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When is Eggplant in Season?

Por Team Fetch

May 6, 2024

Eggplant: it’s more than a spicy NSFW emoji. It’s also packed with nutrients, low in calories, and can be grilled, sautéed, stewed, baked, or fried as part of anything from Italian eggplant parm to a rich and smoky Baba Ghanoush.

So when is eggplant season?

A classic summer treat, eggplants season runs from July through October. Eggplant sales tend to spike in August and then again in the spring around March or May. Prices stay pretty consistent year-round, though they can dip as much as 5-10% during winter.

To make each purchase go a little further throughout the whole year, download the Fetch grocery app. By snapping pictures of your receipts and collecting reward points, you’ll earn free gift cards to a whole host of retailers. Our free shopping rewards app is available for both Apple and Android devices, so start earning points today whether you’re shopping for one or feeding the whole family.

In the meantime, here’s the lowdown on eggplants.

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Why is it Called Eggplant?

I mean, really? It doesn’t taste like an egg. It doesn’t look like an egg. It sure as heck doesn’t come from a chicken.

Mystifying. Crazy. Wackadoodle.

Except… not so much back in the 1700s. North Americans of yore were used to white cultivars that do indeed resemble hen’s eggs. The word “eggplant” was first recorded in 1763 and has stuck around since. Brits, Germans, French, and Dutch call it “aubergine,” so follow their lead if you’re ever feeling continental. Gotta say though, “aubergine parmesan” doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Info on when eggplant is in season in the US

How to Pick an Eggplant at the Grocery Store

We’d wager you’re most familiar with eggplants of the large, oblong, and deep purple type, but other varieties exist. How do you choose the best? Here are just a few strategies for picking the perfect eggplant:

  • Color: Dull skin indicates poor storage or subpar quality, which means you should prioritize eggplants with deep, shiny surfaces. Color should be uniform throughout – put back any eggplants with brown blemishes.
  • Surface: Skin should be taut, tight, and smooth, with no soft spots or wrinkles.
  • Firmness: Eggplants should have a little give, though not quite as much as a ripe tomato or peach.
  • Stem: The skin might tell one story while the stem tells another. Look for bright green stems that are free of any mold or mushiness.
  • Size: Bigger isn’t better when it comes to eggplants – larger ones tend to have more seeds and taste more bitter, so go for small to medium-sized eggplants instead.

Can You Eat Eggplant Raw?

Yep, go for it. The leaves and flowers can be toxic, but eggplant itself is safe to eat whether raw or cooked. Some are sensitive to the compound solanine, but you’ll need to consume a lot of eggplant before that becomes a problem. We’re talking at least a dozen in one sitting. Probs not your average Friday night in.

But while you can eat eggplant raw, you probably won’t. It’s a little bitter, and eggplant’s greatest culinary virtue is its ability to take on other flavors while cooking. If you do fancy incorporating some raw eggplant into the mix, try throwing it into a salad to soak up flavors and balance out the sweetness of ingredients like apples, carrots, tomatoes, and other fruit.

Tips for identifying ripe eggplant

What Does Eggplant Taste Like?

Fans of zucchini or yellow summer squash are apt to enjoy the mild, subtly sweet flavor of eggplant, but the texture is what makes it special. Soft and spongy, it readily absorbs other flavors and tends to taste like whatever you pair it with.

Need to know how to make eggplant taste good every time? Here are a few tips to get you there.

  • Remove excess moisture by sprinkling sliced eggplant with salt and letting sit for at least 20 minutes before cooking.
  • Eggplant skin is generally thick and tough to chew, so peeling is usually the way to go.
  • When baking or roasting, give eggplants room to evaporate water and properly caramelize by spacing them generously and evenly.
  • Pay attention to cooking times. Undercooked, it’ll be like biting into Styrofoam; overcooked, it’s going to end up soft and mushy.

How to Store Eggplant

Handle your eggplants with care, dear reader! Those soft shiny skins can be damaged easily, so opt for a light touch and avoid stacking anything on them. Once safely home, your eggplants can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, preferably in the vegetable compartment to provide the high humidity they need to stay nice and fresh. Vegetable compartment not an option? Wrap your eggplants loosely in plastic wrap and pop them in the main part of your fridge instead.

How to Cut Eggplant

A large sharp knife is your go-to when slicing eggplant – it’ll give you the most precise cuts with the least effort. Knife in hand and eggplant on cutting board, start by removing the top and bottom before slicing in one of these three ways:

  • Cut Lengthwise: Stand the eggplant on its bottom, then make half-inch vertical slices from the top down.
  • Cut Into Rounds: Lay the eggplant on its side, then make half-inch slices across the fruit.
  • Cut Into Cubes: Stand vertically and make half-inch vertical slices. Keeping the slices together, lay the eggplant on its side and cut each vertical slice into sticks before finally cutting those sticks into your desired cube size.

Can You Freeze Eggplant?

Eggplant is a classic warm weather vegetable, but you can keep yourself well-stocked through winter by putting some away in the freezer.

Now, you can simply slice them raw and throw them in the freezer, but they’ll only last about 3 months. A touch more prep boosts their longevity up to 9 months, and you have two options from which to choose.

Puree, Then Freeze

  1. Wash and thoroughly dry your eggplant, then remove the green tops and use a fork to puncture the skin.
  2. Microwave on high for around 4 minutes until the insides collapse.
  3. Allow to cool before blending until smooth in a blender or food processor.
  4. Scoop into freezer bags, ice cube trays, muffin tins, or dishes.
  5. Freeze.

Blanche, Then Freeze

  1. Wash, dry, and peel your eggplants, then fill a large pot 2/3 with water and boil.
  2. Slice your eggplants into quarter inches, then dump them in once water is boiling vigorously.
  3. Leave for 4 minutes, then remove from the water and cool using either ice or cold water – this keeps the eggplant from overcooking.
  4. Once cooled, evenly spread your eggplant slices in a single layer on a baking or cookie tray. If multiple layers are needed, separate each with a sheet of parchment paper.
  5. Freeze.

Can Dogs Eat Eggplant?

Eggplant might be packed with nutrients, but your dog can only get enough to make a significant impact on their health by consuming way too much. Bit of a catch 22, so best reserve eggplant as an occasional treat. Just remove the stems and leaves before tossing to your pup – they’re the toxic part.

You’ll also want to watch your dog for signs of an allergic reaction if it’s the first time they’ve indulged in eggplant. Symptoms to watch for include diarrhea, vomiting, and itchiness.

Unmissable Eggplant Recipes

While you can eat eggplant by itself, this spongy and absorbent fruit is particularly well-suited as the base for a whole realm of tasty recipes. Below are our top picks.

How to Make Eggplant Parmesan

Loaded with herbs, tomato sauce, and cheese, eggplant parm is a firm family favorite that combines rich flavors with the phenomenal ability to sneak fresh, healthy produce into your kid’s diet without them noticing. Talk about win-win.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large eggplants cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ cup of almond milk
  • 1½ cups of Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1¼ cup of BelGioioso Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 teaspoons of oregano
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon of sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 28 ounces Marinara Sauce
  • 2 large balls of fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup of fresh basil leaves

Recipe:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F, then line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk almond milk and eggs in a medium-sized shallow dish.
  3. In another medium-sized shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs, 1 cup of your parmesan cheese, oregano, thyme, and red pepper flakes, plus a dash of salt and pepper.
  4. Dip each eggplant slice into the egg mixture and then into the breadcrumb mixture, then evenly place on your baking sheets before drizzling with olive oil and baking for around 18 minutes, or until golden brown and tender.
  5. Take a 8×12 or 9×13-inch baking dish, then spread a half cup of marinara before layering over half the eggplant and topping with a cup of marinara and half your mozzarella, then repeat.
  6. Sprinkle over your remaining ¼ cup of parmesan, then drizzle with olive oil and a few pinches of sea salt.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes until the cheese is nicely melted, then turn the oven to broil for 2 to 4 minutes until the cheese starts to bubble and brown.
  8. Remove from the oven, top with fresh basil, serve, and enjoy.

How to Make Fried Eggplant

Quick and easy as a snack when eaten on its own or ideal as a meal when served with fresh green beans, tomatoes, and a crusty slice of bread, fried eggplant is a versatile little number that even those new to the kitchen can master in a flash.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of canola oil
  • 1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced
  • 3 large Eggland’s Best eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups of dry breadcrumbs

Recipe:

  1. Dip each eggplant slice into your egg mixture, then coat with breadcrumbs.
  2. Warm your oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.
  3. Carefully place each eggplant slice in the hot oil and fry until it turns golden brown – you’re looking at about 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  4. Transfer eggplant to paper towels to drain away some of the oil, then serve.

How to Make Eggplant Tofu

This one takes a little more effort, but you’ll be rewarded with a healthy meal that’s absolutely bursting with flavor. We particularly love how the crispy texture taken on by the tofu pairs with the tender eggplant.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Chinese eggplants or 1 normal eggplant
  • 1 block of extra firm tofu
  • 3 green onions, green and white sections separated and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly minced garlic
  • ¼ cup of cornstarch
  • Vegetable oil
  • Toasted sesame seeds

Sauce ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce or vegan oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce or 1 tablespoon of regular soy sauce mixed with 1 teaspoon of brown sugar
  • ½ tablespoon of black vinegar or rice vinegar
  • ½ tablespoon of ginger paste or fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon of MSG

Recipe:

  1. Use a tofu press to remove excess moisture. If you don’t have one, wrap your tofu block in paper towels and place it under something heavy for around half an hour.
  2. Cut tofu into 3/4-inch cubes, then dust with cornstarch and toss until fully coated.
  3. Cut the top from your eggplant, then quarter lengthwise, cut the strips into half-inch pieces, dust with cornstarch, and toss to coat.
  4. Combine all sauce ingredients, then set aside.
  5. Heat a swirl of your vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, then add eggplant chunks and cook, stirring regularly until it’s crispy in some places and soft all the way through (about 5 to 7 minutes). Transfer to a plate, then cover with foil to keep warm.
  6. Add another swirl of vegetable oil to your skillet or wok, then add the cubed tofu. Cook for about 10 minutes until golden and crispy on most sides, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate.
  7. Add a touch more oil, then add the garlic and the whites of your green onions. Cook for around 1 minute, stirring constantly, then add the sauce and mix together before reintroducing your tofu and eggplant to the party.
  8. Remove from the heat and mix everything together, then top with the green onion greens and some toasted sesame seeds. Serve right away with white rice on the side.

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