There are few vegetables that rival the mouthwatering, rib-sticking pleasure provided by a plate of succulent meat, but eggplant is one of them. This hearty plant makes for a satisfying side when seared on the grill and dressed with nothing more than a drizzle of olive oil, and it might even be more delicious than pizza when done up with tomato sauce and a melted slab of mozzarella (hello, eggplant parm). Our only beef with aubergines is that if you buy ‘em on a Monday, chances are they’ll go bad before that weekend barbecue you planned. Here’s the deal: This purple prize may have a short shelf life but if you know how to store eggplant properly, you can expect a few more days of freshness from these tender, tasty friends.
Before storing, pick the best of the bunch
If you’re planning on purchasing eggplant from a grocer, it’s best to do so on the same day you intend to cook it. Eggplants don’t like living off the vine very much and even under the best conditions, they begin to deteriorate within days so those aubergines at the store are likely already on their last legs. That said, you don’t need to grow your own to get a good eggplant—just pick the freshest plant in the produce aisle. Here are two points to keep in mind at the store:
- Weigh your options. When it comes to picking an eggplant, the best of the bunch will be the densest. Compare several similarly-sized plants and bag the one that feels heftiest in your hand.
- Suss out the skin. A healthy aubergine should have smooth, sleek skin that feels firm to the touch. If you notice any shriveling, pitting or soft spots on the surface of eggplant, it’s either bruised or past its prime.
Option 1: Store eggplant in a temperature-controlled space
Now that you did the work and found the freshest aubergine available, the goal is to keep it that way as long as possible. Your picky plant does best when stored between 50 and 55°F so if you have a spot in your home that stays consistently cooler than room temperature (like a cellar, for example), that’s where your eggplant should live. Wine coolers are actually the ideal temperature-controlled environment—so if you have one, put your aubergine where that bottle of Beaujolais used to be and pour yourself a glass to celebrate your culinary prowess. Whatever temperature-controlled climate you choose, wrap your eggplant in a paper towel and place it in an unsealed plastic container or bag before storing it for up to a week.
Option 2: Store eggplant on the counter
If you don’t own a wine cooler or have access to a basement, proceed to Plan B: Countertop storage. Storing an eggplant at room temperature won’t actually buy you more time (since warmer environments cause quick spoilage), but if you can eat your eggplant in two days, the countertop will better protect the quality of your produce. When carving out some space on the kitchen counter, keep in mind that eggplants are highly sensitive to ethylene gas emitted by other fruits and vegetables and will readily over-ripen when exposed to it. For this reason, steer clear of the fruit bowl and give your aubergine a room of its own, apart from other produce.
Option 3: Store eggplant in the fridge
When stored in the fridge, your eggplant will not spoil as quickly as it would on the countertop, but the cold temperature is more likely to damage this nightshade’s quality. To keep eggplant fresh in the fridge, wrap it in a paper towel and place it in a hard-sided storage container or unsealed plastic bag. (Airflow is key either way, but hard containers are best to avoid bruising of the eggplant’s thin skin.) Then, remove all other produce from the crisper drawer of your refrigerator before storing your eggplant there where it will be safe and sound for up to four days. (But the sooner you cook it up and savor that silky texture, the better.)