Most of us think of eggplant as a large, dark purple, and oblong shaped vegetable that’s always available. It’s the perfect vegetable to be used for grilling, roasting, or baking with its slightly bitter taste that turns sweeter as it cooks. Well, it turns that there are a good amount of eggplant varieties other than the basic purple eggplant.
When you go to the grocery store or farmer’s market, you might find interesting eggplant fruits in different sizes and colors that can be used in a number of ways. Even though eggplant is available year round, peak season runs from July through October, so now is the time to stock up! Here’s our helpful guide to eggplant varieties you should be on the lookout for this season.
1. Globe Eggplant (American Eggplant)
The American eggplant is available at most grocery stores or markets. It’s skin is dark purple, it’s pear shaped and it has a meaty inside. The Globe eggplant is perfect to slice up and throw on the grill or dice it up and roast it in the oven.
You can even use this eggplant when you’re making Baba Ghanoush, a delicious Middle Eastern spread or side dish.
2. Italian Eggplant
Italian eggplant looks pretty similar to globe eggplant, but it’s size is slightly smaller. The dark purple skin is more tender and the inside tends to taste sweeter, but still just as meaty. You can use Italian eggplant in any dish, but it’s ideal for Italian dishes like eggplant Parmesan or you could roast it and combine with pasta, marinara sauce, and fresh mozzarella.
3. Japanese and Chinese Eggplant
These gorgeous types of eggplant are known for their long, skinny shape and delicate flavor. This skin color for these eggplants range from light purple to deep purple to almost black in color. You can tell the difference between the two because Chinese eggplants are light purple. However, both varieties have a sweeter flavor and do not contain many seeds, which usually causes the bitterness.
Slice them up and toss into a stir fry or cut in half and throw them on the grill with some olive oil and seasonings.
4. White Eggplant
This type of eggplant sure looks interesting, but there’s really no difference in flavor. It’s just as meaty and it’s great to use in any eggplant recipe.
5. Graffiti Eggplant
Graffiti eggplant is known for the funky white and purple markings on the outer skin, which unfortunately disappear once cooked. Graffiti eggplant is about the same size as Italian eggplant with a sweet, less bitter taste. You can use this type in any eggplant recipe.
5. Indian Eggplant
These tiny, but super cute Indian eggplants are most commonly used in Indian cooking. They’re also great to throw in to soups, stews, or even cooked whole. The eggplant peels are dark purple and the inside is very tender.
6. Fairy Tale Eggplant
This miniature sized eggplant looks as cute as its name. It’s about the size of the palm of your hand and has very few seeds, which means it’s hardly bitter. The creamy textures makes it ideal for grilling or sautéing and served as a side dish alongside steak or chicken.
7. Thai Eggplant
These tiny, round eggplants might be harder to find around the United States because they’re mostly found in Thailand, but if you do spot them, you’ll want to add them to a curry. They’re usually greenish in color, but there do come in purple and white.
Keep in mind that Thai eggplant has an extremely bitter taste, so it’s best to remove the seeds.
8. Rosa Bianca Eggplant
This gorgeous Italian heirloom is an eggplant you’ll want to try out. It’s plump and round with shades and lavender and white throughout. It does not have a bitter taste to it and is very mild. It’s best for slicing up and throwing on the grill or roasting in the oven.
9. Filipino Eggplant
Filipino eggplant is long and thin and sometimes slightly curved. The smooth, outer skin is dark purple with specks of green throughout. This type of eggplant has a delicate flavor and very few seeds and is commonly used for roasting, frying, or in stews.
10. Green Apple Eggplant
This eggplant variety looks like a small green apple from the outside. The interior is also a lot like an apple and has a creamy texture when cooked.