To most Americans, eggplant is a staple kitchen item that can be used for many different and flavorful dishes. With a deep purple skin and round base, their fat bodies and meaty texture make them ideal for grilling and roasting. But eggplants are not only grown in the U.S. but more so, different varieties are available all over the world. If you’re planning to grow eggplants in your backyard, the first thing you might be interested to know is, when is eggplant in season?
Eggplants (Solanum melongena, Solanaceae) are part of the nightshade family with peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes. In the early times, Americans used to believe that eating eggplants can cause insanity, leprosy, and cancer. It was only about 50 years ago when eggplants became acceptable to eat.
They grow on vines, just like tomatoes, and are available in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. They can be white, purple, black, or green and also differ in length. Eggplant shape can be spherical, curved, or long and narrow. The most common ones have deep purple skin with a teardrop-like shape and are about 8 to 10 inches long. Eggplants typically have spongy flesh, a meaty texture, and a slightly bitter taste. Female eggplants contain more seeds; thus, they are ideal for planting eggplant crops.
The largest yielders of eggplants in the U.S. include Florida, New Jersey, and California. They’re also widely grown in Mexico, China, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, and Japan. The most popular varieties include Black Beauty, Rosa Bianca, Classic, Orient Express, Black Italian, Japanese, Lavender, and Cloud 9. Eggplants season is from July through October.
Fun Facts about Eggplants:
- Eggplants were originally called “mad apples” in Europe since Europeans tend to name every vegetable a variation of “apple.”
- Despite the word “eggplant” being the same with a deep purple color, some early eggplants were actually white and egg-shaped. Eggplant is called aubergine in most of the English-speaking world.
- Eggplants are technically fruits.
When is Eggplant Season
Eggplant is a warm-weather plant, so when is eggplant in season? The answer is in mid-summer through early fall. Eggplants need a warm temperature to grow. So they will not thrive during the cold seasons.
When choosing eggplants, pick those that are bigger for their size and comes with a smooth, shiny, and brightly colored skin. To test the ripeness, you can gently press the skin with your thumb. A ripe eggplant will spring right back and won’t leave any indentation. Fresh eggplant can be stored in a cool place or inside the crisper for up to 5 days.
When to grow eggplants
- You can start to grow seeds indoors in pots 8–9 weeks before the last spring frost date. Seeds germinate better at temperatures between 70 to 90°F. Alternatively, you can purchase 6- to 8-week-old nursery transplants for more convenience.
- Do not plant eggplant seedlings into the garden until after the last frost.
- If you’re purchasing transplants, buy a high-quality specimen. Do not purchase tall, spindly plants or young plants that already have blossoms if you do not want a lower yield.
Knowing when is eggplant season and where to plant eggplant is essential. Make sure to place your transplants in a spot where they will get full sunlight. The soil should be kept fertile and well-drained. You can change your soil, if necessary, to make sure the plants will get adequate nutrients and will not be in stagnant water.
Eggplants do well when the soil is consistent with moisture. Water regularly, especially when the plants are still young so that they can develop deep roots. Avoid over-watering to prevent any disease, but do consider using mulch to keep the soil moist, warm, and to keep weeds to a minimum. Generally, eggplants should get an inch of rain or watering per week.
When to Pick an Eggplant
You can opt to wait until each eggplant becomes mature for its variety to harvest, but you can also pick those that are not fully ripe. Smaller eggplants are generally tender in texture and flavor. Don’t let eggplants stay past maturity since they will not retain their quality. To harvest them, you can use shears or scissors. Do not attempt to pull them off. You will most likely damage the plant, the fruit, or both.
Eggplants don’t store well. You can keep them for about a week in the fridge. Pickling is another option, but using preservation methods doesn’t result in good quality. Just like other fruits, eggplants are always best eaten fresh. For this reason, start picking the fruits when they are smaller to extend the harvest period. Learn more tips on growing crops.
Growing eggplants in the garden can be rewarding when harvest time comes. There are several varieties to choose from with an array of sizes, shapes, and colors. By understanding when is eggplant in season and what they need to grow, you can ensure a good and tasty harvest.