We’ve all had it happen. We buy a big, beautiful eggplant with the best intentions for dinnertime. But the recipe that promised a moist, sweet meal, delivered a dinner that’s bitter and tough. Yuck! Or, a lovely aubergine appears in our Farm Box and we set it aside for just a few days … and when we take it out of the fridge, we find a sad, shriveled, dry mess.
The eggplant is not always the easiest fruit (it’s true, it is a fruit!) for home cooks to master, but we’re here to help–scroll on for sage advice and suggestions to make a super supper!
Picking and Packing
Like most people, you’re probably most familiar with the traditional purple plant, but there are literally as many types of eggplant as there are colors of the rainbow! They can range from tiny, white spheres to long, slender, and orange. Whichever variety you choose, when you are selecting your produce you should look for the following:
- The eggplant should be firm, not too large, and heavy for its weight–aim for being surprised by the heft when you lift it. Smaller eggplants are sweeter and have fewer seeds.
- Look for eggplants with bright, uniform color; smooth, shiny skin; and a bright green stem.
- To test for ripeness, press (gently!) on the skin of the eggplant with your thumb. The flesh should spring back readily, without leaving an indentation. If it doesn’t give you a sound rebound, pick another plant.
- Avoid any eggplants that have scars or bruises; these mean there is probably decay already underway inside.
- Eggplants spoil quickly, so use them as soon as possible. And don’t cut it until you are ready to use it! “Nuff said.
- It seems counterintuitive, but don’t keep your eggplant in the fridge. These fruits fare better when the temp is close to 50℉–a great place to store them is in a cool basement, fruit cellar, or a handy nearby cave. What, you don’t have a cave in your yard?
- When it comes to skin, most eggplants work with or without. If your eggplant is particularly large or has white skin, however, the skin may be tough, and you will need to remove it. You can use a regular veggie peeler to take the skin off before cooking.
- The best way to beat back bitter flavor is to “sweat” the eggplant. Cut it into rounds and coat each side with salt. Lay the slices in a colander or a stainless steel rack and allow it to sit for approximately 30 minutes. When time is up, give the slices a rinse and proceed to cooking.
- You can also roast eggplants whole! Just poke your plant a few times with a fork and bake at 350℉ for 20 minutes, or until a knife slides through the skin like butter.