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.
Eggplants are available all year round. The peak season is November to March.
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.
Eggplant is high in fibre, folate, potassium, manganese, vitamins C and K, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, magnesium, phosphorous and copper.