Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and is related to tomatoes and potatoes. It is identifiable by its deep purple colouring and elongated egg shape and is a good source of iron, fibre, protein, and potassium. It can be used as a substitute for meat in a variety of recipes. When selecting one at your local grocery store or farmers market, you must know how to differentiate between one that is fresh and one that has begun to rot. This is equally important if you have an unused one at home as they have a short shelf life.
Pick up the eggplant and check the weight of it in your hand. A rotten one will feel lighter in weight than one that is fresh, which will have a heavy feel. For comparison pick up and judge the weight of two or three same-sized eggplants.
Look at it from all angles. Confirm that the skin is shiny and rich in colour. Check for bruising, brown patches or other obvious signs of decay. Wrinkled areas and loose, sagging skin are also indications that rotting has begun. Avoid it also if it is dull in appearance or the colour is faded.
Turn the eggplant so that you are looking at its cap and stem. Check the appearance of the cap and stem. A fresh cap is green and may have small spikes around the stem. One that is potentially rotten will have a discoloured, mouldy or decaying cap or stem.
Hold the eggplant in one hand and use your fingers or the thumb of your opposite hand to press down gently. Look for a soft feeling as you press or an indention that lingers after you have tested it. If there are areas of softness this is an indication that it is rotting beneath that area and it should not be purchased.
Cut into the fruit if you are judging an eggplant that you have already purchased. Look at the appearance and feel of the meat or flesh. It should be a creamy white inside and spongy to the touch. If it is discoloured or mushy it is overly ripe or has begun to rot. Check that the seeds appear healthy and white; there should be no indication of mould or brown discolouration of the seeds.
Lift the sliced eggplant to your nose and smell it. If it has a strong or foul odour it is likely rotten.