Smaller, immature eggplants are best. Full-size puffy ones may have hard seeds and can be bitter.
Choose a firm, smooth-skinned eggplant that is heavy for its size; avoid those with soft or brown spots. Gently push with your thumb or forefinger. If the flesh gives slightly but then bounces back, it is ripe. If the indentation remains, it is overripe and the insides will be mushy. If there is no give, the eggplant was picked too early.
Iron Removal: Nasunin, a phytonutrient in eggplant, is known to help remove the excess iron which helps reduce free radical production in the body. Iron is essential to great health, but in excess, it is known to cause a rise in the production of free radicals in the body, hence placing you at a higher risk of heart disease and cancer.
Another benefit of the removal of excess iron, is the prevention of peroxidation in blood cholesterol, which can lead to cellular damage.
Antimicrobial properties: Eggplants have a high amount of a phenolic compound called chlorogenic acid, which acts as antimicrobial, antiviral, antimutagenic, and anti LDL.
Digestive Health: The high amounts of fiber found in eggplant helps the proper functioning of the digestive system as well as prevention of coronary heart disease.
Hydration and Blood Pressure: The amount of potassium in eggplant helps balance the salt intake with the body’s hydration level and also aids in regulating blood pressure.
Diabetes Maintenance: The low amount of carbohydrates and high amount of fiber in eggplants can help reduce the glucose levels of type II Diabetes.
Types of Eggplants
Chinese Eggplant: are long and purple. They are sweet and more tender than American eggplants. The skin is soft and the eggplant is rarely peeled. It can be a substitute in any eggplant recipe. They are available year-round
Indian Eggplant & Indian Paint Eggplant: Indian eggplant is small and reddish purple. It is more tender than American eggplant and has a sweet flavor. IT is rarely peeled and can be substituted in any eggplant recipe. The Indian pain eggplant has white stripes. They are available year-round. (Indian Paint available April-September and November – January)
Japanese Eggplant: Long, slender and come in green, pink, white, lavender, or violet. Japanese eggplants have a sweet flavor and think skin. They are available year-round.
Pingtung Long Eggplant: are long and dark purple. They are known for being very tender and sweet.
Thai Eggplant: are small and round. They are bitter compared to American eggplant and the seeds hold the bitterness; hence why they should be removed before cooking. They can be many different colors, but most commonly, green with yellow or white strips. They are available year-round.
White Eggplant: obviously, white and small. They have become more of a cream colored today, and are very delicate. Available year-round.