Learn more about the eggplant and discover its many different types. Find out how the various type looks like, where it came from, and how you can include them in your recipes
Eggplants or aubergines are flowering plants that belong to the nightshade family. Botanically, the eggplant is also considered a berry fruit while culinarily they’re considered a vegetable. It originated in India and has been cultivated in both India and China for over 1500 years.
The earliest written record about the benefits of eggplants existed in the Ayurvedic texts in 100 B.C. Its name came from the 18th-century European cultivars that resembled the goose or hen’s eggs. In Italy, it’s called a “crazy apple” because of the belief that anyone who ate them will go insane.
In China, a woman’s bride price consisted of having at least 12 eggplant recipes before her wedding day. China is the world’s leading eggplant producer accounting to over 60 percent of global production.
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Eggplants Nutrition Facts Chart
Now let’s jump into your eggplant options.
1. African Garden Egg Eggplant
These eggplants are very bitter and very small. More often than not, they are yellow in color and are perfect when chopped up and cooked with various sauces and dishes made of fish, meats, and vegetables. They can be grown in small gardens because of their size and they are especially popular throughout West Africa. In fact, the African Garden Egg eggplant is still grown mostly in West and Central Africa and it both stores and transports very well. They are also very nutritious with very few calories and high amounts of Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and many other nutrients.
2. Bianca Eggplant
With a sweet and creamy taste and texture, these eggplants are large and round with a thin, purple-and-white skin. This is an Italian heirloom variety that is perfect for making eggplant Parmesan or for stuffing and you can find dozens of other recipes for it online.
3. Chinese Round Mauve Eggplant
A Chinese heirloom variety with fruit that is small- to medium-sized, this eggplant is lavender in color and has subtle patterns of purple throughout. Once it gets to the size of a tennis ball, it is ready to eat; since it has very soft skin, there is usually no need to peel it. Much as other types of eggplant, this one is very versatile and can be enjoyed in dozens of recipes, which you can easily find with a quick trip to the Internet.
4. Graffiti Eggplant
With delicate and attractive striped markings, these eggplants can be small or large and are perfect for eating whole. Their seeds are small and their skin is very thin so you don’t even have to peel them if you don’t want to. They are delicious when stewed, baked, and roasted and they come in varieties that include the Purple Rain, Fairytale, and Shooting Stars. The Graffiti eggplant also cooks quickly and is especially tasty when paired with grilled meats and cheeses such as mozzarella and feta.
5. Indian Eggplant
This type of eggplant is small and has a reddish-purple color. Great stuffed or roasted, it is also called the Baby eggplant and it is used frequently in Indian dishes that use curry, among other dishes.
6. Italian Eggplant
The Italian eggplant resembles a standard Globe eggplant but has certain distinguishing characteristics. It is small but still fat and it has very tender flesh. The Italian eggplant is perfect for any Italian recipe that calls for eggplant so research those recipes online and enjoy this scrumptious type of eggplant.
7. Japanese White Egg Eggplant
This is a very hardy and productive type of eggplant and it has thin skin, a nice sweet flavor, and a small egg-like shape and size. With a slender shape and colors that can include not only white but also green, lavender, pink, or purple, the Japanese White Egg eggplant has a stem that is usually dark purple in color. It is very commonly roasted and served as a side dish but it can also be added to Japanese sesame chicken or various types of soups. It is not the same thing as the regular Japanese White eggplant because the latter is closer to a common purple eggplant when it comes to its shape and size.
8. Little Green Eggplant
This eggplant is plump and round and it has a pale green color. When it is cooked, the texture is extra creamy and it has a mild flavor that is perfect for any recipe that calls for standard eggplant.
9. Ping Tung Eggplant
Long and dark purple in color, the Ping Tung eggplant has flesh that is both sweet and tender. Originating in Taiwan, this type of eggplant is popular throughout Asia and if you really want to enjoy its flavor and texture, try grilling it and serving it with a little olive oil and salt. The Ping Tung eggplant also has several unique characteristics. It does not have to be peeled, isn’t bitter in taste, does well in all zones in the United States, and turns darker in color as it matures. Perfect for stir-fry dishes, this type of eggplant grows to roughly 11 inches in length and is very thin, making it perfect for a variety of dishes.
10. Santana Eggplant
If you are into large eggplants, this is the one for you. It is an Italian variety that is teardrop-shaped and dark purple in color. One of the most popular ways to cook the Santana eggplant is to grill it because it isn’t hard or stringy as other varieties are. It also doesn’t split open as quickly as other types, making it perfect for roasting on your grill.
11. Tango Eggplant
The Tango eggplant is a type of white eggplant and can be either pear- or egg-shaped. You have to peel these eggplants because they have a thick skin but they also offer a creamier and firmer texture than the purple varieties of eggplant. When it gets close to harvest time, the Tango eggplant turns yellow and becomes stronger in flavor and firmer in texture.
12. Thai Eggplant
As its name suggests, this type of eggplant comes from Thailand and is consumed more than any other type of eggplant in that country. It is the size of a golf ball and has a slightly bitter taste. In fact, the seeds themselves are so bitter that they are always removed before cooking. Thai eggplant comes in many different colors but most of them are green with either white or yellow stripes.
Because of their unique taste, Thai eggplants are usually diced or cubed and added to hot curry dishes. Varieties include the Yellow Egg eggplant, which is a solid yellow color, and the Thai Long Green eggplant, which is light green in color and very long in size. They can also come in white and purple.