What Does Eggplant Taste Like?

Long and purple with a trademark green stem, eggplants are one of the most common vegetables you can find in any supermarket, be it in the United States or Europe. 

Even though you might not enjoy their rubbery texture, eggplants are versatile because they can be used to balance out strong flavors, or you can use different herbs and spices to give them a strong flavor. 

If I had to describe the flavor of eggplants, I would it’s quite tasteless. However, eggplants can absorb the flavors of other ingredients in a dish, making them quite versatile. 

What Is Eggplant?

Eggplant, aubergine, or brinjal, is a plant species in the nightshade family Solanaceae that is grown worldwide for its edible fruit.

The most common is the spongy, dark-purple eggplant, also known as the American eggplant, which is what you will typically find in a supermarket.

eggplants

They’re darker, wider, have a tougher, meatier texture than other varieties.

Despite being the most common, American eggplants are not the only types of eggplants. There are several varieties, including Indian, Chinese, and Fairy Tail eggplants. 

Eggplants are technically fruits, but they’re cooked as vegetables. For example, I quite enjoy cutting them into strips and baking them, or stuffing them with other vegetables and then baking them. 

It’s a high-fiber, low-calorie food that is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and comes with many potential health benefits. These include reducing the risk of heart disease to helping with blood sugar control and weight loss, which is what a diet rich in vegetables supposedly does at the end of the day. 

What Does Eggplant Taste Like?

There are different varieties of eggplants and they do taste slightly different from each other, but the overall flavor profile is pretty much the same. 

If you wish to know what an eggplant tastes like — imagine a tasteless, bitter, and mild fruit. Like a zucchini, eggplants do not have an overwhelming flavor, hence why they’re a great addition to dishes with very bold flavors because they balance everything out. 

However, eggplants are also fruits/vegetables that can easily absorb flavor, so depending on the spices and herbs you use, they can also acquire a very bold flavor, particularly if you allow them to marinate. 

For instance, I either bake or roast eggplants, and they become very tender, and if you add a bit of salt, they become super delicious. There’s no arguing that eggplants can be a star ingredient in many dishes as they’re quite versatile. 

How To Pick Eggplant

Unfortunately, it’s not safe to just pick any produce. Everything from the smell, the weight, color, feel, and texture will give you a better sense of which produce to pick and take home. 

I personally don’t think it’s a good idea to pick large eggplants, as that usually means they’re too ripe and might contain too many seeds. More seeds often mean the eggplant will have a more bitter taste. However, if you’re intending to choose a larger eggplant, bring along one that’s heavier. If it’s too light for its size, it might mean it’s starting to rot on the inside. 

The color is also an important aspect— choose one that looks very glossy on the outside and is without bruises. It is also important to have a feel for the eggplants and check for softness— if you do notice some softness, it’s often a sign that it’s not good enough to eat and it might need some more time. 

On an interesting note, it’s always better to pick (what people refer to as) “male” eggplants, which are essentially eggplants with a roundish dimpled area at the bottom end. These tend to contain fewer seeds and are meatier than eggplants with an oval dimple. 

round vs oval

So, to summarize, it’s probably a good idea to pick an eggplant that is small, glossy, tough, with a round dimple at the bottom end. 

How To Store Eggplant

Like most vegetables, you would think the best place to store eggplants is in the fridge, however, that is not the case if you want it to last longer.

While an eggplant does appreciate cool temperatures, it does not thrive in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so they’re better off being stored in a dark, cool place at room temperature. 

Personally, I try to store eggplants in a cupboard that isn’t above or next to the oven, as it’ll protect them from higher temperatures. 

How Long Does An Eggplant Last?

Like most fruit and vegetables, eggplants do not last that long, and you need to be able to store them properly if you want them to last more than usual. 

Unlike what most people suggest, eggplants are actually better at room temperature, in a cool, dark place. Some people might suggest storing your eggplants in the fridge, but eggplants don’t thrive in temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so room temperature is ideal.

Generally, eggplants can last between 3-5 days at room temperature, so you have to eat them in that period if you want to avoid any bitterness and take advantage of their full nutrient profile. 

What If Your Eggplant Is Bitter?

If your eggplant tastes bitter, it is likely because it has been stored on a supermarket shelf or in your fridge for too long. It may be that as the flesh starts to deteriorate, phenolic compounds are released and take on a stronger flavor, or there may be other explanations for it – but the bitterness is usually associated with aging.

The bitterness indicates that the flesh is starting to break down, which means it won’t contain as many nutrients or offer as many health benefits as a fresh eggplant. It will also not be as flavorsome, of course.

If you find that your eggplant is a little bitter, there are a couple of things that you can try before you toss it in the garbage. Firstly, try salting the eggplant, and secondly, try removing the seeds.

Salting The Eggplant

Salting it is probably the best way to remove the eggplant’s bitterness. To do it, wash and slice open the eggplant. Cut it into strips or cubes, depending on what you want for your meal.

Next, lay these pieces out on a board or plate, and sprinkle a thin, even coat of salt across the exposed flesh. Leave the salt on the eggplant for half an hour at least, and then use paper towels to wipe off the salt and resulting liquid.

You can rinse the eggplant slices too, as this will wash off the salt and the liquid. The eggplant should then be ready to cook, and the bitterness should have been significantly reduced.

This is because the salt draws moisture out of the fruit, and this removes some of the compounds responsible for the bitter flavor. With that being said, don’t overdo it.

Removing The Seeds

Although any part of the eggplant can be bitter, the seeds can often be the problem, and if you don’t have time to leave salt on the eggplant, getting rid of these may help.

If you want to remove the seeds, get a sharp knife and cut the seeds out of the eggplant, and discard them. Cut up the remaining flesh and use it as normal, and it will hopefully have a better flavor than if you had left the seeds intact.

There are other ways to remove the seeds, for example, using a spoon:

Conclusion

Eggplants are a pretty versatile ingredient because they have a rather bland flavor profile, however, they easily absorb other flavors which makes them an interesting addition to various dishes. 

Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than five years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!

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