How much do you know about Eggplants? We want to shake up your knowledge of the little-known plants a bit and tell you how they taste.
You may think the plant is reserved for vegans and healthy foods with the tag – “tasteless.” However, this is a misconception in most cases.
Even meat-eaters enjoy it regularly in many cuisines and savory dishes. As a result, the purple plant, which goes by other names like aubergine or brinjal, has fanatics worldwide.
It’s a fantastic vegetable with endless possibilities. This article shares everything you need to know about the eggplant and, more importantly, what it tastes like if you are interested.
What is Eggplant?
Most people consider eggplant a vegetable, but that’s not the case. Technically, it’s a seeded berry fruit found in the nightshade family Solanaceae.
Other plants in this family are potatoes, tomatoes, and okra. The leaves and flowers of the eggplant contain solanine that can be poisonous when taken in large quantities.
Worry not about the fleshy part, the fruit, and the seeds. They are 100% safe for consumption. Of course, you can eat it raw, but you will enjoy it more when cooked.
Eggplant is native to India and was also cultivated in Southern Asia. It’s currently spread in other parts of the world in North America, Central America, the Mediterranean, Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia.
The plant comes in many shapes and sizes, but the typical form is that of an egg which explains the naming. The cultivated types are about 30cm in diameter, while the wild ones measure 3cm.
Their typical color is purple, but they take many others like orange, lavender, pale green, reddish, and yellowish-white.
Eggplant varieties vary with location. The most known types in the US are the globe and Italian Eggplant.
They take the shape of a teardrop with glossy purple-blackish skin. On the other hand, we have the Japanese eggplant, also referred to as the Chinese eggplant.
It’s more elongated with a lavender to violet color. The variety has fewer seeds and doesn’t need peeling because of its thin skin.
We also got the striped graffiti eggplant in red or purple colors. It has a similar shape to the Chinese eggplant and a mild flavor to the purplish-black varieties.
We can’t exhaust this section without mentioning the heirloom varieties. These are the ones found in farmer’s markets. A few to mention are black beauty, fairytale, and rosita eggplant.
What Does Eggplant Taste Like?
Before we dive into what eggplant tastes like, you first want to have a rough idea on how to prepare it. It’s pretty simple.
Standard preparation methods involve slicing or chopping it. Some recipes will want you to peel off the outer skin, but this is not mandatory since most varieties have a thin layer of skin.
Some chefs prefer to grill it while others stew it whole. There are many recipes you could go for, depending on your preference.
Another option is adding salt to the eggplant’s flesh to draw some moisture. This process makes it softer and more absorbent for cooking.
How about fire-roasting it? All you need to do is broil the fruit plant until it has a charred exterior. Your next step would be to scoop out the softened flesh and mix it with another dish.
Other eggplant preparation methods include grilling, marinating, braising, baking, stir-fried, sauteing, and pickling.
What Does The Eggplant Taste Like In Reality?
The eggplant taste is more or less like that of a zucchini; bland and bitter. This taste is similar in all eggplant varieties. It’s tasteless and bitter when raw but takes the flavor of whatever you prepare it with. It has a spongy texture which makes it quickly absorb the oil and the flavor of other ingredients.
The plant is versatile, allowing you to tailor it to your preferred taste. The trick is to add bold-flavored ingredients to enhance its taste.
Male and Female Eggplants
There is a popular myth regarding the gender of eggplants. In reality, there are no female or male eggplants. What’s true is that there can be two types of eggplants on one plant. One type has a roundish shape, while the other has an oval shape.
The oval-shaped eggplants taste more bitter than the rounded ones since they contain more water and bitter seeds.
Some Ways To Add Flavor To The Eggplant When Cooking
Frying an eggplant gives it a sweet taste almost close to a roasted one. The flavor of the batter will also affect the overall taste.
If the bitter taste of the eggplant is what scares you, we got some easy-to-follow suggestions that can help you add flavor to the bitterness.
1. Keep The Salt-Shaker Close
Salt is an easy and proven method of adding flavor to the eggplant to eliminate bitterness. After slicing them down into cubes, sprinkle salt upon and coat the slices. Wait for 10 minutes, then cook them. This helps reduce the bitterness.
2. Brush With Oil
Given the spongy nature of the eggplant, it can absorb oil without a fuss. Brush one surface of the sliced eggplant with oil and place it in the pan.
Brush the other surface with oil before flipping it over. You will need to balance between brushing or soaking your eggplants with oil. When the eggplant soaks too much oil, they become soggy and greasy.
3. Soak The Eggplant In Milk
This method is said to be 100% effective. Slice the eggplant into cubes and soak them in milk for 30 minutes before cooking.
Remove the seeds before soaking them in milk since they remain bitter even after soaking.
4. Cook The Eggplant With Many Ingredients
Cooking the eggplant with other ingredients helps get rid of the bitter taste.
They taste better when crispy on the outside, with a fine texture inside. Give them enough time when cooking with other ingredients to allow them to brown.
5. Remove The Skin
The southeast Asian variety of the eggplant is more bitter when overripe. Peel the skin off before cooking it to get rid of bitterness.
However, you should note that some cooking methods like skillet frying don’t go well with skin peeling. This is because the skin helps in holding the flesh.
How To Buy And Pick The Best Eggplants From The Grocery Store?
Like any other edible fruit, you need to know how to choose eggplants to pick the best for your consumption. You will find most of them displayed in the supermarket’s refrigerated section.
Buying the best eggplant requires looking at the fruit’s color, size, feel shape, and quality. Try to press your finger against the skin of the fruit gently.
A ripe eggplant’s flesh will bounce back, while a soft flesh suggests that it is overripe.
Avoid eggplants with damaged or bruised skin. It’s an indicator of damaged flesh inside the skin. Pale color or discoloration is also a sign of poor quality.
You want to avoid picking eggplants with soft or brown spots. Instead, a good eggplant should feel heavy with glossy skin.
A fruit that is too light for its size means it could be rotting on the inside.
There are ways to store the eggplant to ensure its freshness and quality. However, we advise not keeping them for long since they get bitter with maturity.
The storage duration will also depend on the level of freshness at the time of purchase. For example, if you bought your eggplant from the supermarket, you could refrigerate it for four days.
You could extend the storage duration to 7 days if you picked them from the garden or a grocery store. However, we still insist on consuming them as soon as possible for the best experience.
Your eggplant can still survive under ambient room temperature for a couple of days since it thrives in temperate climates.
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Eggplant?
The eggplant is highly nutritious. It contains antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Let’s look at the benefits of eating eggplant in detail.
1. Essential Nutrients For General Body Health
Some of the minerals in the eggplant include Phosphorus, Magnesium, Calcium, Copper, Manganese, and Potassium. It also contains vitamins, including vitamin K, vitamin C, niacin, and vitamin B6.
All these add up to give you robust body health. In addition, eggplant also works on your bone health, helping patients with osteoporosis thanks to minerals like Calcium, Potassium, and Magnesium.
Eggplants are also of the essence in maintaining your heart health. The fibers they contain help reduce the cholesterol your heart absorbs. Their skin also contains antioxidants that contribute to a well-functioning heart.
Essential nutrients such as iron and copper help combat anemia.
2. Supports Weight Loss
The eggplant helps in weight reduction. They are low-calorie fruits with lots of water, helping you cut down on your calorie intake.
3. Improves Your Digestion
The other essential function of fibers in the eggplant is to improve digestion. Thus, they help maintain the gastrointestinal health of your body.
4. Supports Healthy Pregnancy
Eggplants are highly rich in folic acid. The nutrient is essential for the healthy development of the baby.
And that is it with the eggplants. They are bland and bitter-tasting but worth having in your diet.
Though they may require some extra cooking effort on your part, they are packed with nutrients that will boost your health.
So why not drop them in your grocery basket next time you go shopping and let us know your experience.
Job Kiniale is a certified crop scientist and gardening enthusiast with a passion to help beginning gardeners navigate their newfound hobby. Let’s talk about plants, backyard ideas, and general gardening advice. Outside work, Job loves spending time with family.