Jersey King, Classic and High Bush Select are bell-shaped varieties; Mirabel, Vernal and Mini Fingers are long and slim; Murina, Black Beauty and Italian Pink Bicolor are rounded Sicilian types.
It's a source of folacin and potassium. One serving (3 1/2 ounces or 107 g) contains 28 calories.
Eggplant has been cultivated in India for at least 4,000 years, although it is often thought of as a Mediterranean or mid-Eastern vegetable. Credit for introducing it to North America goes to Thomas Jefferson who imported seeds for his garden some 200 years ago.
Buying and storing
Look for a plump, heavy unwrinkled vegetable that feels quite firm to the touch. It's harvested ripe and best eaten soon after purchase.
It can be stored for a few days, unwrapped, in a refrigerator vegetable crisper at 45°F to 50°F.
Preparing and cooking
Handle gently to avoid bruising and cut just before use to prevent discoloration. (Use a stainless steel knife; carbon knives can cause a bitter aftertaste).
Some cooks recommend lightly salting cut up eggplant and letting it stand for 15 minutes before rinsing, drying and cooking to reduce characteristic bitterness.
Traditional Mediterranean dishes include eggplant parmigiana, ratatouille, moussaka, eggplant stuffed with rice, or hot and sour Spanish eggplant. The vegetable may be broiled, pan-fried or baked along with olive oil, tomatoes, peppers and fresh herbs and spices.
Indian cooks make it into a curry or use it in fritters. Chinese cooks add it to stir-fries.