How to Store Eggplant


Linda asks, “The eggplant seemed fine when I brought it home from the store yesterday, but today when I took it out of the refrigerator, the insides were brown instead of white. Did I do something wrong? Was it a mistake to put eggplant in the refrigerator?”


In Greece, our kitchen garden provides an abundant crop of eggplant, thanks to cousins Effi’s and Nikos’ hard work. When it’s time to cook, I step into the yard and harvest what I need for the day’s meal. Clearly, the best place to store eggplant is on the vine.

Eggplant does not, however, grow in cold climates like Alaska. When I want eggplant here, I have to buy it. By the time it reaches my house, supermarket eggplant has usually passed from the grower to a wholesaler to a shipper to another wholesaler to a retailer to me. Since eggplant is highly perishable and doesn’t store well, it needs to be used within 24 hours of bringing it home from the store.

Yeah, right.  In reality, I may be too busy, or too tired, or just too damn disorganized to immediately use everything I buy at the store or that arrives in my CSA box. For years, I bought eggplant, dutifully put it in the refrigerator with all the other produce, and was unpleasantly surprised when the flesh turned brown and spoiled. I hate to think how many formerly purple beauties went in the garbage before cousin Froso taught me that eggplants and refrigerators don’t mix.

Here’s why: The ideal temperature for storing eggplant is 50° F. If stored at temperatures lower than this, eggplant deteriorates quickly. Since most refrigerators are set between 35° and 38°F, they aren’t a good location for storing eggplants. Room temperature (68° to 70° F) isn’t a good idea either; eggplants perish quickly if kept this warm.

If I can’t use eggplants immediately (which, honestly, I try my hardest to do), I store them in the coolest place available: the dry and well-ventilated garage. To absorb moisture and help prevent spoilage, I put them in paper bags or, wrapped in paper towels, in unsealed plastic bags. Although eggplant may shrivel if kept this way for more than a few days, the flesh stays creamy white and the eggplants generally remain usable.

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Delicious Recipes Using Eggplant:

Eggplant Kebab on Rosemary Skewers

Grilled Eggplant Kebab on Rosemary Skewers

 

 

 

Hünkar Beğendi (Smokey Eggplant Puree with Lamb-Tomato Stew

Smoky Eggplant Puree with Lamb-Tomato Stew (Hünkar Beğendi)

 

 

 

Melitzanosalata (Eggplant and Red Pepper Spread)

Greek Eggplant-Red Pepper Dip (Melitzanosalata)

 

8 Responses to How to Store Eggplant

  1. L efaxaristo poli for passing my blog at least you are the first who is into greek cooking… eggplant papoutsakia… eggplant salad.. am here in florida now am missing athens… thanks for the kerameikos resto have not been there… not just yet

    yasou

  2. You’re very welcome Shalimar. I’ve been reading your various blogs for years and miss your Athens posts. Logia Tis Ploris is a new restaurant and I have no doubt that it will be a success. We ate there two days in a row and would be happy to eat there again and again. It is worth going there for the food alone, but the owners are also very nice and if you order a miso kilo of wine, they keep refilling it without charge — a sign of their wonderful hospitality.

  3. Wow, Laurie, I didn’t realise that eggplant is hard to get in Alaska. It’s my favourite summer vegetable. In any case, I successfully stored eggplant in the following two ways:
    1. Making pastitsio and moussaka, cooking it, then cutting it up into servings and freezing it; no difference in taste when you defrost it and warm it up in a conventional oven (not as delicious when microwaved)
    2. Taking fresh eggplant, shelling it (ridding it of the flesh), and freezing it immediately; I make yemista in the winter with it (without defrosting, just fill the frozen shell with the rice mix), and believe me, it is delicious.
    As we have an excess of eggplant every year in our garden, these are two of the three ways I use them up without throwing them out (the 3rd method is to cook them up for the dog…)

  4. Hi Maria, the problem is that eggplant doesn’t grow in Alaska – the growing season just isn’t long enough. Luckily, we are always in Greece during September, which is the height of eggplant season!
    Your suggestions for long-term storage of eggplants are great, thank you! Does your dog like eating eggplant? He must have a great palate…

    • thomas cappiello says:

      eggplant needs darkness and warmth to grow. It will grow indoors during non-summer months, but it will need supplemental light.One of the hardest things to grow in Ak I think.

  5. PS: I have also roasted eggplant on the grill and then frozen them. The thawed, grilled eggplant are perfect for melitzanosalata.

  6. I came across this article while looking for eggplant recipes. I have found storing eggplant in a wine storage unit is perfect. The usual temperature setting for a wine fridge is 54 degrees. I wrap the eggplant in paper towels and store right next to the wine!

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