Eggplant is also known as aubergine.
It is very common in southern European countries and is used in many traditional recipes; Greek - moussaka, French - ratatouille, Indian – baingan bharta, and Turkish - imam bayildi. It is actually a fruit, and contains many fine seeds. It has a mild taste and is typically cooked with stronger flavours such as garlic, tomatoes, onions, herbs and spices.
Several varieties of eggplant are available in New Zealand. Skin colours range from deep purple, almost black, light purple with creamy streaks to an all white. Sometimes a green-yellow ‘banana’ eggplant and Thai green eggplants no larger than marbles are available. Shapes vary from the commonly found pear-shaped to long and thin cylindrical shapes. Growing conditions can affect the colouring; for instance, a white eggplant may be all white if grown indoors but would have purple streaks if grown outdoors. The deep purple pear-shaped eggplant is the most common variety. White eggplant, which is about the size of a small mandarin can be eaten raw. It may be served with Thai meals and tastes similar to beans. The long thin purple Japanese eggplant, also tastes similar to a bean and is often stir fried with oyster sauce.
What to look for
Choose glossy, blemish free skinned fruit that is firm to the touch and shows no signs of withering. Decay appears as dark brown spots on the surface and should be avoided as these will deteriorate rapidly. Eggplants should be heavy in relation to size. When cut it should be creamy white with no brown seed cavity showing as this is bitter.
Purple varieties are available all year; other varieties have a more limited supply.
Refrigerate in the crisper.
How to prepare
Eggplants are normally used unpeeled. Cut stem off and cut to requirements [strips, slices, halves]. Stuffing; halve, cut around inside edges, score centre flesh, blanch, microwave or roast to soften and remove central flesh. To compact flesh and reduce amount of oil absorption if frying; sprinkle with salt and leave for 30 minutes, wash, drain and squeeze dry. This procedure will also drain out any bitterness, but as only very ripe eggplants tend to be bitter, this is not usually necessary. Recently developed varieties are not bitter and some eggplants, particularly the smaller ones, are so tender they can be eaten raw.
Ways to eat
Eggplants can be fried, baked, grilled or steamed – whole, sliced or cubed. Cut into chunks and barbecue on kebabs.
Steam, microwave, roast, grill, bake, shallow fry, braise, stew, stuff.
|Serving size: ½ cup - 86.7g|
|Fat, total (g)||0.2||0.3%||0.2|
|- saturated (g)||trace||0%||trace|
|- sugars (g)||2.8||3%||3.2|
|Dietary fibre (g)||2.2||7%||2.5||Contains dietary fibre|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0.06||4% RDI*||0.07|
|Vitamin C (mg)||0.7||2% RDI*||0.8|
Percentage Daily Intakes are based on an average adult diet of 8700 kJ
Source: The Concise New Zealand Food Composition Tables, 10th Edition, Plant & Food Research - 2014
Eggplant contains dietary fibre. It also contains phytonutrients, particularly the phenolic compounds such as anthocyanins and phenolic acids.
Eggplants bruise easily so handle carefully. Display only one layer deep in refrigerated shelving. Customers may not know how to use eggplants, so use the QR code on labels.
Store at 10-12ºC with 90-98% relative humidity. Lower temperatures will cause chilling damage. Eggplants are ethylene sensitive so store separately from ethylene producing fruits and vegetables.
Purchase eggplants with the New Zealand GAP logo.
For these images and many more please visit our image library.