I have never done a lot of cooking with eggplant. However, I recently decided to try making Eggplant Parmesan and wondered how far in advance, I should buy one and what was the best way to store it before making the recipe. So, I did some checking around, and this is what I learned.
A fresh eggplant will last between 3 and 5 days at room temperature and 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator. Correctly frozen eggplants can maintain their flavor and texture profile for up to 8 months. Careful selection at the grocery or market is key to maximizing an eggplant’s shelf life.
How long eggplants last:
|Room Temperature||In the Fridge (40° F)||In the Freezer (0° F)|
|Eggplant||3-5 Days||7-10 Days||Up to 8 months|
The rest of the article will cover the basic storage guidelines and the details of how to preserve eggplants properly.
Should Eggplant Be Refrigerated?
Eggplants, like other fresh produce items, do not necessarily need to be refrigerated. However, they tend to spoil more quickly than other fruits (technically a berry). Therefore, it’s a good idea to refrigerate them in order to increase their shelf life significantly.
Eggplant’s taste best when immediately used. Refrigeration, although it prolongs the period of usability, may degrade the flavor and could produce soft spots or darker skin.
How Long Does Eggplant Last Unrefrigerated?
If you choose to store your eggplant at room temperature, you will likely lose a few days of shelf life. A well-selected eggplant will last unrefrigerated between 3 and 5 days. The rather short unrefrigerated shelf life makes it essential to learn how to select the right fruit at the grocery store or farmers market.
Choosing a Good Eggplant
Here are a few tips on finding a perfectly ripe eggplant. Look for one that:
- Has clear, shiny skin without bruises or damage of any kind
- Is solid, firm, and does not have soft spots
- Has a vibrant color, preferably with a green cap
- Feels fairly heavy or substantial for its size
I recommend going to a farmers market, if possible. (Go here for a locator) Try to avoid getting eggplants that have been coated in wax, which is often done as a superficial attempt to make it appear better than it is.
How Long Does Eggplant Last in the Fridge?
When kept cold, eggplants fare quite a bit better than when left at room temperature. You can expect them to last on average between 7 and 10 days in the fridge. However, this is dependent upon the size of the fruit and when it was harvested. Of course, fresher eggplants will last longer than ones that are already past their prime. Even so, some can be preserved with refrigeration for up to 2 weeks.
How Long Does Eggplant Last After Cutting?
If left unrefrigerated, an eggplant will turn brown within 30 minutes of being cut. To mitigate this, always store cut-up eggplant in the refrigerator where it can stay fresh for 3 to 5 days. You can preserve eggplant after cutting them by spraying or brushing the cut ends with lemon juice, saltwater, or white vinegar.
Store eggplant pieces by wrapping them in plastic wrap or a plastic baggy with a moistened piece of paper towel. Just keep in mind that most produce lasts much longer when intact. To ensure a satisfying culinary experience, don’t pre-cut eggplants until right before you use them.
What Is the Best Way to Preserve Eggplant?
The best way to preserve eggplant is to freeze it by following these 5 simple steps:
- Clean the eggplant thoroughly.
- Thinly slice it into 1/4″ slices.
- Blanch the slices or bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Flash freeze them on a cookie sheet for 1 hour covered in plastic wrap.
- Separate the slices with layers of wax paper in freezer-safe baggies for long-term freezer storage.
It’s best to cook an eggplant before freezing, as it will have fewer ill-effects than frozen unprocessed. Crystallization of the waters in its tissue changes the texture and cause your eggplant to be less appetizing.
Some people prefer to dehydrate their eggplant. Dehydrated Eggplant is also known as eggplant jerky or eggplant bacon, and it can last many months refrigerated or several weeks at room temperature. You can dehydrate them by using a dehydrator, an oven at low-heat, or by salting and curing.
How to Properly Store Eggplant
Now let’s briefly cover the three basic ways you can store an eggplant. Keep in mind that we will assume that you took the time to pick a perfectly ripe one.
Storing at Room Temperature
If you intend to use your eggplant within 3 days of purchase or harvest, it can be stored in a well-ventilated, dry place at room temperature. If it is summertime and your kitchen lacks air conditioning, store it in a cool cabinet, pantry, or cellar. Actually, the optimal temperature is 50 to 54° F, so either choose the warmest spot in your fridge or the coolest area of your house.
Avoid storing eggplants near ethylene producing fruits, such as melons and bananas, as they will cause your eggplant to spoil quickly. Please store in a bowl or a basket and do not cover them since this will also promote rapid decay.
Storing in the Fridge
To properly store eggplant in the refrigerator, wrap in a perforated plastic produce bag or cheesecloth and store in the crisper produce drawer. Make sure that your eggplant has space to “breathe.” Use it as soon as possible.
Storing in the Freezer
Finally, if you’re freezing your eggplants, make sure they are sliced, blanched, and separated with wax paper. Freeze in a deep freezer or the coldest section of your regular freezer.
How Do You Know If an Eggplant Has Gone Bad?
Unfortunately, eggplant has a shorter shelf life than some other produce items. Even so, it’s pretty easy to tell when it’s too far gone and time for the compost pile. A fresh eggplant should have taut skin, firm flesh, and a green, slightly moist stem.
Ways to tell your eggplant has gone bad
- Withering, wilting or leathery skin
- Covered in soft spots
- Brown flesh
- Molding or withering dried stem
What Happens If You Eat Bad Eggplant?
It is unlikely that you will experience food poisoning from eating eggplants that are past their prime as the bacteria that forms in rotting vegetables isn’t the type that causes serious digestive distress.
It is unlikely you would ever eat a bad eggplant anyway. They tend to get increasingly bitter the older they are. Once mushy, they are wildly displeasing to the taste buds.
So, I ended up making that eggplant parm. It came out really good! Not bad for an old-fashioned Southern lady who would usually be making fried chicken with rice and gravy.
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