When it comes to the food you eat, it is recommended to “eat the rainbow” and include natural foods of every color in your diet.
Finding a purple component can be hard, but luckily Mother Nature created the eggplant, a delicious, unique-tasting vegetable.
What is an eggplant?
Eggplants come from the nightshade family and while most are a purple color, there are varieties that have different shades. They have a meaty, spongy texture to them which allows them to pick up the surrounding flavors they are being cooked with.
Eggplants can be roasted and cooked on their own, or added to other dishes such as stews, curries, and pasta.
Do all eggplants taste the same?
While most eggplants have a similar taste to them, they can vary between sweet and sour. Furthermore, while most have a meaty texture to them, some can be a bit mushier.
18 Different Types of Eggplant
When you visit your grocery store, you will see Globe eggplants, also known as American eggplants. They are defined by their deep purple color that is also quite shiny.
Globe eggplants are large in size, and their inside pulp is very versatile. In fact, their texture is sometimes described as quite meaty and therefore can even be used as a protein substitute. Large slices from Globe eggplants are often sued for eggplant lasagna.
If you take Globe eggplants and compact them, you just might find yourself with something that looks like Italian eggplants. With a similar color, this variety is squatter and smaller.
Italian eggplants are also a bit sweeter than typical eggplants but still have a nice, spongy texture to them. They pair really well with salty flavors such as cheese and are perfect in a lasagna.
While they do come from Japan, these eggplants are definitely not limited to Japanese cuisine. Instead, these long, thin eggplants can be used for all sorts of dishes, including stir-fries.
Japanese eggplants have a bright purple color to them and are perfect when sliced into large chunks. They are often cut slightly on an angle but in a whole circle to really show off their delightful color.
While most eggplants are long in shape, Indian eggplants are actually almost round in shape. They are still that lovely, characteristically purple color that we identify with eggplants.
Indian eggplants, because of their shape, are usually cut into cubes or chunks; they are perfect for stir-fries and stews. Also because of their shape, you can stuff Indian eggplants, similar to how you would stuff peppers.
Even though this is definitely a variety of eggplant, Thai Eggplants are quite different than what you would expect. The biggest shock is that they are small and orb-like, and the second discovery is that, while they can be purple, they can also be green.
Thai eggplants have a slightly more bitter taste than other varieties of eggplants, although this can be remedied if you remove their seeds before cooking. They are often paired with curries.
Rosa Bianca Eggplants
While some eggplants have a deep violet color to them, Rosa Bianca eggplants instead have a more subdued, lilac color. They are quite wide but shorter than other varieties.
Rosa Bianca eggplants are not at all bitter, which makes them a favorite among home cooks. They are best grilled or roasted as there is plenty of meat inside these plump eggplants.
Grown in Thailand, Kermit eggplants have a vivid green color to them and are about the size of golf balls. They can also be found in lavender-colored varieties.
Kermit eggplants are often used in curry dishes because their dense flesh won’t fall apart when cooking. In fact, these eggplants are able to soak up plenty of liquid and infuse their meat with the meal’s flavors.
Orient Express Eggplant
Long and slim, Orient Express eggplants have a vivid purple color to them. They are perfect for grilling.
If you are planning on growing this variety in your garden, expect a bit of a waiting period for the seeds to take hold. However, your patience will be paid off as once they start growing, they will be ready quite quickly
Coming from Turkey, Barbarella eggplants are an extremely deep purple color, almost looking like black in certain parts of the day. They are unique in that their texture resembles bread, and can be used as a substitute for those who are gluten-intolerant.
Barbarella eggplants are very versatile. They can be sliced and grilled, or they can be baked and used in dishes such as lasagna or eggplant parmesan.
Turkish Orange Eggplants
When we think of eggplants, we often envision a form of purple coloring. However, with Turkish Orange eggplants, this variety actually better resembles a tomato, thanks to their red-orange hue.
Turkish Orange eggplants have a small, orb shape to them. They are great when grilled and just need a dash of oil and salt to bring out their robust flavor.
Fairy Tale Eggplants
Looking like it has come out of a children’s fairy tale, this type of eggplants has a lovely purple and white mottled color. Fairy Tale eggplants have small white stripes which contrast wonderfully with their deep violet color.
Fairy Tale eggplants are a bit smaller in size than other varieties and are thus best used with grilling or sir-fries. They have a creamy, sweet texture to them that makes them a real showstopper with dinner.
A native of India, Calliope eggplants can now be found around the world although they prefer cooler climates. They are a gorgeous purple color with white streaks and are a bit bulbous in size.
The nice thing about Calliope eggplants is that they still taste delicious whether they are picked as a young plant or fully mature, which gives you more options when growing them.
Ping Tung Eggplants
Mainly grown in Taiwan, Ping Tung eggplants are long and narrow, with a deep purple color to them. Inside, you will find flesh that is nice and sweet and when cooked, becomes very tender.
Ping Tung eggplants don’t have to be peeled, and instead you can enjoy their bright purple color even after they have been cooked. They also aren’t bitter and even kids will enjoy their taste.
As you would expect from their name, White eggplants are completely white, which is not what you would expect from typical eggplants. However, they are the same, long shape as standard American eggplants.
White eggplants even taste the same as what you would expect, with a meaty texture to them. They can be grilled or roasted.
Little Green Eggplants
As their name suggests, Little Green eggplants are both little and green. They have a cute, round shape to them that makes them simply adorable. The only problem is that it can be hard to know when they are ripe, thanks to their color.
Little Green eggplants have a mild flavor that adapts well to what they are being cooked with. Furthermore, they have a creamy texture to them, making them perfect for stir-fries where they are the star of the dish.
A type of Japanese eggplant, Machiaw eggplants are long and thin with a very bright purple color to them. They are distinguished by their thin skin and their relative lack of seeds.
Machiaw eggplants are actually a hybrid variety and while they are usually bright purple, you can find a dark pink color or even a deep violet color.
Some eggplants are small but with Santana eggplants, you’ll be surprised at just how large they are. One eggplant is sure to feed a family for quite a few meals.
Santana eggplants are dark purple in color and have a teardrop shape to them. They are often grilled as the slices don’t split open during cooking and thus retain their shape. Another nice aspect of Santana eggplants is that they don’t have a stringy texture.
While there aren’t many eggplant varieties that are white in color, there are some, such as Tango eggplants. They are a bit long in shape, but can resemble either eggs or pears, depending on how rounded they are.
The one important thing to remember about Tango eggplants is that their peel is not really edible. It is quite thick, so needs to be peeled first; however, the meat inside is nice and creamy.
What is the best tasting eggplant?
Overall, the most common eggplant is the Globe eggplant, mainly because its taste is the perfect mixture of sweet and sour. Furthermore, Globe eggplants have a nice, meaty consistency that isn’t too seedy, so they can be both grilled on their own or cooked with other flavors.
There are many different types of eggplants, ranging from long and thin to small and round. While many are a shade of purple, there are some varieties that are either green or white.
The beauty of eggplants lies in both their coloring and their ability to soak up the flavors they are cooked with.