The most popular eggplant sold in theUnited States is the dark purple globe eggplant, which ranges from 1 to 5 pounds. In fact, this variety is often called American eggplant. These eggplants come in two basic shapes, squat and tear-shaped, with the bottom wider than the top.
But there are many other types of eggplant in a multitude of shapes, sizes, and colors, including some highly unusual “heirloom” varieties that are bright orange. American, Chinese, Japanese, and Thai eggplants are available year round, but some of the more exotic “heirloom” eggplants are only available in the fall and early winter.
Here are some varieties of eggplant you may find in stores or farmers’ markets.
- Baby eggplants: These are small, young eggplants in the shape of a tennis ball. They can be from a number of different varieties and come in a number of colors, including purple, violet, white, and canary yellow.
- Chinese eggplants: Long and slim, these eggplants are distinguished by their pale purple skin. The flesh is soft and white. Some examples of Chinese eggplant can be quite long and crooked.
- Graffiti eggplants: These eggplants come in both purple and white varieties and have a shape similar to the standard American globe eggplant. The purple graffiti is covered with white striations (and looks like a huge cranberry bean). The white version has very pale purple striations. Its creamy flesh becomes rich and fruity when cooked.
- Green Goddess eggplants: This hybrid eggplant is elongated in shape with unusually pale green skin. It has a very mild flavor.
- Italian eggplants: These eggplants resemble a scaled-down version of the large purple American eggplant. A true Italian eggplant has a finer flesh and a thinner skin than conventional purple eggplants, though in some markets, it is simply the size of the eggplant that prompts the use of the market term “Italian eggplant.”
- Japanese eggplants: These eggplants are long and narrow, with a much darker purple skin, although there is also a white variety of Japanese eggplant. Its flesh is sweeter and less astringent than American eggplant.
- Rosa Bianco eggplants: This Italian heirloom variety is a squat, violet eggplant tinged with white. Like other Italian eggplants, its flesh is creamier than that of American eggplants.
- Thai eggplants: These small, round, firm eggplants are green-and-white striped and are usually a little bit bigger than a golf ball. The skin is thin and covers creamy-white flesh that has a subtle flavor and soft texture. The seeds tend to be bitter and should be removed.
- Tiger eggplants: These small spherical eggplants have orange and green skin, with occasional dark vertical stripes (hence the name tiger). The flesh is ivory-white and the flavor delicate.
- White eggplants: Increasingly, you will find these smooth-skinned, ivory-white eggplants sold in supermarkets. Their shape and size are similar to American eggplants, but they have firmer, moister flesh. Some varieties include Cloud Nine, Casper, and Ghostbuster. When cooked, white eggplant has a fruity and mild flavor, and meltingly smooth texture.