Most of the non-vegetarians and non-vegans think that vegan plates are bland and boring. But little do they know about the variety of delicious vegetables and fruits which actually demolish the usual belief of healthy foods being tasteless. Because of the wrong representation of vegan foods, this misconception still remains.
However, it’s not entirely true that vegans have explored all the fruits and vegetables the earth has to offer. Most of the time, a particular item gets neglected because it’s not very common, and people have little knowledge about it. An eggplant could be taken for an example as we still have some unanswered queries regarding its taste, which category it falls under, how we should use it in our diets, and so on.
So, let’s proceed to know what eggplant taste like, how you can change the taste while cooking, and other important aspects of it that are yet to be answered.
What’s an Eggplant?
Eggplant, which is also known as brinjal and aubergine, is shockingly a seeded berry and not a vegetable! It is a plant species belonging to the nightshade family named Solanaceae. Eggplants generally have a purple color and are originated in either India or China. This spongy fruit actually falls under the category of potatoes and tomatoes as eggplants are usually eaten cooked like a potato. Like a tomato, the skin and the seeds could be eaten.
What does an Eggplant look like?
Eggplants resemble the shape of an egg, which is why this name is given. The size differs as the wild eggplants can be around 3 cm, whereas the cultivated forms can be more than 30 cm in diameter. While eggplants are usually purple in color, they can have many colors like lavender, yellowish-white, and even orange. In the West, eggplants are found to be longer and narrower.
It is known that in the 17th century, Thomas Jefferson first introduced this fruit to the US. After a century, eggplants became a widely used ingredient in this part of the world. (Source)
What Does an Eggplant Taste like?
Unlike their color and size, which differ, the taste of an eggplant remains the same in all varieties. Eggplants are usually bland and quite bitter if you eat them raw. An overripe eggplant taste more bitter than the perfectly ripe ones.
The eggplant taste can be compared to zucchini, as both have similar tastelessness with some bitterness. But now eggplants are cultivated so that the bitter taste of them has become less strong.
However, the unappetizing bitterness of an eggplant vanishes when you cook it. Its spongy texture absorbs the oil and flavors of other ingredients that are cooked with it. So, actually, eggplants are very versatile as you can cook them the way you want and enjoy their heavenly taste.
What Does Each Part Of An Eggplant Tastes Like?
The pores and skin of the eggplant have a mildly acidic flavor that will intensify as the fruit ages. Eggplants have thin skin that ranges in color from deep red to milky white, depending on the cultivar. Unless you’re dealing with overmatured eggplants, which tend to have sour skin, the skin is high in antioxidants and usually fit for human consumption. Before cutting or cubing the meat, it is possible to peel the skin.
Eggplants have little edible seeds in the pulp that are bitter due to the presence of alkaloids. Young eggplants feature delicate, scarcely discernible seeds that aren’t as bitter as blackberries. When the seeds ripen, they turn brown and disappear when emptied from the eggplants with a spoon before cooking.
The taste of eggplant pulp is rich and delightful, and it becomes more earthy, smoky, and meaty as it cooks. Because of its absorption capability, the white, spongy pulp of eggplants is the most prized portion. The spongy pulp makes up for its lack of vitamins by being able to absorb oils and tastes when cooking.
What is an Eggplant Used For?
Eggplants can cause some digestive problems if you eat them raw. That’s why they are cooked nicely. The fact of eggplants being versatile opens up many cooking options for us. They are widely used for sautéing and stuffing. But they can also be used in soups and stews. They can be a part of steamed and baked dishes.
Eggplants are also grilled and roasted. You can stir-fry them or put them in your curry. Because they are very absorbent, you can also make use out of them by adding them in various spreads and dips.
Benefits of Having an Eggplant
If you want to have more nutrients from your diet, be ready to include eggplant in your meal.
Eggplants are filled with fibers, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, so you get all the goodness in one fruit. Besides that, eggplants are proven to have numerous health benefits, like curing asthma and bronchitis, which is why it has been used in traditional medicine. (Source)
The benefits of having an Eggplant are –
1. Great Source of Essential Nutrients
Eggplants contain vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, niacin, magnesium, potassium, thiamine, manganese, fiber, copper, folic acid, and many more essential nutrients to improve your health.
2. Helps Improve Digestion
Eggplants have a high fiber content which is a vital element in maintaining proper digestion. Because of this, eggplants actually contribute to improving the gastrointestinal health of your body. If you are vegan and face frequent digestive issues, vegan probiotic supplements might benefit you alongside a balanced diet.
3. Improves Bone Health
Eggplants are proven to improve bone density. Potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, which are known to strengthen your bones, are all found in eggplants. That’s why eggplants reduce osteoporosis, helping to preserve your overall bone health.
4. Maintains Good Heart Health
Eggplants are filled with fibers, which decreases the cholesterol our body absorbs and maintains good heart health. Also, an eggplant’s skin is filled with antioxidants, which again contributes to a better heart.
5. Helps in Weight Loss
Eggplants are very watery and low in calories. That’s why they are an ideal food if you want to cut short your calorie intake to reduce some weight. (Source)
How Can You Tell If an Eggplant Is Good?
Here are some tips you can follow in choosing the right eggplant.
- Feel the weight of the eggplant. If it seems very light compared to its size, there can be a possibility of that eggplant being ruined. If it is too heavy, then it’s probably an overripe one.
- Take a look at the skin. The skin of an Eggplant should not have any discoloration or bruises.
- Have a quick finger test. Press your finger against the skin of an Eggplant. If you see the skin bouncing back, it’s that eggplant without any hesitation. But if the indentation stays for a while, you should wait for some days before eating it.
5 Tips for Changing the Eggplant Taste When Cooking
There are some tips to follow if you want to incorporate this healthy fruit into your diet. These are –
1. Adding Salt
The most tried and tested method to remove an Eggplant’s bitterness is to sprinkle a nice amount of salt to eggplant. After they are cut into slices or cubes, add some salt, coat the slices, and keep them for at least 10 minutes before cooking to eliminate the bitterness.
2. Soak in Milk
It’s not a very well-known method, but it’s 100% effective. Put some milk in a bowl and soak the slices of eggplant for around 30 minutes. Then cook them to avoid bitterness.
3. Cooking it in the Right Amount of Fat
Eggplants are like a sponge; they absorb oil like magic. So, you should be adding enough oil to cook eggplants because it will soak up much of the oil. If you don’t, the raw bitterness will remain.
4. Cooking Eggplants with Many Ingredients
Eggplants taste best when they are crispy outside and smooth on the inside. This can be achieved if you give enough time to cook eggplants, not with many other vegetables. That caramelization only happens when you give eggplants enough space to brown.
5. Take out the Seeds
You can always take out the seeds of an Eggplant if it tastes very bitter to you. In that way, you will be having only the goodness and not the bitter taste of it.
How To Store Cut Eggplant?
Once its protective purple skin is punctured, an eggplant can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, but it quickly oxidizes and goes rotten. Storing cut eggplant can be tricky. But we have the solutions for you. Cut eggplant, like apples, will turn brown after being exposed to the air for a short period.
While this discoloration does not affect the eggplant’s taste, it might make it appear unappealing. To prevent or delay discoloration, treat eggplant in the same way you would apples.
Step 1. Fill a glass jar halfway with eggplant chunks.
Step 2. Lemon juice should be drizzled over the eggplant slices. Use just enough lemon juice to coat each eggplant, but not so much that the bottom of the container becomes a large pool of lemon juice. Use around 2 tbsp of lemon juice per medium-sized eggplant as a rule of thumb.
Step 3. Close the glass container tightly with the lid.
Step 4. To evenly coat the eggplant with the lemon juice, gently shake or invert the glass container several times. Use the eggplant as soon as possible, but no later than two or three days. Keep the eggplant jar refrigerated if you aren’t using the eggplant within a few hours of cutting it.
If you plan on using the eggplant within a few hours, season it with salt and lemon juice. This will remove the extra moisture from the eggplant and some of the bitterness.
How To Prevent Oxidation In Eggplant?
After removing the skin and slicing the eggplant, immerse the slices in salted water right away. This lessens the chance of a bitter aftertaste, and the water reduces oxygen exposure.
(Lay the eggplant in a 9 x 13 baking dish, cover with water, and season with salt; place saucers on top of the eggplant to submerge it; if you don’t, it will float to the top.)
Soak the eggplant for 15 minutes in salted water, then blot dry with a paper towel before cooking. According to some sources, soaking eggplant in saltwater prevents bitterness. Although there’s some debate about it, I always soak the eggplant in saline water before cooking to keep it from browning.
1. Keep It Away From Fruits
Keep eggplant away from ethylene-producing fruits when you’re storing them. Apples, melons, avocados, bananas, and nectarines are just a few fruits that fall under this category.
When you store eggplant among these fruits, you can shorten its storage time by a couple of days. You must properly preserve eggplant to keep it as fresh as possible. How to preserve eggplant isn’t as simple as putting it on the counter or putting it in the fridge. However, it is more about creating the ideal environment in your home. When it comes to eggplant storage, you have two options: utilize it immediately or save it for later.
Eggplants can not be canned unless you want to make a pickle out of them. However, they can be frozen and dehydrated.
2. Store It At Room Temperature
Fresh eggplants can be refrigerated for up to 5 days at temperatures of 50 to 54 degrees F (10 to 12 degrees C). Internal deterioration can be detected by looking for bruised fruits or those with damaged patches. Throw them out if they have any mushy, slimy, or dark discolorations. The ideal way to keep eggplant is at room temperature, rather than in the refrigerator.
Preserve eggplant cold and out of bright sun following picking or buying it, and utilize it as rapidly as feasible. Put it in a vented dish, but don’t seal it in a plastic bag because that may hasten degradation.
Step 1. Wrap eggplants in a paper bag as follows: The eggplants are kept fresh with adequate air circulation in paper bags that absorb moisture.
Step 2. Place the wrapped eggplants in a ventilated bowl to allow air to circulate freely. This also helps to slow down the loss of freshness, allowing whole eggplants to be kept for up to 5 days.
- Bananas, melons, plums, pears, peaches, and tomatoes should be kept away from eggplants since these fruits emit ethylene gas, which speeds up the ripening process and might cause spoiling.
- Wrap individual eggplants in paper towels to prevent them from touching during storage if you’re storing numerous eggplants. This is because when the skins come into touch, they are more prone to sweat, causing the skins to rot.
Eggplants are very tasty. And because of their versatile nature, they can be easily cooked in any way, which seems good to you. Also, the health benefits of eggplants are very surprising. They improve our heart and bone health and also help to maintain a good digestive system like Bananas (bananas are vegan). So do not ignore a shiny eggplant when you’re in the market and cook them to impress your taste buds.