Eggplant is an excellent source of digestion-supportive dietary fiber and bone-building manganese. It contains bone-building vitamin K and magnesium, as well as heart-healthy potassium, copper, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and niacin. The eggplant is a member of the nightshade family, and it is known worldwide as aubergine, eggplant, brinjal, melanzana, garden egg, and patlican. It is available year-round, with the peak season during the months of August and September.
At one time, women in the Orient used a black dye made from eggplant to stain their teeth a gun metal gray. The dye probably came from the same dark purple eggplant we see in the marketplace today.
Shopping and Storage Tips:
- Smaller, immature eggplants are best. Full-size puffy ones may have hard seeds and can be bitter. Choose a firm, shiny, smooth-skinned eggplant that is heavy for its size; avoid those with soft or brown spots. Look for consistent deep purple color and a green stem. Gently push with your thumb or forefinger. If the flesh gives slightly but then bounces back, it is ripe. If the indentation remains, it is overripe and the insides will be mushy. If there is no give, the eggplant was picked too early. Also make sure an eggplant isn’t dry inside, knock on it with your knuckles. If you hear a hollow sound, don’t buy it.
- Eggplants are very perishable and become bitter with age. They should be stored in a cool, dry place and used within a day or two of purchase. To store in the refrigerator, place in a plastic bag. If you plan to cook it the same day you buy it, leave it out at room temperature.