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Versatile and richly-coloured eggplant is picked when it’s ripe and ready to eat! Learn about this delicious veggie and how to savour it at its best!

Getting to know eggplant

Although eggplant is often thought of as a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern vegetable, it has been cultivated in India for at least 4,000 years. In China, it has had a role in cooking for over 2,500 years, while Arab traders brought it to Europe and Africa. Credit for introducing it to North America goes to Thomas Jefferson who imported seeds for his garden some 200 years ago.

There are several types of eggplant and all require a warm climate. The best-known variety in North America and Europe is the purple eggplant. It’s elongated in shape and resembles a large pear. Other types of eggplant like the white, round, elongated and harlequin (streaked) are categorized as oriental eggplants. They have white spongy flesh and contain seeds, with some varieties having more than others.

Eggplant is available from August to October.

Choosing, Storing and Preparing Eggplant

Creamy eggplant is harvested ripe and best eaten soon after purchase. Look for a plump, heavy unwrinkled vegetable that feels quite firm to the touch. If a small impression remains after having been touched, the eggplant is ripe.

  • Smaller eggplants have the most delicate flavour and are less bitter. Eggplant flesh darkens quickly once exposed to air and should be cooked immediately or sprinkled with lemon juice until ready to use.
  • Handle these veggies gently to avoid bruising and cut just before use to prevent discoloration. (Use a stainless steel knife; carbon knives can cause a bitter aftertaste).
  • Eggplants can be refrigerated in the vegetable crisper for up to one week if stored in a perforated plastic bag.
  • Some cooks recommend lightly salting cut up eggplant and letting it stand for 15 minutes before rinsing, drying and cooking to reduce characteristic bitterness.
  • As eggplant easily soaks up fat, go easy on the oil when cooking.

How to Cook Eggplant

  • Eggplant is adaptable and adds a pleasant taste and fragrance to many dishes. It can be eaten peeled or unpeeled, whole, cubed, quartered or sliced. Larger eggplants are best peeled to remove bitterness.
  • Eggplant is very versatile. It can be served with a cheese sauce, stuffed, cooked in oil, reduced and puréed, fried, roasted with salt and garlic, steamed with a little butter and a slice of lemon, and even cubed and skewered to cook on the barbecue.
  • To roast eggplant pierce the skin repeatedly with a fork and cook in a 200° C (440° F) oven for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • To cook eggplant oriental-style, stir-fry slices with onions, ginger, garlic and soy sauce. Add meat or chicken and serve with rice.
  • Slices of eggplant can be brushed with olive oil and grilled. Sprinkle lightly with celery salt and turn when golden.
  • This delicious vegetable is one of the main ingredients in ratatouille. It pairs well with zucchini, tomato and sweet peppers, and makes excellent moussaka, eggplant parmigiana, and baba gannouj.

Eggplant on the Grill

Put eggplant on the grill and you can quickly have a fantastic snack, entrée or side dish!

To start: Grilled Tomato, Eggplant and Mozzarella Stackups

A classic combination of eggplant, fresh tomatoes, and basil, stacked with soft bocconcini.

See full recipe

On the side: Grilled Eggplant Salad

Flavours such as garlic, mint, dill and lemon enrich this lovely dish, which can be made ahead

See full recipe

Eggplant Recipes You’ll Love!

Never been a big fan of eggplant? Try these fantastic, creative dishes and you’ll learn to love this purple treasure!

Eggplant Omelette

Try eggplant for breakfast! Our Eggplant Omelette pairs this mighty veggie up with tomatoes, cream and fresh herbs. It makes a perfect weekday dinner too.

See full recipe

Fun Facts

Eggplant has been cultivated in India for at least 4,000 years, although it is often thought of as a Mediterranean or mid-Eastern vegetable. Eggplant is harvested ripe and best eaten soon after purchase.