I admit, eggplant is one of my least favorite vegetables. Still, I realize that many vegetarians appreciate this meaty textured plant. I do know when and how to pick eggplant. I also know how to grow it. I just don’t want to. The texture of eggplant is very reminiscent of meat. Therein lies the problem. I’m not just a vegetarian for health reasons, environmental reasons, or because I have some seafood allergies. I also loathe the taste and texture of meat. For most vegetarians, eggplant is a great substitute for the meaty texture they miss. Meat eaters love it too. So, for you, despite my own disdain for eggplant, here’s when and how to pick eggplant.
Before the Harvest
You can’t pick eggplant if you don’t grow it first. Despite eggplant being banished from my garden, it may be welcome in yours. Eggplant is a hot weather vegetable. Start seeds indoors just a couple weeks before your tomatoes. Plant outdoors well after frost danger has subsided. The general rule is 12 inches apart. Eggplant requires good drainage and consistent watering. Take heed of this and your eggplants will be ripe for the picking in no time at all.
Most people are accustomed to buying the variety of eggplant known as “Black Beauty”. These are dark purple, almost black in color. Hence the name. Actually, eggplant come in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes. I hate to admit it, but they do look very pretty in the garden. When a Black Beauty eggplant is ready, it will be shiny and reflect the light like a piece of black glass.
Size and Shape
As I mentioned before, the sizes and shapes of eggplant do vary. Like all varieties of eggplant, the flavor is best when picked young. Size doesn’t matter as much as the shine that tells you the eggplant is ripe for the picking. As for the Black Beauty, I recommend it be picked when just a little larger than your hand.
When picking eggplant be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands. Most eggplants are thorn bearing. Hold the eggplant lightly in the palm of your hand. Check to make sure it’s ripe by looking for that glossy shine. Cut the stem about an inch above the eggplant with sharp scissors. This keeps the plant from being damaged so it can continue producing.