Learning how to pick out ripe and healthy Japanese eggplant isn’t difficult, but there are a few things that you need to know.
If you are about to make your first Japanese eggplant recipe, check out our quick guide below. It will for sure help you pick out a ripe and ready-to-cook Japanese eggplant.
Before we get too far into this, I want to clarify that a Japanese eggplant differs from a normal eggplant. It is a bit sweeter in flavor, and there are fewer seeds in a Japanese eggplant.
Also, Japanese eggplant looks a bit different. They are longer and skinnier than a normal eggplant. So if your recipe calls for Japanese eggplant, ensure you don’t confuse the two.
When it comes to choosing a Japanese eggplant, there are a few factors that you should consider. These are size, color, weight, firmness, and appearance.
Carefully taking a few moments to inspect your Japanese eggplant will help you pick out a ripe and fresh one that will cook up nicely.
About the size
First, choose Japanese eggplants are middle of the pack in size. Don’t choose the smallest size or the largest one.
The medium-sized ones will have a more balanced flavor. The smaller ones may be underripe and less flavorful. The larger ones may be tough and overripe.
About the color
You want vibrant-looking Japanese eggplants that are glossy and have dark purple skin. This dark color and shiny skin are a good sign that the eggplant is ripe and will be full of flavor.
Look for eggplants that are uniform in color. If the eggplant is discolored or has discoloration in spots, it is a good sign that it may be going bad.
About the weight
Pick up the eggplant is consider how it feels vs. what you expected. It should feel heavy for its size. If it feels oddly light in weight, pick a different one. A heavier eggplant will be plump and taste better.
About the firmness
An excellent Japanese eggplant will have a firm feel to it. It shouldn’t be rock hard, but it should be firm. Pick it up and give it a gentle squeeze. I recommend that you do this around the center of the eggplant lengthwise, in the middle.
If it feels soft, pick another one. If the Japanese eggplant feels mushy, it will be bitter and probably go bad quicker than you would like.
Pick up the eggplant is visually inspect it. Does it have any visible bruising? If it does, pick another one.
Does it have any significant cuts or chunks taken out of it? It is usual for the skin to have some light scratches and a few blemishes. If you notice significant cuts or chunks missing, pick another one.
How to Choose a Japanese Eggplant at the Store
If you break it down to these few items, you will pick out the best Japanese eggplant in the store. Feel free to copy and paste this checklist to a notes app on your phone for future reference.
- Choose medium-sized Japanese eggplants for a balanced taste and texture.
- Look for vibrant and glossy dark purple skin, indicating freshness.
- Avoid eggplants with dull or wrinkled skin, as they may be past their prime.
- Gently squeeze the eggplant to check for firmness and slight springiness.
- Avoid eggplants that feel too soft or mushy, as they may be overripe.
- Carefully examine each eggplant for blemishes, bruises, or discoloration.
- Select smooth and unblemished eggplants for the freshest and highest quality.
The bottom line
When picking out a Japanese eggplant, choose one that is vibrant and shiny. It should also be firm and not squishy. Those two tips alone will get you a nice and tasty eggplant.