The Ultimate Eggplant Varieties Guide

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 one we're used to.

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 this tasty veggie is available year round, peak season runs from July through October, so now is the time to stock up!

Eggplants, which are in the nightshade family and are scientifically called aubergines, are an excellent source many nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants. These colorful veggies are packed full of potassium, folate, magnesium, copper, manganese, niacin, fiber, along with being an excellent low-carbohydrate or gluten-free option. Here's our helpful guide to eggplant varieties you should be on the lookout for this season.

1. Globe 

The Globe, or American, eggplant is available at most grocery stores or markets. Its 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 kind when you're making Baba Ghanoush, a delicious Mediterranean spread or side dish.

2. Italian

Italian eggplant looks pretty similar to the globe variety, but its 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. It also tastes great with lemon juice or a bit of salt and pepper.

3. Japanese and Chinese

These gorgeous types of eggplant are known for their long, skinny shape and delicate flavor. This skin color ranges 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 compared to Japanese eggplants. However, both varieties have a sweeter flavor and do not contain many seeds, which usually causes the bitterness.

Slice these Asian veggies up and toss into a stir fry or cut in half and throw eggplant slices on the grill with some olive oil and seasonings for a crispy side dish.

4. White

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, from ratatouille to sautéed and sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

5. Graffiti

Graffiti eggplant is known for the funky white and purple markings on the outer skin, which unfortunately disappear once cooked. This type is about the same size as the Italian variety with a sweet, less bitter taste, and it tastes great with tomato sauce. You can use this type in any eggplant recipe.

5. Indian

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

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

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 before cooking eggplant.

8. Rosa Bianca

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 on a baking sheet.

9. Filipino

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 

This 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.

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This post was originally published on July 2, 2018.