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When Is An Eggplant Ripe? Two Ways To Know

Eggplant Ripe

So, when is an eggplant ripe. I remember as a child learning this very important lesson growing up on our farm.

My parents were very adept at growing eggplants. As Italian immigrants, the eggplant was a staple part of their diet and my mom knew how to prepare the best tasting eggplants on the planet.

But before she could, she had to know how to tell when an eggplant was ripe.

I remember walking up and down the rows of eggplants in our massive garden as a child wondering why some were brown and some were black.

I asked my mom when is an eggplant ripe? Is it when it turns black? And she showed me a simple way she distinguished the ripe eggplants from those not quite ready to be picked.

She simply held the eggplant gently without breaking it from the plant. She then gave it a slight squeeze. If the skin bounced back to where it was before she squeezed it it was ready. If it didn’t, then it wasn’t ready to be picked.

For those of you who buy your eggplants at the supermarket this is something you can try.

I would advise against pressing or squeezing too hard. Just a light and gentle squeeze should be enough and you’ll be able to choose those eggplants with expertise.

This is a simple technique I was taught a long time ago and it’s something that has stuck with me. Next is a more extensive method to determine ripe eggplants from unripe fruit.

When Is An Eggplant Ripe? 2 Steps To Choosing Ripe Fruit

external indicators of riper eggplants
An eggplant plantation field…

Yes, the eggplant is technically a fruit although many will confuse it as being a vegetable. Very simply, because they spring from flowering plants they are considered a fruit.

But how to tell when an eggplant is ripe in more detail. Here are two simple steps that will have you picking only the required and ready eggplants every time.

These can usually be used on their own but I wanted to combine the four tips together so you can have a back up as a form of confirmation.

1. My mom would always check the stem of the eggplant. She would like to see a healthy green color before she decided to pick it. If the stem was an ugly brown color then she would dismiss it as being just a little too ripe and pick it off the plant to put it aside for possible seed harvest. Eggplants that are too ripe can be extremely bitter.

2. As a backup. mom would use the method above by gently putting the eggplant on her hand while still on the plant and squeezing gently. If it bounced back it was good to go. If not, it still needed more time to ripe. My mother had a subtle sarcastic sense of humor and would often compare those whose skin didn’t bounce back, as similar to her skin. Basically she used herself to make “an old joke”.

That’s basically it.

How Do You Know If An Eggplant Is Healthy?

techniques for picking the right eggplants
An eggplant seedling ready to be planted…

Choosing eggplants at the supermarket also requires further examination.

For example, eggplants can bruises fairly easily and while bruises are hard to see on their dark skin, soft spots on the fruit are usually a good giveaway that bruising is present.

Indications of scarring on fruit could also mean that the fruit’s flesh may be damaged.

I would avoid it and let someone who works at the store and is nearby know just so someone else doesn’t end up with it.

Because of their dark color, eggplants can be deceptive to the inexperienced eye and many people will get home only to discover their fruit is damaged. Bruising and scarring are two giveaways that you should avoid them for consumption.

If you are thinking of planting an eggplant or two, then a damaged one can be a handy supply of seeds for you.

Can Eggplants Be Refrigerated?

vegetable ripeningYes, eggplants can be refrigerated and should be once you get them home.

Refrigerating eggplants is a natural action from people when they either buy them from the store or pick them from their garden.

As a rule, eggplants are good short term storage candidates. In other words, they are not conducive to being stored for extended periods.

But you can prolong their life slightly by refrigerating them although not in extreme cold.

It always amazes me that some fruit and vegetables will handle summer heat well while others don’t. An eggplant once ripe, can deteriorate quickly.

So as a general rule, they like a storage environment that is cool and dry but not too cold and will usually remain viable for up to three days outside the fridge. After that, they are probably on the verge of “heading to decay city”.

Eggplants can last up to two weeks in a refrigerator although it’s advisable to eat them within several days. Personally, I wouldn’t store them for more than three to five days and for my liking, eggplants are one of those fruits or vegetables you earmark to be eaten quickly.

One caveat is that eggplants don’t really like cold temperatures. In other words, if they are stored in temperatures below 41-45 degrees Fahrenheit they can react by developing surface scarring and begin to decay.

One more thing…avoid putting an eggplant in the same area as other fruits and vegetables. They aren’t very sociable and can react to the extent of decaying as a reaction. Apples can be their worst enemy. Likewise, tomatoes don’t play nice being near eggplants. So keep them apart.

Conclusion: When Is An Eggplant Ripe?

is there a way to tell if an eggplant is ripeIn conclusion, eggplants are ready to be harvested when they are firm and have a uniform deep purple or black color.

They should also be free from bruises, blemishes, and other signs of damage. Gardeners should keep these guidelines in mind when harvesting eggplants so that they can enjoy this delicious vegetable at its peak flavor.

And shoppers also need to remember these guidelines where they are at the store.

Eggplants can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks but personally, I would try to prepare and consume them within the first week.

So while it’s a big fruit, the eggplant can be a little precious. However, they are delicious when prepared right and we’ll be providing my mom’s famous eggplant stuffing recipe in the future. Actually, the stuffing can also be used on large bell peppers.

When Are Eggplants Ripe
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JD Dean

Growing up on a farm gave me and my family some huge advantages. One of them was learning to grow our own food. Apart from acres and acres of crops, we had a magnificent fruit and vegetable garden plus, we canned our own food. I’m hoping to pass on some of this expertise and experience to you.

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