Eggplants are tender, mildly earthy, sweet vegetable-fruits covered with tough, shiny skin, which may be peeled or left unpeeled in grilled or long-cooked dishes. They vary in color from the familiar purple to red and from yellow to white. The most common variety is the large, purple globe eggplant, but many markets also carry the slender, purple Asian eggplant, which is more tender and has fewer, smaller seeds. When cooked, all eggplants have a mild flavor and tender, creamy flesh. Look for plump, glossy, heavy eggplants with taut skin and no bruises or scratches. Refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 2 days. Eggplants are also known as aubergine and in Italy as melanzana.
For other eggplant varieties, see Chinese eggplants and Japanese eggplants.