Image by Alice Henneman
By Jackie Carroll
Cutting into an eggplant to find the center full of seeds is a disappointment because you know the fruit isn’t at its peak of flavor. Eggplant seediness is usually due to improper harvesting or harvesting at the wrong time. Read on to find out how to avoid bitter, seedy eggplants.
Why are My Eggplants Seedy?
If you find too many seeds in an eggplant, it’s time to fine-tune your eggplant harvesting practices. Timing is everything when it comes to harvesting the perfect eggplant. Once the flowers bloom, the fruit develops and matures quickly. Eggplants are at their peak for only a few days, so check for ripe fruit every time you visit the garden.
When eggplants are ripe and at their best, the skin will be glossy and tender. Once they lose their shine, the skin toughens and the seeds inside the fruit begin maturing. You can also harvest them while they are small. Baby eggplants are a gourmet treat, and harvesting the small fruit keeps them from becoming overripe if you have to be away from your garden for a few days. Harvesting young fruit stimulates the plant to produce more fruit, so don’t be concerned about reducing the yield if you harvest small fruit.
Clip the fruit from the plant with hand pruners, leaving an inch of stem attached. Take care not to get stabbed by the thorny ends of the stem. Once harvested, eggplants keep for only a few days, so use them as soon as possible. You can test harvested eggplants to see if they are too old by pressing on the skin. If an indention remains when you remove your finger, the fruit is probably too old to use. The skin bounces back on fresh eggplants.
Since eggplants quickly go from the peak of perfection to old and seedy and have a short shelf life, you might find yourself with more eggplants than you can use from time to time. Friends and neighbors will enjoy taking those excess eggplants off your hands, especially when they discover the superiority of fresh-picked fruit over grocery store eggplants. The fruit doesn’t freeze or can well on its own, but you can freeze it cooked in your favorite casserole or sauce recipes.