant skin is rich in powerful antioxidants – don’t peel it, use the skin in your recipes! As eggplant skin can get tough and bitter in larger varieties when they are picked over-mature, consider choosing smaller varieties.

Warehouse Storage & Handling

Maintain these conditions for optimal short-term storage shelf life.*

IDEAL TEMP STORAGE:

50-54°F

RECOMMENDED TEMP STORAGE ZONE:

40-54°F (Cool Storage)

SUBJECT TO CHILLING INJURY:

Yes – eggplants are very sensitive to temperatures below 50°F. Symptoms can include pitting, surface bronzing, and seed browning.

RELATIVE HUMIDITY:

90-95%

PRODUCES ETHYLENE:

No

SENSITIVE TO ETHYLENE:

Yes-High

ETHYLENE RECOMMENDATIONS:

Eggplants should be stored away from ethylene producing items. Exposure to ethylene can cause deterioration and browning.

Quality Assessment

Eggplants should be firm, smooth skinned with minimal scarring, and have vivid matte or shiny coloring, depending on variety. The calyx should be free from mold or decay. Some browning on the stem is normal.

Important Handling Notes

Eggplants are extremely sensitive to low temperature and moisture loss. It is important that eggplants be kept above the threshold for chilling injury, but cool and moist enough to prevent water loss. Plastic liners are often used to prevent moisture loss, but they can lead to increased decay if the proper temperature is not maintained. They can be easily bruised by rough handling or stacking, which can lead to early decay. Store away from onions and ginger to prevent flavor uptake.

Optimum Shelf Life

Depending on variety, conditions at harvest, and handling, eggplants may last up to 2 weeks.

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