Eggplants

Types of Eggplants

Types

Eggplants are actually a fruit but are used as a vegetable. The most common type of eggplant in Australia is the oval deep purple variety which is available in hydroponically and field grown varieties. Hydroponically grown eggplant is generally smoother, shinier and firmer but some people say it has less flavour than the field grown varieties. Small slender eggplants are called Lebanese or baby eggplants. The small pea shape eggplants which can be light green to creamy coloured are used in Thai and Indonesian cooking they have lots of seeds and a bitter taste.

Selection and storage

Look for an eggplant that is heavy for its size with a glossy skin and no soft spots, cuts or bruises. Store in the crisper section of the refrigerator.

Availability

Eggplants are available all year round. The peak season is November to March.

Using

Eggplants can be roasted, stuffed and baked, braised, grilled or fried. Eggplants can be salted before use. Contrary to popular belief salting eggplants does not reduce bitterness but does help keep the texture and reduce the eggplant’s absorption of oil during cooking. To salt eggplant sprinkle sliced or cubed eggplant with salt and sit on a rack or colander for 30 minutes to one 1 hour. Then rinse and pat dry. Once cut eggplant will discolour quickly (if you’re not salting it, sprinkle it with lemon juice to minimize discoloration). Eggplants are good with garlic, onions, tomatoes, cumin, coriander, parsley, mint, basil, oregano, yoghurt, cheese, pine nuts, capers, anchovies, eggs and lamb.

Nutrition Information

Eggplant is high in fibre, folate, potassium, manganese, vitamins C and K, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorous and copper.

Black (Regular) Eggplant

This refers to the large pear shaped eggplants (approximately 20cm in length) that are deep purple/black in colour. Regular eggplant can be hydroponically or field grown. Hydroponic eggplants generally have glossier skin with plump unmarked flesh, though some people prefer field grown eggplants as they think they have more flavour. Regular eggplant is a versatile all purpose eggplant.

Availability

All year round.

Baby Eggplant

Baby eggplants are also called Continental or Lebanese eggplants. They are a slender elongated cucumber with dark purple skin but can also be light green and white. Baby eggplants have spongy absorbent flesh that absorbs flavours well. They can be added to braises, fried, roasted whole or in pieces, fried or grilled.

Availability

All year round.

Purple Eggplant

A lighter purple eggplant that is similar in size and shape to regular eggplant  Preferred by some because of their lower acidity, often not distinguished from regular eggplant when sold.

Availability

Available all year round with more supply in the Spring and Summer months.

Thai Eggplant

Refers to a number of types of eggplants used in Thai and Lao cuisine which are similar in size and shape to a golf ball and vary in colour from green to white and purple. They have a bitter flavour and absorbent texture which works well in curries .

Availability

All year round at speciality Asian grocers.

Pea Eggplant

These are small bitter pea shaped berries of the nightshade plant. They are sold in clusters and used in Thai curries as well as eaten raw.

Availability

All year round from speciality Asian grocers.