From the color to the texture, learn how to determine if your eggplant is usable.
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Eggplant
Credit: Helen Norman

Eggplant is a workhorse in the kitchen. The glossy nightshade can be used in a range of delicious recipes, from curry to casseroles. But, like any produce, eggplant can go bad easily, especially when it's not stored properly (learn how to store eggplant here). Luckily, you can learn how to tell if eggplant is bad with these three simple indicators—here's what to check.

Color

The color of the eggplant is important on both the inside and outside. When looking at the exterior of the eggplant, check the stem and cap. Both should be green and fresh-looking. If they are starting to fade in color, that's an indicator that the vegetable may be spoiling. You'll also want to toss the eggplant if there is any mold on the stem or cap.

When looking at the interior, the eggplant flesh should be white. If there are any brown or dark spots in the flesh, it's best to toss the vegetable—however, there's one exception to this rule. Eggplant is susceptible to enzymatic browning, when fruits and veggies begin to brown after being exposed to oxygen (think: an apple or avocado that turns brown). If you cut the eggplant and notice browning shortly afterward, the eggplant is safe to eat. However, if the eggplant is already brown when you first cut into it, then it should be thrown away. 

Texture

When it comes to the texture of an eggplant, there are a few things to consider. First, look at the eggplant skin. If the skin has any cracks or looks shriveled, skip it. A good eggplant will have glossy, taut skin. You'll also want to test the texture of the flesh. When buying an eggplant, the flesh should be firm but give slightly when pressed, then bounce back. If your eggplant is soft to the touch, that's an indication that it's beginning to spoil. In addition, if the flesh of the eggplant is slimy, you'll want to throw it away.

Smell

The final indicator to check is the smell of the vegetable. If the eggplant is emitting an unpleasant or strange odor, it's another sign that it has gone bad. Eggplant should smell fresh and earthy when you buy it, like an eggplant.