These garden jewels are lovely...and a bit challenging!
Late summer and fall
Eggplants in-season are less likely to be bitter than storage eggplants (large purple-black). In terms of color, white eggplants are the mildest, followed by the striped varieties, then the dark purple globes, and finally the red-orange ones that are quite bitter and are meant for pickling.
Eggplants do not like to be cold. Refrigerator temperatures are too low. Yet leaving them on the countertop at room temperature causes them to dry out. Best to store in a cool spot, not the refrigerator, and use within a day or two.
No need to peel eggplants unless the skin is thick and tough which is more likely in eggplants from cold storage. Cut eggplant will begin to turn brown quickly. No need to prevent this. The color will even out when it’s cooked.
If eggplant has unwanted bitterness, try this salting technique. Sprinkle eggplant slices or cubes lightly with salt. Place it in a colander and let stand for at least 30 minutes. The longer you let it sit with the salt on it, the more meaty the texture becomes. Give it a quick rinse and pat dry before using it in your recipe.
When using eggplant in a fried dish, reduce its spongy texture and oil-absorbing capacity by precooking it — microwaving works well — or by salting it for one hour.
Egg-shaped European varieties have a rich, meaty flavor and substantial texture, while elongated Asian varieties are mild and creamy when cooked. Bitter taste is prominent in eggplants that have been in cold storage, usually the dark purple globe-shaped varieties. Red-orange varieties are grown for their bitterness and they are typically used for pickling.
Unpeeled eggplants are high in antioxidants. Good source of fiber.