Eggplants are nutritious and delicious—and now’s the best time of year to purchase these purple beauties. Here’s how to buy eggplants and how to make them taste great…

Eggplants are high in fiber and flavonoids—plant ingredients that stave off cancer and heart disease—and contain potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B-6 and iron. Plus, they’re “meaty” enough to replace a hamburger patty on your burger bun…while being much cheaper than meat. Need we say more?

Buying tips: When you buy an eggplant in summer, during the fruit’s peak season, it will be less bitter and have a thinner skin than when you buy it off-season.

For denser flesh, choose an eggplant that’s heavy for its size…or one that seems heavier than others that are the same size. To tell if an eggplant is ripe, gently press its skin. If the dent bounces back and disappears, the fruit is ripe. If the dent stays a dent, the eggplant is too ripe.

On purple eggplants, look for smooth, taut skin that’s glossy. If you’re looking for white eggplant, reject any that seem to have a tinge of yellow.

Tip for tasty eggplant: Some modern chefs say that you don’t need to bother sprinkling salt over eggplant slices before cooking them, a process known as “degorging.” But we say degorge away! Here’s why…

Larger, older eggplants have brown seeds that contain a bitter liquid. Salting eggplants removes some of this liquid and improves their flavor. In general, it’s not necessary to salt smaller eggplants since they have fewer seeds than larger eggplants…but we usually do it anyway since we think it makes the flesh taste better.

Larger eggplants also tend to become soft and “melty” when cooked—salting them before cooking leads to firmer cooked texture. (Roast, steam or fry the eggplant with the skin on…that’s the healthiest part.)

To salt an eggplant: Slice it and generously season the slices with kosher salt. Let the slices sit until you can see the liquid coming to the surface (about 20 to 30 minutes). Rinse the slices well, and pat them dry. It’s also a good idea to use half as much salt in your cooking as the recipe calls for (unless the recipe takes into account the fact that the eggplant has been salted).

Here are some eggplant recipes we love…

Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan

Olive Oil Roasted Eggplant with Lemon

Easy Fried Eggplant

Thanks to for help with this tip.

Food facts for good eating…

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