Should Eggplant Be Refrigerated? A Complete Guide

Should eggplant be refrigerated or not? Find out the best way to store, prepare, and cook eggplant in this complete guide. Learn some tips and tricks on how to select, use, and enjoy this versatile vegetable.

Eggplant, or aubergine or brinjal, is a versatile vegetable used in many dishes, from eggplant parmesan to baba ganoush. But how should you store eggplant to keep it fresh and tasty? Should eggplant be refrigerated or left at room temperature? In this article, we will answer these questions and more and provide some tips and tricks on selecting, preparing, and cooking eggplant.

What is Eggplant?

Eggplant is a nightshade family member, along with tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. It is technically a fruit but is usually treated as a vegetable in cooking. Eggplant has glossy purple skin and a spongy white flesh that contains many tiny seeds. The meat has a mild flavor and a creamy texture when cooked.

Eggplant comes in different shapes, sizes, and colors. The most common variety is the globe eggplant, which has a large, oval shape and deep purple skin. Other types include the Italian eggplant, which is smaller and teardrop-shaped; the Japanese eggplant, which is long and slender; the Chinese eggplant, which is similar to the Japanese but lighter in color; the Indian eggplant, which is small and round; and the white eggplant, which has a pale skin and a sweeter flavor.

How to Select Eggplant

When buying eggplant, look for firm, heavy, and smooth ones. Avoid ones that are soft, wrinkled, bruised, or discolored. The stem should be green and fresh-looking. The skin should be shiny and not dull. You can also check the ripeness of an eggplant by gently pressing it with your thumb. It is ripe if it leaves a slight indentation that bounces back quickly. It is either underripe or overripe if it leaves no mark or a deep dent that does not recover.

How to Store Eggplant

Eggplant is sensitive to both cold and heat. It does not like temperatures below 50°F (10°C) or above 68°F (20°C). Therefore, it is not recommended to refrigerate eggplant unless you live in a very hot or humid climate. Cooling eggplant can cause it to lose its flavor, texture, and color. It can also make it more susceptible to browning and rotting.

The best way to store eggplant is to keep it at room temperature in a cool, dry, and dark place. Place it in a perforated plastic bag or wrap it loosely in paper towels to prevent moisture loss. Do not store it near ethylene-producing fruits such as apples, bananas, or tomatoes, as they can speed up the ripening process and cause spoilage. Wait to wash or cut the eggplant until you can use it.

Eggplant can last 3 to 5 days at room temperature if stored properly. If you need to extend its shelf life, you can freeze it after cooking. Cut the cooked eggplant into pieces and place them in an airtight container or freezer bag. Label and date the container and freeze for up to 6 months. To use frozen eggplant, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it in the oven or microwave.

How to Prepare Eggplant

Before cooking eggplant, wash it well and trim off the stem and any brown spots. You can peel the skin, but it is edible and contains antioxidants and fiber. Some people like to salt their eggplant slices before cooking them to absorb excess moisture and bitterness. To do this, sprinkle salt generously over the pieces and let them sit in a colander for about 30 minutes. Then rinse them well and pat them dry with paper towels.

There are many ways to cook eggplant, such as baking, roasting, grilling, frying, sautéing, steaming, or stewing. You can use eggplant as a main dish, a side dish, or an ingredient in salads, soups, casseroles, dips, sandwiches, pizzas, pasta, curries, and more. Eggplant pairs well with flavors such as garlic, onion, tomato, cheese, herbs (such as basil), spices (such as cumin), lemon juice, vinegar, and olive oil.

Here are some examples of delicious eggplant recipes:

  • Eggplant Parmesan: A classic Italian dish of breaded and fried eggplant slices layered with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese and baked until bubbly.
  • Baba Ganoush: A Middle Eastern dip of roasted eggplant pureed with tahini (sesame paste), garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil served with pita bread or fresh vegetables.
  • Ratatouille: A French vegetable stew of eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, onion, tomato, garlic, and herbs cooked in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.
  • Moussaka: A Greek casserole of layered eggplant, ground lamb or beef, tomato sauce, and béchamel sauce sprinkled with cheese and baked until golden.
  • Eggplant Curry: An Indian dish of eggplant cubes cooked in a spicy sauce of onion, garlic, ginger, tomato, and various spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala, and chili powder and served with rice or naan bread.

Should Eggplant Be Refrigerated?

To sum up, the answer to the question “Should eggplant be refrigerated?” is: it depends. If you live in a very hot or humid climate, you may want to refrigerate your eggplant to prevent it from spoiling quickly. However, if you live in moderate or cool weather, you can store your eggplant at room temperature in a cool, dry, and dark place. Refrigerating eggplant can affect its flavor, texture, and color negatively. Therefore, it is better to use your eggplant within a few days of buying it or freeze it after cooking it if you want to keep it longer.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about eggplant and their answers.

How do you know if an eggplant is terrible?

An imperfect eggplant will have signs such as soft spots, wrinkles, bruises, discoloration, mold, or a sour smell. If you see any of these signs, discard the eggplant and do not eat it.

How do you get rid of the bitterness in eggplant?

Some people find eggplant bitter and unpleasant to eat. One way to eliminate the bitterness is to salt the eggplant slices before cooking them. This will draw out excess moisture and anger from the flesh. Another way is to choose young and fresh eggplants with fewer seeds and less bitterness.

Is eggplant good for you?

Eggplant is good for you as it is low in calories but high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. It can also protect against cancer, inflammation, and oxidative stress.

Can you eat raw eggplant?

You can eat raw eggplant, which could be more tasty and digestible. Raw eggplant has a bitter and spongy texture that can cause stomach upset or allergic reactions in some people. It also contains solanine, a toxic compound that can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, or fever if consumed in large amounts. Therefore, it is better to cook your eggplant before eating it.

Can you freeze raw eggplant?

You can freeze raw eggplant, but it is not recommended as it will lose its texture and flavor when thawed. Freezing raw eggplant will cause its cells to burst and release water, making it mushy and watery. It will also turn brown and lose its nutrients. Therefore, it is better to cook your eggplant before freezing it.

Conclusion

Eggplant is a delicious and versatile vegetable used in many dishes from different cuisines. It has a mild flavor and a creamy texture when cooked. It is also nutritious and beneficial for your health. However, storing eggplant can be tricky as it is sensitive to both cold and heat. The best way to store eggplant is to keep it at room temperature in a cool, dry, and dark place for up to 5 days. If you need to refrigerate or freeze your eggplant, cook it first to preserve its quality. We hope this article has answered your question, “Should eggplant be refrigerated?” and give you some valuable tips and tricks on selecting, preparing, and cooking eggplant. Enjoy!

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