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Old August 13, 2018   #1
habitat_gardener
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Default When to pick eggplants

How do you know when to pick eggplants?

I’m finally gardening in a climate that eggplants like, so I’ve planted 7 or 8 varieties. But I think I may have missed the picking window for some of them, because I was waiting for them to get larger!

Here’s a photo of two fruits on Black Beauty. Is the lighter one past its prime?
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Old August 13, 2018   #2
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I pick by feel, nice and firm, best to pick before ripe. I try to go by shine vs. dull on black beauties but that isn't always accurate. The general rule is to pick before they lose their shine and get dull.
The longer you leave them on the plant the larger and more seeds you will have. Once picked, try to cook in three days.
If they start to get spongey, pick and cook right away.

Last edited by SQWIBB; August 13, 2018 at 07:03 PM.
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Old August 13, 2018   #3
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If the dull one of spongey it may be over ripe but you can't always go by looks, if I have a dull one, I squeeze to see if it's spongey
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Old August 13, 2018   #4
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Hmm, the lighter one is quite firm. I don’t get to the community garden every day, so I haven’t kept tabs on how they are changing from day to day.

So far, all of the ones I’ve picked have been good, but smaller than they’re “ supposed” to be.

Is it a rule of thumb that sponginess is a better indicator of “oops, too late” than color? Do they stay shiny until they are past their prime?
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Old August 14, 2018   #5
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The brown one is a few weeks past. Not sure what it will be good for, it will be very seedy and probably bitter. Maybe in a ratatouille.
The other one is hard to say, it looks way lighter than a BB should be, but maybe it's because it was well shaded. If it's hard it is probably a bit passed.

Size is not a good indicator, on the same plant you can get big or small, like with tomatoes. A very good rule, but probably hard to actually follow is time from flowering, which is 3-3.5 weeks in the summer which leads to small, not yet well developed seeds. Another indicator is fattness, if it's getting fat it's getting old. Depends on the expectations for that variety, but BB should not be that round.
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Old August 14, 2018   #6
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You want the eggplant fruit firm, not hard. What zipcode says about the brown one is usually the case but not always. The best way is by feel.

I have had brown eggplants that were perfectly fine,

if its firm (indent but bounces back/has a little give) pick it.

If its hard (does not indent/have any give) leave it to ripen a bit

if its very spongey (indents easily and stays indented) it is over ripe and you may be able to salvage some of it an a recipe like a pizza topping, but thats your call. Usually the top half is more salvageable, the lobe will have most of the seeds, well for me anyway.


Shine vs. Dull I thought for years was a good indicator but I have found that method is not reliable and the best way is by feel.

Last edited by SQWIBB; August 14, 2018 at 06:47 AM.
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Old August 14, 2018   #7
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Thank you!
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