When choosing eggplant, look for smooth, shiny skins with fresh-looking stems and no blemishes. The fruit itself should feel weighty in your hand and be sure to press on the skin, it should be firm.
Chinese eggplant is long and slender and has thinner skins with purplish-black skin. It has a more delicate flavor, tender and sweet with almost no bitterness. It’s commonly used in Asian soups, salads, and stir-fries.
Substitutes: Japanese eggplant (This is similar, but it tends to be a bit more bitter than the Chinese eggplant.) OR small Italian eggplant.
One of the common staple varieties used in the culinary world, large pear-shaped, dark-purple Globe eggplant. It has a papery skin and bland, watery flesh that absorbs oil like a sponge. Perhaps because of its bland watery flesh and lack of flavor, so many people dislike eggplant, but it makes up for in size. This particular variety served well in the “Parmesan Eggplant” recipe, or use them in sandwiches.
Substitutes: Italian eggplant (this is smaller but similar) OR Japanese eggplant.
Eggplant, Green, Baby Thai
One of the eggplant varieties that doesn’t look like the others. These golf-ball sized green eggplants are more bitter than American eggplants. They are crisp with snappy skin, filled with seed and pudding-like flesh. They come in different colors, but usually green mixed with a combination of yellow and white color. They’re often used in some of the incredibly flavorful curry dishes. Remember to remove the bitter seeds before using.
Substitutes: pea eggplants (smaller, more bitter)
One of the common varieties that mostly used in the Mediterranean recipes, although they naturally are a perfect fit for Italian and American cuisine. Italian eggplants are smaller than Globe eggplants, but they’re otherwise very similar. Its flesh is much sweeter and more flavorful, covered by tender skin.
Substitutes: American eggplant (preferably smaller ones)
Japanese eggplants are long and thin skin, with a dark-purple color and glossy appearance. Once cooked, they get very soft and creamy with a sweet delicate flavor – melt-in-your-mouth texture. Best used for sauteing, stir-fried, or pickled, and it is not recommended for eggplant parmesan.
Substitutes: Chinese eggplant (This is similar, but it’s quite as bitter as the Japanese eggplant.) OR small Italian eggplant
Eggplant, Purple, Baby Indian
Indian eggplants are short and stubby little looking balls. It doesn’t have any significant differences compared to the Western varieties in terms of taste and texture. It is commonly used in South Asian style curries, stews, and/or stuffed full of nuts and spices.
Substitutes: Japanese eggplants
A.K.A Purple Rain, Shooting Stars, Pandora Striped Rose, and Fairytale. Graffiti eggplant reflect on its name, distinctive striped markings. They have small seeds and a thin skin, making them great to eat whole – without the extra peeling work necessary. It’s great for baking, roasting, and stewing.
Substitutes: Japanese eggplants
For information about seasonality and availability, please inquire with your VegiWorks’ Sales Representative for more details.