20 Types of Eggplant | A Detailed Look At All Varieties
Eggplant, also known as aubergine or brinjal is a nightshade family plant characterized by its egg shape, glossy purple whitish flesh. The plant species is believed to have originated from East Asia where evidence of its cultivation has been found and is estimated to have been initially grown in India. The Arabs are believed to have introduced it to the rest of the middle east and the Mediterranean area in the early middle ages.
Eggplants are commonly referred to as vegetables, which is another common mistake that its close cousin, the tomato fruit also endures. In fact, eggplants are berries by botanical definition and are closely related to other members of the Solanum family such as tomatoes and potatoes. Eggplants, however, lack the nutritional value associated with tomatoes. They are actually loved due to their spongy and absorbent flesh which comes in handy in many cuisines as they absorb the extra oil and flavors through cooking. There are many eggplant varieties, today we will explore 20 variations.
20 Types of Eggplant
1. Listada de Gandia
Our favorite recipe here by Mother Earth News.
Listada de Gandia is an Italian eggplant best known for its succulent milky white skin with lavender and purple hue. This eggplant takes around 80-90 days to grow and can survive even in the summer heat as well as low rainfall conditions.
The plant itself is a heavy producer and grows to about 16-inch-tall and produces 7-inch-long teardrop-shaped fruits. Listada de Gandia is a culinary delight and does not require to be pilled. Aside from its exquisite taste, this ‘vegetable’ also contains antioxidants such as nasunin which plays a vital role in promoting a healthy immune system.
2. Rosa Bianca
Our favorite recipe here by White on Rice Couple.
This light pink-lavender eggplant with light purple colors is treasured for its rich, mild taste, making it a favorite among chefs and growers alike. The fruit’s skin lacks any bitter taste and can, therefore, be cooked without peeling. Like other fast-growing heirlooms, this eggplant matures in under three months with plump round fruits with noticeable stripes.
They can be used as a condiment when preparing vegetable dishes, or it can be cooked on its own. Due to its sweet and fleshy interior, this eggplant is especially recommended for grilling. This gives the fruit a slightly crispy outer surface while encasing the creamy interior flesh.
3. Fairy Tale
Our favorite recipe here by The Kitchn.
With its miniature form as well as gorgeous violet whitish skin, fairy tale eggplant is just as sweet as it sounds. This heirloom has fewer seeds and an even thinner skin thus far less bitter taste. The variety is fast growing and hits the markets in the first weeks of summer and is readily available through late fall. Import varieties are also available all year round but make sure that you go for fresh ones as they usually pack better taste as well as nutritional benefits.
Due to their miniature size, these eggplants are best cooked in halves, simply cut them diagonally into equal halves and proceed to prepare your favorite recipe. This allows them to cook through without losing the fleshy inner part.
Our favorite recipe here by Erica Demane
Another miniature Italian eggplant; Prospera variety is best known for its striking rich purple hue with just a touch of cream peeking at the stem end. This variety is best recommended for gourmet dishes due to its meaty and succulent flesh. Unlike other eggplants, it’s hard to overcook prosperas, so you no longer have to worry about ending up with mushy results.
When preparing these eggplants its recommended to slice them in a crisscross design without digging into the skin. This allows them to cook thoroughly without separating the skin, which would otherwise end up sticking out.
5. Ping Tung Long
This variety is named after its city of origin in Taiwan. Unlike other variety it is a rather skinny eggplant and can at times grow up to a foot long. The best way to enjoy this eggplant is by slicing it into rounds and leave the skin on. The fleshy parts will readily absorb flavors evenly even while stir-fried or braised.
Ping Tung Long are best recognized for their mild flavor without any bitterness and will go along well with your sautéed vegetable dishes. Want to get an extra flavor kick? Season them with chili sauce.
Image from @incredibleseeds Instagram
Our favorite recipe here by Martha Stewart.
Beatrice eggplants are actually an Italian eggplant with a dark purple color. This variety packs quite a mild and creamy taste and is best grilled or roasted. Beatrice is a close cousin of Rosa Bianca heirloom but with a more robust growth hence the bigger fruit size.
During the preparation stage, you should remove the seeds and salt the fruit followed by at least 1hour of blotting to enhance the taste as well as texture. This variety can also be pureed into a dip such as baba ganoush. Simply put, there's no limit to the applications of this eggplant.
Image from @kegbueno Instagram
Our favorite recipe here by My Taste Us.
Calliope variety originated from India and is best described as an elegant eggplant with a purple skin coupled with whitish streaks. Not only is it very flavorful but it’s also tender and can be harvested as baby eggplants while still 2 inches (5cm) long. Alternatively, the fruit can be consumed while mature, but you will have to deseed it to maintain an excellent flavor.
Calliopes usually mature within 70 days, but this gives them a somewhat bitter taste, especially the skin and seeds, hence the need to harvest them as baby eggplants. Baby eggplants, on the other hand, are slightly succulent, making them hard to grill. Instead, pressure cooking the eggplant ensures that they maintain their texture and gives them a great flavor.
Our favorite recipe here by Food Network.
Meet Nadia a traditional Italian heirloom with the characteristic dark purple almost black skin. This fruit has a glossy almost blemish-free skin and can grow to be up to 7 inches (17cm) long with a teardrop shape. This variety has a thin skin and finer flesh, meaning you don’t have to peel them before cooking.
One of the main reasons why eggplants are regarded as the healthiest fruit is due to their low-fat count and Nadia is no exemption, this variety has 0.1g of fats for every 100g serving.
9. Orient Express
Our favorite recipe here by Just Picked.
Orient express is originally from Japan and features slender, glossy fruits that can grow up to 10 inches (25cm) long. The eggplant is dark purple with an almost black hue. While the majority of the eggplants grow around summertime, this variety can set even in late summer when the temperatures are low.
There’s no shortage in the number of ways you can prepare this eggplant; grilled, baked or even canned it will go well with any meal. The inner white flesh is quite flavorful, and you don’t have to peel the skin as it doesn’t contain any bitterness.
Our favorite recipe here by Just Picked.
Kermit is a Thai eggplant variety with miniature fruits which can easily be mistaken for mutant figs. However, the eggplant has white-pink flesh making it easy to identify; the flesh actually maintains its shape during cooking while still absorbing those flavors we all enjoy. The skin remains greenish through maturity, although the lower parts do develop some whitish streaks.
Kermits are best grilled or roasted, to do so simply toss the quartered pieces in curry sauce and grill until the skin turns brownish. While the eggplant can go well with about any other eggplant recipe, it matches perfectly with Thai traditional cuisine such as fish sauce making it a perfect pick for any pantry.
Image from @binas_food Instagram
Our favorite recipe here by Martha Stewart.
Nubia eggplants are characterized by the skin being purple and white. Depending on the heirloom as well as weather condition, this variety can grow from 4 inches and even up to 8 inches (10-20cm) long. The fruit is easily identified thanks to its pear shape.
When preparing Nubia eggplants, you will have to peel the mature ones as the skin does grow thick and rubbery. However, when dealing with baby eggplants, that will not be necessary. Can’t get more recipes? Worry not, this eggplant entirely replaces any other Italian varieties in their recipes.
12. Orient Charm
Our favorite recipe here by Omnivores Cookbook.
Not to be mistaken with its close cousin the Orient Express, Orient charm features a pale purple hue; almost pastel like. This variety also grows up to 9 inches (22cm) but has a somewhat curved shape with a slim upper part. Orient charm is also delicately flavored and is nearly seed-free, making it perfect for soups.
When it comes to its preparation, this eggplant is best sliced into even rounds which are easy to grill, stir-fry or even roast. Pairing it with a garlic and ginger sauce brings out its delicate flavors.
Our favorite recipe here by Whole Food Republic.
Meet Barbarella, an Italian heirloom, believed to be a native to the island of Sicily. This eggplant is medium sized measuring about 4 to 6 inches (10-15cm) long. Its unique squat shape with slightly grooved sides makes it easily identifiable from other Italian varieties. Barbarella has an outer skin with glossy and deep purple hue. The inner flesh is dense with a creamy white color and numerous small seeds.
Barbarella eggplants have a mild nutty flavor with a slight sweetness, making them perfect for an array of cuisines from French to Chinese. This variety can be stuffed with rice or meats and even baking thanks to its rounded shape. You can also roast it and use the flesh to prepare baba ghanoush or chutney.
Image from @fivehandsfarm Instagram
14. Green Doll
Our favorite recipe here by The Daily Meal.
With its elongated egg shape, smooth white skin with green stripes running from the calyx all the way to the middle, the green doll is quite an exquisite eggplant. Its flesh ranges from pale green to white and has multiple small brown seeds. Green dolls are natively Thai and have a firm and crunchy texture with a slightly bitter taste.
During their early stages before maturity, green dolls can be consumed raw in salads and chili sauces. However, after maturity, the seeds become bitter, and its recommended to remove them before cooking. You can stuff or batter green dolls and fry them to get that crispy flavor. Green dolls also pair excellently with rice dishes, curry and potatoes, simply dice them and have them stir-fried.
Our favorite recipe here by Eating Asia.
The hairy eggplant traces its origins from the West Indies and over time got naturalized throughout most of southern Asia. This eggplant is slightly small, measuring only 0.3 to 0.7 inches (1-2cm) in diameter. Its outer skin is covered by a fine layer of prickly hair and has a yellowish hue when ripe. Hairy eggplants have a distinctive tangy almost floral taste and a crunchy texture.
Hairy eggplants can be cooked or consumed raw, during the preparation stage the hairy layer has to be shaved off. In their raw state, hairy eggplants are consumed as an appetizer or snack. Ripe varieties can be sliced and squeezed to extract the inner pulp, which is a great finishing condiment for Thai dishes.
Our favorite recipe here by Tigers and Strawberries.
While the name might suggest that they originated from turkey, Turkish eggplants are actually native to Africa and are believed to have spread to Europe during the slave trade. Turkish eggplants are small averaging 2 inches (6cm) in diameter with a globular shape. During their younger stages, these eggplants have smooth green skin which later on matures to orange with red striations.
This eggplant is best consumed when mature as it will develop a bitter flavor when the seeds mature. Turkish eggplants are best grilled, sauntered, baked or pureed. When harvested young they can be used in curries and stews thanks to the sweet and tender flavors.
Our favorite recipe here by Thai Table.
Cluster eggplants are tiny fruits arranged in clusters of 10 to 20 small, round pea-sized fruits each about 0.3 inches (1cm) in diameter. These eggplants grow in shrubs that can reach up to 15 feet tall. These fruits have a wide range of flavor depending on the maturity ranging from bitter to tart and have an exceptionally crunchy texture.
Cluster eggplants can be cooked or eaten raw. In Thailand fresh cluster eggplants are used in the preparation of a chili and shrimp paste blend commonly referred to as Nam prik kapee. To reduce the bitterness its advisable to boil the fruits briefly before cooking. Cluster eggplants match perfectly with mint, rice, yams, and even poultry.
Our favorite recipe here by Healthy Kids.
Kamo eggplants are easily identified thanks to their round and flat bottoms. This fruit averages 4 inches (10cm) in diameter and has a slight tapering towards the calyx. The outer skin is thin with a purple-black hue and turns glossy as the fruit matures. Kamo fruits have dense cream-colored flesh with a few tiny seeds that are also edible.
Kamo eggplants are initially from Japan and hold significant cultural value, especially in Kyoto, where they were used in Kyo-yasai. This fruit is best suited for grilling, deep frying, baking and boiling all depending on the recipe of your choice. They also pair well with soy sauce and ginger soup.
Our favorite recipe here by The Mediterranean Dish.
Onaga represents one of the longest eggplant varieties out there; individual fruits can grow up to 23 inches (60cm) long. The fruits have a unique uniformly sized shape that tapers off to the end. This fruit has a dark purple skin that’s firm and glossy. The seeds are barely noticeable but will develop a bitter taste when they mature, making it best to consume the fruit during its early stages before it fully matures.
Onaga eggplants are best suited for braising, deep frying, stuffing, and stewing. During preparation, its recommended to carrying out a unique process called degorging. This involves rinsing, salting, and drying the sliced onaga. This gets lid of the bitter flavor and excess fat that may have been absorbed during cooking.
Our favorite recipe here by Cook in Canuck.
This variety has a smooth, bright white coat with a bulbous end which tapers off to a green calyx. This eggplant is slightly curved with an oblong shape and can grow up to 6 inches (17cm) long. When cooked, white eggplants are creamy with a mild, slightly sweet flavor.
There’s no shortage in terms of the preparation methods. From sautéing to pan frying, grilling, baking, and even deep frying. However, because their skins are much firmer compared to purple varieties, its advisable to peel off the skin before cooking white eggplant.
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