In Europe, they call it aubergines. In India, they call it brinjals. These are delicate round, long and skinny, or pear gated purple vegetables popularly known as the eggplants from the nightshade family. Sounds cool, ay?
Eggplants are delicate fleshy vegetables used to make different tasty cuisines. You can just do a lot with eggplants: stew it, bread and fry it, stuff it, mash them for salad dips, cook them with parmesan cheese, toss it in your favorite pasta dish. What’s more? They’re used in ratatouille too! (You probably saw the movie Ratatouille, right?). Nutritionally, eggplants are good sources of dietary fiber, vitamin B6 as well as manganese.
Although they taste fantastic in different dishes, are you aware that they only have a short shelf life? It’s sad to know that they cannot last long in storage.
In this post, you will discover how long exactly eggplants can last, how to store and preserve them, and how to tell if they are not suitable for consumption anymore. Read and find out.
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How to store eggplants?
Eggplants are perishable vegetables. Since you cannot always know when these eggplants on-displayed at the grocery store were harvested, so you have to inspect the freshness of these vegetables before you add it to your grocery cart. Just make sure to pick the ones that have a firm texture and the ones that are free from cuts and bruises.
Take note that eggplants do not do well in hot or cold temperatures. You must see to it that you store them in a climate-controlled environment to preserve its freshness. See the storage techniques for eggplants listed below:
Storing eggplant at room temperature
- Keep the eggplant in a paper bag. Place all of your eggplants inside the paper bag as this absorbs moisture. Just wrap it loosely around your vegetable, and you do not have to tie the bag. If you are keeping the whole eggplant, don’t cut it yet if you plan to store it for days. Cutting it will only spoil your eggplants faster. Use paper towels and wrap your eggplants individually just in case you don’t have some paper bags and place them inside an unsealed plastic or vented bowl. It is not advisable to store the eggplants inside a sealed plastic bag as this will only provide poor air circulation. As a result, your eggplant will just spoil faster.
- Eggplants are actually a delicate vegetable that is sensitive to both extreme hot and cold temperatures. It is best to provide your eggplants in a storage area where the temperature is between 50 and 54 °F or 10 to 12 °C. A cool, dry place like your pantry is the vegetable’s ideal storage area. Refrigerators can be too cold for them, and in the kitchen during the summer season, they may also be too hot for them. Others would suggest keeping eggplants in a dry, well-ventilated cellar, garage, or basement if your kitchen is too warm for storage.
- Make sure to keep your eggplants away from direct sunlight.
- Keep eggplants away from ethylene-producing fruits or vegetables. Eggplants ripen faster if they are stored together with ethylene-producing produce. Ethylene is a gas that accelerates the ripening process of a fruit or vegetable. The ethylene-producing fruits involve apples, avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, kiwi, peaches, pears, peppers, and tomatoes. For ethylene-producing vegetables, they include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, and cauliflower.
Storing eggplants in the refrigerator.
- Wrap eggplants in paper towels or in an unsealed bag. Wrap all of your eggplants loosely using paper towels as this absorbs moisture and prevents it from reaching the eggplants. You may also store the eggplants in an open paper bag or in a perforated plastic bag. Never seal the bag or container to provide the vegetable with good airflow to hold its freshness for a longer time.
- Store your eggplants in the warmest part of your fridge. Keep the eggplants in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. The crisper drawer helps prevent moisture and controls humidity in order for any produce to last fresh for a longer time. Well, it is not wrong to store your eggplants in the refrigerator, though. However, your vegetable may not last long as it would if you put it in the crisper. The shelf door is also a warmer part of your refrigerator. You can place them there if you see it fit.
- Remove ethylene-producing items stored in the crisper. As mentioned earlier, ethylene-producing fruits or vegetables can ripen your eggplants prematurely. So, you have to keep them away if you have eggplants in the crisper.
Storing eggplants in the freezer
For long-term storage, freezing the eggplants is a good idea. Ripened eggplants are suitable for freezing. Notably, the black varieties can hold up well in the freezer compared to the purple Chinese and Thai types. Before you toss the eggplants into the freezer, you have to blanch them first! Blanching the eggplants is a quick-cooking method to eliminate enzymes that destroy the eggplants’ flavor and texture when frozen. If you don’t blanch the eggplant before freezing, you’ll have a mushy vegetable.
Here’s what you have to do first before storing your eggplants in the freezer:
- Wash the eggplants properly under cold water to remove any dirt on it.
- Lay the vegetable on the cutting board, then cut off both ends of the eggplant.
- Peel the skin off the eggplant using a vegetable peeler. Actually, you can skip this part and just peel the eggplant after blanching it. Sometimes, some people need to peel the eggplants, especially the large ones, since its skin tends to get tough, and it somehow makes some dishes less desirable to eat.
- Then, slice the eggplant in small horizontal cuts. Make sure to use a clean knife before slicing them.
- Prepare a boiling mixture of water and lemon juice. Make sure your water in the pot is good enough to submerge your eggplant slices. As for the
- Prepare a boiling mixture of water and lemon juice on the stove. Fill a large pot about ⅔ of the way full with water. Your water should be deep enough to submerge all of the eggplant slices you wish to preserve. For every gallon of water, add ½ cup of lemon juice. Well, it is not necessary to put lemon juice, though. You can blanch the eggplants with just plain boiling water. Adding lemon juice into your oiling water will prevent your eggplants from discoloration during blanching and storage.
- Add the sliced eggplants into the boiling water and let it cook for 4 minutes. You may set a timer for this too. Ensure you have already prepared a basin or a big bowl of iced cold water for the next step. After the timer ends, scoop everything out with a slotted spoon.
- Your eggplants must be rapidly cooled after blanching. So, waste no time and transfer your blanched eggplants immediately into your bowl of ice water and let our eggplants cool down for five minutes. Doing this prevents your eggplants from overcooking.
- After that, drain the water and pat dry the eggplant sliced with clean paper towels.
- Put your cooked eggplants in resealable freezer-safe bags and leave about a half-inch space at the top part of your bag for expansion. Remove all the air out before sealing it. If you have a vacuum sealer, it would be great to help suk the air out of it. Label your eggplant packs with today’s date.
In thawing your eggplants, just take out what you need and leave it on your kitchen countertop until it softens. Or, may not have to wait for it to thaw as you can directly toss them while still frozen into the dish while cooking.
Other ways of preserving eggplants:
- Dehydration. Have you ever tried an eggplant jerky? Or eggplant bacon, perhaps? Chop or slice the eggplants to your desired shape and then blanch them for a minute. Pat them dry using a paper towel after cooling it in a bowl of ice-cold water. Lay the eggplants on a tray in a single layer, then dry them under the sun or in a dehydrator or oven. Or, you can opt to salt and cure the eggplants as well. After dehydrating the eggplants, store them in an airtight container.
- Pickling. Pickled eggplants become tastier because of its absorbent texture. Actually, this product is quite famous in Italy, which is known as melanzane sott’aceto. You will just have to store them in a sterilized mason jar with a brine solution in pickling eggplants. And, you can preserve them in olive oil and other seasonings.
Can it go bad?
As mentioned earlier, these delicate eggplants are perishable as they are sensitive to extreme temperatures. Also, they just have a short shelf life even if you only store them properly at room temperature, and its color and texture change quickly. As many say, it is best to use the eggplants right away if you are after for its best texture and flavor and not let it stay for a long time. Bear in mind: the moment the eggplants are harvested, that is also the beginning for it to spoil. Plus, most eggplants you buy also have to go through days of transport and shelf storage.
How long does it last?
The eggplants’ shelf life depends on how well you store them and how long it has passed since it left the farm. In other words, you will know how long you should keep your eggplant at home based on how long it had stayed in storage before you purchased it.
Freshly-harvested eggplants can last up to a week. However, browning and softening can start to appear before a week passes.
In the pantry, eggplants can last for 3 to 5 days. If you have it sliced and cooked and left it under room temperature, it will only last for only 2 to 3 hours.
In the refrigerator, the fruit can stay for up to 10 days. If you have it sliced and cooked, it can last for 3 to 5 days.
In the freezer, your cooked or blanched eggplants packed in freezer bags can last for up to six months.
Sun-dried eggplants can last up to one month in the pantry. As for pickled eggplants, you will have up to 10 days to consume it after opening the jar.
How to tell if it has gone bad?
Just like many vegetables, they can rot in only a few days.
- Discard the eggplant that has turned brown, soft, or slimy. A fresh eggplant should have smooth and shiny skiing with a bright green-colored stem.
- If you see bruises or damaged spots, that tells you that its flesh is starting to decay. You may try to use it right away as long as its flesh is not affected yet. Or, cut just cut out the rotten part.
- A wrinkled eggplant is not fresh anymore, and it has already passed its prime.
- If the eggplant looks fine, smell it. Throw it away if it gives off a rotten or off-smelling odor.
- Toss it away for your safety if there are already molds on your eggplant’s stem and skin.
What will happen if I ate an eggplant that has already gone bad?
Usually, the bacteria that thrive in rotting vegetables do not cause severe food poisoning or digestive distress. Plus, it is easy to avoid a lousy eggplant, though. So, it is unlikely that you will eat them. Eggplants get bitter as they get older. And, a mushy one is not pleasing to eat at all.