Does Eggplant Go Bad?

So you’ve bought your first eggplant with the intention of making ratatouille, but for some reason, you didn’t quite get to it yet. Now, a week later, you start to wonder: does eggplant go bad?

Or maybe you’re a seasoned cook with a bunch of eggplant recipes in your repertoire. But when eggplants went on sale yesterday, you jumped the gun and bought way too many. Now you’re wondering how you should store them, so they last as long as possible.

Maybe you’re even considering freezing some of them, as you surely won’t be able to use all of them within the next week or so.

If some of these concerns sound familiar, this article is for you. In it, we go through storage, shelf life, and going bad of eggplants. We also touch upon freezing them if that’s what you’re looking for. If that sounds interesting, read on.

Eggplant
Image used under Creative Commons from albastrica mititica

How to Store Eggplants

If you want to store eggplants for a prolonged period, it makes sense to choose the best ones when shopping. Generally, you should aim to choose ones that are fully ripe or almost ripe.

That means the vegetable should be quite firm to the touch, but not super firm, and definitely not soft. When choosing, make sure to check for bruises and soft spots. A damaged eggplant will likely start to rot much earlier than a bruise-free one.

Now that you’ve bought the veggie, it’s time to put it into storage. First off, if you buy shrink-wrapped eggplants, unwrap them when you get home.

The best place to store it is a really cool pantry or a cellar, as the optimal temperature for eggplants is 50-54°F (or 10-12°C). Unfortunately, hardly anyone has such a cool pantry available.

So unless you have access to a room with constant 50-54°F, you’re left with the usual choice between the fridge and room temperature in the kitchen or pantry.

For short term storage, the kitchen counter or pantry is perfectly fine. Just make sure the eggplant sits in a well-ventilated place and away from sunlight and ethylene producers (e.g., bananas). Ethylene speeds up ripening, and you definitely don’t want that.

If you expect to store the whole eggplant for more than 3 or 4 days, it’s better to refrigerate it. Just store the fresh ones in the fridge, no added packaging needed. In fact, do not seal the eggplants in any wrapping to prevent decay while in storage.

Note

Keeping fresh eggplants in the fridge will cause the flesh to darken.

When it comes to cut or cooked eggplants, keep them in the fridge, tightly sealed in an airtight container.

Bunch of eggplants
Image used under Creative Commons from Clyde Robinson

Can You Freeze Eggplant?

Like with many other veggies, freezing is a pretty good option for preserving eggplants for longer.

There are at least a few ways to freeze eggplants. The best way that requires the least work is making a dish that includes the veggie and freezing the entire dish. That method doesn’t require any extra work besides transferring the dish into freezer-safe containers. Of course, it doesn’t work for all dishes. Cooked ones, such as casseroles, are preferred since they freeze well.

Another popular and quite versatile method of freezing is by blanching and freezing eggplants cut into rounds.

First off, you wash the eggplant and slice it into rounds. Then it’s blanching time. Once you’ve dried the blanched pieces, flash freezing is the next on our todo list.

Once frozen, transfer the rounds into freezer bags, squeeze the air out of them, seal them tightly and chuck into the freezer. If needed, add a label with a name and date to each bag.

As you can see, this method is quite time-consuming. That’s why, if possible, I recommend freezing eggplants in cooked dishes.

Eggplant on white background
(credit: Charles)

How Long Does Eggplant Last

Like almost all veggies, fresh eggplants don’t last that long. If you store them at room temperature, they stay fresh for about three to five days. In the fridge, they can last for about 7 to 10 days in good condition.

Since we’re talking about vegetables here, sometimes they stay fresh for much longer, but going bad after two or three days in the fridge shouldn’t be that much of a surprise either. You never know how well was the veggie stored before you bought it.

If you want to pre-cut eggplant on the weekend to save time on a weekday dinner, you should know that cut eggplant retains good quality for only 3 to 4 days. So if you need it on a Friday, it’s better to pre-cut it in the middle of the week if possible.

When it comes to cooked eggplant or one that’s part of a dish, it will retain quality for up to five days.

As usual, if you decide to freeze this veggie, it can last months in the freezer without much quality loss.

 PantryFridge
Eggplant (whole)3 – 5 days7 – 10 days
Eggplant (cut) 3 – 4 days
Eggplant (cooked) 3 – 5 days

Please note that the estimates above are for best quality.

Eggplant on teal surface
(credit: Charles)

How to Tell If Eggplants Are Gone Bad?

If the veggie starts to rot, discard it. Some people cut out the rotten part and use the rest, but that’s something that I don’t recommend. Nevertheless, if the rotten part is small, I’m guilty of not following my own advice.

Other than rot, there are a few signs that eggplant is past its prime. First is when the smooth skin has turned wrinkly. Another when the flesh has become soft, mushy, or spongy. In both cases, it’s probably best to get rid of the veggie.

If everything about the eggplant seems to be okay, it’s most likely perfectly safe to eat.