Eggplant is a delicious, versatile food. It can be the star of a dish or simply act as a strong supporting character. In any event, it only makes sense that many people would want to keep eggplant stored in their fridge to use in a future meal.
The problem is that eggplant can oxidize in the fridge and go bad. This can happen especially quick when the purple skin has been cut or punctured. They are very similar to apples in the way they begin to brown when they have air exposure.
Initially, the discoloration has no impact on the overall taste of your eggplant. Still, it can be very unappetizing to look at it. Thankfully, there are ways you can delay or even prevent the browning discoloration from happening.
Storing Cut Eggplant
After you have cut up the eggplant, presumably to use it in a meal and having some leftover or preparing for a future dish, you should place it into a glass container. From there, you will need to drizzle some lemon juice over each of the pieces. It is important that you use enough to coat every piece of the eggplant, but not too much so that there will be a pool of juice sitting at the bottom of the container.
A good rule of thumb when drizzling lemon over the eggplant is to use around two tablespoons of lemon juice for each medium-sized eggplant that you have cut up. When you have covered all of it properly, grab your lid and place it securely over the top of the container.
From here, you can either flip your container upside down or shake it up gently a couple of times. This will evenly coat your eggplant in the aforementioned lemon juice. If you can, use the eggplant sooner rather than later; two or three days at the most.
If you don’t plan to use the eggplant within the same day, make sure you refrigerate it immediately. Leaving the eggplant out for a few hours can start the browning process, making it less than appetizing.
As mentioned previously, oxidation will cause the cut eggplant to begin browning shortly after it has been cut. If you want to prevent this from happening, there is a method you can use. Keep in mind that this will prolong the browning, but you should still use the eggplant sooner rather than later.
Before you cut the eggplant, get a bowl of water ready. Then, add a tablespoon of milk to your water and drop in the eggplant as soon as you cut it. This should prevent browning or blackening of the eggplant for a little longer than it would on its own.
You can also slow down oxidation by adding lemon to the bowl of water instead of milk. Dip your eggplant into your lemon/water mixture to help keep the browning/blackening at bay.
Picking a Good Eggplant
Like any other kind of vegetable, you will want to make sure you choose a good eggplant before cutting. There are tips to get the best taste and vale out of your eggplant.
The first is that you want the eggplant to be firm, but it should not be hard. The purple outside layer should be shiny and smooth in texture. Should the skin not have that sheen, looking dull instead, it may not be the best eggplant that you can use. Double check your eggplant to make sure there are no soft spots or browning occurring.
Take a look at the stem, too. A good quality eggplant should have a stem that is a nice, healthy-looking green. One way to tell that an eggplant is particularly fresh is to check to see if the stem is moldy or mushy. If it is, move on to another eggplant.
After you have picked out your eggplant and brought it home, do not completely wrap it in plastic. Also, keep in mind that the bigger eggplants tend to have more seeds and will have a more bitter taste. You want to go with smaller eggplants, though there are some eggplant experts that will argue that the size is not the important factor.
Those experts have said that the skin and firmness of the eggplant are the most telling signs of quality. Look for the traits listed above, and you should have a quality eggplant to enjoy for your meal.
Once home, eggplant can actually be left at room temperature for around a day or so. If you aren’t using it, though, the best idea is to store it in the fridge. Like lettuce, you likely will not get more than a week out of it.
There are some that will say that a perforated plastic bag is a good way to store eggplants in the fridge. You can also puree any leftover eggplant and store it in the freezer with just a splash of lemon juice for future use. Of course, you can also blanche it before freezing; this will allow you to freeze it for as long as eight months in some cases.
What you may not have realized is that there are male and female eggplants. The rule seems to be that the fewer the seeds means that you have a male eggplant. Another good tip is to check the bottom of the eggplant and look for a brown circle. A female eggplant will have a brown mark, but it will be longer and not round.
Lastly, when you are choosing an eggplant, you will want to look for rounded, plumper eggplants. These tend to be a bit more juicy and will also be better when it comes to making casseroles and baking in general. The longer, slender ones won’t be quite as juicy but are still quite good when they are fried.
Storing Eggplant at Room Temperature
If you plan to use the eggplant within a day or so and don’t want to keep it in the fridge, you can keep it stored at room temperature. First, place the entire eggplant into a paper bag. Don’t cut it before you store it; again, oxidation is the fastest way toward browning and spoiling. Loosely wrap the eggplant in some paper; you don’t need to even tie the bag shut.
The idea of the paper bag is that it will absorb the moisture in the eggplant. Experts will not recommend storing eggplant in sealed plastic because it retains the moisture and it has poor air circulation. Those are things that will make your eggplant spoil quicker.
Don’t have any paper bags? You can wrap your eggplant in some paper towels and then place the entire concoction into a vented bowl or an unsealed plastic bag. Even better, you can keep multiple eggplants stored together at one time. Just make sure they don’t touch; you want the moisture to escape. If you are using paper towels, you can combat this by wrapping each eggplant on its own.
When you store your eggplants, you need to make sure they stay in relatively neutral temperatures. They don’t do well with extreme heat or cold. Also, keep it out of direct sunlight, too. Try a pantry or kitchen cupboard.
If you plan to use your eggplant within a day or so, it is probably better to not store it in the refrigerator. This is because the fridge can get too cold and cause the eggplant to spoil sooner than it may have if left at room temperature.
If your kitchen is quite warm, though, you will want to store it in a dark, dry place. Try a basement, cellar, or garage that has good ventilation. Again, this is if you plan to use your eggplant within a day or so.
Keep it Away From Fruits
Ethylene is a gas that most fruits will give off. This includes tomatoes, bananas, apples, and melons. Like lettuce, eggplant is sensitive to this ethylene gas. If you store eggplant in the fridge near fruits, that is a good way to accelerate the browning rate of your eggplant.
When you are storing the eggplant in the fridge, try to keep it away from any fruits. The same goes for storing it on a countertop, too. That ethylene gas will make it spoil quicker and can be easily avoided.
For stored eggplants, make sure you use them within three days. Fresh eggplant will last maybe two days at the most at room temperature. The best time to use it is when the eggplant begins to feel ripe when you touch it. Press down on the skin, it should leave a mark, telling you that the eggplant is ready.
For the absolute best flavor and texture when using the eggplant, use it within the first 24 hours of purchasing of it. With how quickly eggplant can spoil, using it before it has a chance to oxidize is the best bet.