By Cat, April 15, 2016 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
Eggplant is one of my favorite veggies; well, technically it is a fruit because it bears the seed of the plant. It is a member of the nightshade family which includes tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, potatoes, tobacco, and the highly toxic plant known as ‘deadly nightshade’ or belladonna. All of the members of this family can be toxic when the fruit is not ripe (consider also the nicotine in tobacco…), and some are toxic whether ripe or not.
Eggplant is rich in healthful nutrients: “In addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplant also contains important phytonutrients, many which have antioxidant activity. Phytonutrients contained in eggplant include phenolic compounds, such caffeic and chlorogenic acid, and flavonoids, such as nasunin.” (2)
Eggplant is fragile and should be stored properly in the refrigerator, and only for a couple days before using. On fresh eggplants, the skin is edible, but on older fruits, it can be tough and should be peeled before using. Do not wash the fruit until ready to use (s).
The edible fruit members of the nightshade family: eggplant, tomato, tomatillos, and peppers are all safe to eat when the fruit is ripe. But one should be cautious if the fruit under the skin has any green color (except for ‘green tomatillos”), especially around the seeds. Potatoes are not a fruit but rather tubers that grow from the roots, but they also should be avoided if there is any green in the meat of the potato, or if they bear green sprouts.
How to tell if Eggplant is ripe
As a member of the nightshade family, you should avoid eggplant if the meat of the fruit has any green color, as that green is toxic, and an indicator the eggplant is not yet ripe and potentially toxic.
From whfoods.com (2):
Choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size. Their skin should be smooth and shiny, and their color, whether it be purple, white or green, should be vivid. They should be free of discoloration, scars, and bruises, which usually indicate that the flesh beneath has become damaged and possibly decayed….The stem and cap, on either end of the eggplant, should be bright green in color.”
From Nowcast.com (1):
Hold the eggplant in the palm of your hand and gently squeeze it with your fingertips. The skin should be slightly elastic and spring back when you release it. If indentations remain where your fingertips were, the eggplant isn’t ripe yet. Look for soft spots or bruises on the skin of the eggplant
- Howcast.com: howcast.com/videos/398335-how-to-tell-if-eggplant-is-ripe/ and their video on YouTube: youtube.com/watch?v=3V7zQshcybE
- Worlds Healthiest Foods on eggplant: whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=22&tname=foodspice