Selecting, Storing, and Serving Ohio Eggplant

HYG-5517
Family and Consumer Sciences
Date: 
07/26/2021
Revised 2021: Christine Kendle, Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension
Original reviewer: Lydia Medeiros, PhD, RD, Specialist, Ohio State University Extension
Original author: Barbara A. Brahm, Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

Eggplant is native to South and Eastern Asia and is one of the most exotic of all vegetables in appearance, taste, and history. Until 100 years ago, it was grown in America primarily as an ornamental plant. Now eggplant is available nearly all year, peaking in Ohio from June to October.

For information on eggplant varieties in Ohio, contact your county educator in agriculture and natural resources at Ohio State University Extension, or a master gardener volunteerDark purple eggplants in a wicker basket.

Selection

  • Look for heavy, firm, smooth-skinned eggplant. The most common varieties are deep purple. There are also white and white/purple streaked varieties. 
  • Deep purple eggplants are typically tear-drop shaped. For the best quality, choose one that is of medium size (3 to 4 inches in diameter).
  • Other varieties of eggplant may range from egg-shaped to long and slender.
  • Avoid those with brown or blue streaks, a light color, or yellowish cast, which indicates poor quality.
  • Shriveled and flabby eggplant is often bitter and poor in flavor.
  • Decay may appear in any dark sunken area on the surface. Cracked skin across brown spots may indicate a storage-related disease that causes eggplant to spoil rapidly.

Yield

Due to many variables such as moisture content, size, and variety, it is difficult to give specific recommendations. The recommendations below are approximations.

  • 1 medium eggplant = about 1½ pounds
  • 1 pound fresh = 1¾ cups, cooked and cubed
  • 1 pound fresh = 1 pint frozen
  • 1 bushel = 33 pounds

Nutrition

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 2½ cups of a variety of vegetables each day as part of a healthy diet. Eggplant is a good choice to help meet this nutritional requirement

  • An eggplant’s deep purple skin contains the antioxidant anthocyanin.
  • All eggplant varieties are a good source of fiber and are low in carbohydrates and sodium.
  • One cup of raw eggplant has 20 calories.

Storage

  • Store eggplant as soon as possible in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator at 45–50 degrees Fahrenheit. Your refrigerator should be kept at 40 F or below for optimal food safety.
  • Eggplant stored in the refrigerator may be susceptible “chilling injuries” that will appear as soft, spongy, “water-soaked” spots..  
  • High humidity is preferred for eggplant storage.
  • If eggplant is not stored in the vegetable crisper, store it in the refrigerator wrapped loosely in plastic wrap. Use within one week of purchase. Dark purple eggplant with garlic clove, lemons cut and squeezed, container of oil, and spices for cooking.

Serving

  • Wash eggplant in cold water thoroughly prior to serving to remove dirt. Do not use soap, detergent, or bleach because these liquids absorb into the vegetable.
  • Eggplant is a versatile vegetable and can be roasted, broiled, boiled, fried, sautéed, stuffed, or used in a variety of casseroles in combination with other vegetables.
  • Although often used as a meat substitute in recipes, eggplant is not high in protein value.
  • When preparing eggplant slices for cooking,  remove as much excess moisture as possible to prevent a soggy or bitter product. Arrange cut eggplant on a rack, paper towels, or clean kitchen towels. Sprinkle salt liberally on cut surfaces. Allow salt to draw moisture from the eggplant for about one hour. Remove excess salt by patting eggplant dry before cooking. For crispier cooked eggplant, lightly press eggplant slices before cooking to squeeze out water and remove air trapped inside the vegetable.
  • For pan fried eggplant, cut the vegetable into ½ to 1-inch slices. Peel if necessary. Dip in flour or fine, dry breadcrumbs, then in an egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of milk. Dip in flour or crumbs again, then season with salt and pepper. Fry slowly in a small amount of hot oil until browned and fairly transparent on one side and then turn and brown the other side. Serve hot.
  • To season, use marjoram, oregano, allspice, chili powder, curry powder, garlic, or rosemary.
  • Eggplant slices can be grilled and used as a substitute for pizza crust.
  • Cubed eggplant can be roasted along with root vegetables for a hearty dish.
  • Baba Ganoush is an eggplant dip that is similar to hummus (see recipe below).

Baba Ganoush (Eggplant Dip)

Yield: 4 servings
Time: Approximately 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil

Cooking Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F
  2. Wash eggplant and pat dry. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise.
  3. Score the inside of the eggplant flesh.
  4. Spray the eggplant flesh and baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  5. Place the eggplant flesh-side down on a baking sheet and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Once cooled, take a large spoon and scoop the flesh into a food processor or blender. Discard the skins.
  7. Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor, cover, and then puree until smooth—about 1–2 minutes.
  8. Put into a bowl and chill until ready to serve. Serve with whole wheat pita bread or cut up vegetables.

For information on preserving eggplant, go to ohioline.osu.edu or contact your local Ohio State University Extension office for the following fact sheets:

References

National Center for Home Food Preservation. n.d. University of Georgia, College of Family and Consumer Sciences (website). Accessed June 28, 2021. nchfp.uga.edu.

University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. Baba Ganoush (Eggplant Dip).  Durham: University of New Hampshire. 2016. PDF. extension.unh.edu/resources/files/Resource006140_Rep8770.pdf.