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If you’re looking for a healthy, delectable vegetable, you needn’t look further, for the answer lies within an eggplant.  Eggplants are delicious, low-calorie vegetables that are filled with soluble fiber, packed with minerals and phytonutrients (i.e., antioxidants).  If you take the time to familiarize yourself with the eggplant, you’ll reap the benefits -as long as you know how to select a ripe eggplant.  Here are the factors you’ll need to consider.

The Season

Although eggplants are sold year-round at the average grocery store, the greatest time to purchase an eggplant is from July through October.

The Place of Purchase

Consider buying produce (i.e., eggplants) from a local farmer’s market.  Fresh fruits and vegetables are at their best when they’re naturally grown.  If you’re shopping at a grocery store, opt for organic.  At the least, avoid purchasing eggplants that have been waxed.

The Skin of An Eggplant

Look for eggplants that are firm, shiny, and smooth.  They should be free of bruises, scars, and discoloration; these are signs that indicate damage, discoloration, or decay within the inside of the fruit.

The Eggplant’s Color

Eggplants may be purple, green, or white; but the most common eggplant is dark purple.  Whatever you choose, make sure it’s rich in color. The stem and cap, at each end of the eggplant, should be bright green in color.

According to Whole Foods Market, you can test the ripeness of an eggplant by gently pressing the skin with the pad of your thumb: “If it springs back, the eggplant is ripe, while if an indentation remains, it is not.”

After having purchased a ripe eggplant, there are a few more things you’ll need to know: they are very perishable; you mustn’t cut the eggplant, until you’re ready to eat it; they’re very sensitive to hot and cold temperatures; and, they should be stored at around 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Once you’re ready to eat, you’ll have to decide what you’re in the mood for.  With an eggplant, you’re in luck, for you’ve got options: you may easily grill an eggplant, thereafter placing it inside of a sandwich, or eating it by the slice; if you’re into cheese, you can make Eggplant Parmesan; or, you may roast and puree an eggplant, in order to make a dip.  Whether you’re a vegetable lover or meat-eater, the eggplant is a great addition to a delicious, healthy meal.

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