Care & Storage
For Eating Fresh: Store eggplants in a cool place outside of the fridge, but don't wait too long to eat them. If you must, you can put them in the fridge for a week or so, but they wont be as tender when you cook them.
To Freeze: Wash the eggplants, remove any blemishes, and cut into pieces. Blanch for 5 minutes in boiling water (to preserve color, dissolve 4 teaspoons of salt per gallon of boiling water). Cool immediately. (Tip: If you lay the pieces on a tray in the freezer before putting them in a container, then the pieces will freeze individually instead of in a large clump and can be used at different times instead of all at once.)
July - September
Black Beauty, Rosa Bianca, White
The Italian eggplants are the most widely used in traditional American, European, and Middle-Eastern cooking. Use these for baking, roasting, grilling, eggplant parmesan, and baba ganoush. These eggplants may have a characteristic bitterness, which can be drawn out by salting cut pieces and allowing them to drain in a colander for about half-an hour. Pat dry with a towel before proceeding after salting, and be aware that your recipe may not require more salt then you’ve already added through this process. Rosa Bianca is an especially stricking variety, with gorgeous pink coloration and an unusual shape that results in scalloped rounds if sliced horizontally. We find that Rosa Bianca also has a particularly creamy consistency and sweetness to the flavor.
Light Purple, Dark Purple, Kyoto Egg
The Japanese eggplant varieties are more tender and less bitter than their Italian counterparts; there’s no need to salt or peal these. They cook more quickly as well, so choose these for stir-fries and sautés. Slice the longer banana-shaped varieties just once or twice lengthwise before grilling or broiling.
Thai eggplants have a very firm flesh that is especially well suited to soaking up the sauces and broths of Thai and Indian cooking without disintegrating. Perfect for curries.
Fairy Tale, Calliope
Sweet, tender, flavorful, and creamy, Fairy Tale are the best eggplants we’ve ever tasted. They cook quickly, and don’t need to be salted or pealed. Throw them whole or sliced once into stir-fries, sautés, or skewered on the grill. The baby eggplants are also the best for pickling.
Lebanese Pickled Eggplant Stuffed With Garlic
Adapted from The Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich
Makes 1 quart
1¼ lb 3- to 4-inch-long eggplants
1 garlic head, cloves separated, peeled, and crushed
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp pickling salt
½ tsp cayenne
1 cup plus 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, plus more if needed
1 cup plus 2 tbsp water
Steam the eggplants for 5 to 8 minutes, or until they are tender but not mushy. Let them cool. Mix the garlic with 1 tbsp salt and the cayenne. Using the tip of a knife, slit each eggplant once lengthwise, cutting most of the way through. Stuff the eggplants with the garlic mixture. Pack the eggplants into a quart jar.
Combine the vinegar, water, and remaining 1 tsp salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt. Let cool. Pour the liquid over the eggplants, and top the jar off with a little more vinegar, if necessary. Refrigerate for 1-2 weeks before eating. The pickles will keep, refrigerated, for a couple months.
Greek Eggplant Dip
From Vefa’s Kitchen
2 lbs eggplant
¼ tsp salt, plus extra for sprinkling
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup olive oil, plus extra for sprinkling
4 tbsp red wine vinegar (more or less)
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 mild green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
Preheat the broiler or light the barbecue. Broil or grill the eggplants whole, turning frequently, until the skins are charred and the flesh is softened. (Cooking over charcoal gives the salad a pleasant smoky flavor.) Remove from the heat and hold each eggplant briefly under cold running water until cool enough to handle, then peel immediately. Do not allow the unpeeled eggplants to cool completely or the flesh will turn black. When peeled, put them into a strainer and let cool completely. Chop the eggplant flesh and transfer to a bowl. Add the salt and garlic. Beating constantly with an electric mixer on medium speed, gradually add the oil, a few drops at a time, then in a slow steady thin stream until all of it has been absorbed. Continue beating and gradually add vinegar to taste, a little at a time. Transfer to a serving dish, cover, and chill in the refrigerator. Garnish with parsley, chopped bell pepper, and tomato. Sprinkle with a little salt and olive oil and serve with crackers or crudités.