Eggplants have a creamy flesh that soaks up flavor like mushrooms.
When are eggplants in season?
They show up in early summer (if you live in a hotter climate) and last into fall - from about June through October. See what else is in season at the same time: June, July, August, September, and October.
Or check out what is currently in season
How to buy & store
To pick the best eggplants at the grocery store or farmers market: look for shiny and firm skin - wrinkles indicate it's no longer fresh. It should be fairly firm - if it is too soft, that is a sign it's over mature. Also if it is heavy for its size, that means it has more water content and is fresher (so pick the heaviest one of a bunch that are a similar size).
Eggplants that are over-mature will have a bad texture and can turn bitter.
How to store:
A lot of sources tell you to throw it in the fridge, however, detailed studies from UC Davis suggest otherwise. Eggplants don't like cold temperatures and their quality declines and can develop off flavors when stored below 50F for even just a couple of days (your fridge is around 38F). However, room temperature isn't ideal either, as they like it best around 50- 55F degrees.
Your best bet is to store them in a cool place that isn't the fridge (a room that is 68F or lower would work). If that isn't possible or your home is really warm in the summer, put them in the fridge.
They will last several days and up to a week.
Should I buy organic?
It's not necessary for eggplants since pesticide levels on 'conventionally grown' ones are near organic levels when they are from the US. Eggplants from Mexico get into the 'medium' risk level, according to the data from Consumer Reports. That means after 5-10 servings of eggplant in a day, you would exceed the 'known levels of safety' of pesticides found in the produce.
Cooking tip - eggplants act like a sponge
Think of eggplant like mushrooms - they will soak up a ton of flavor and oil. This makes frying them difficult, so it's worth the extra step to bread them if you want to fry them. This is also why you see a lot of recipes that bake, broil, or grill them, as you are able to use less oil.
Each recipe below only uses ingredients that are in season at the same time as eggplants, or ingredients that have a year-round season.
Eggplant Dragon Roll from Produce Made Simple
Baked eggplant parmesan - recipe by Andie Mitchell
Roasted eggplant tomato soup - recipe by Making Thyme for Health
Eggplant pomodoro pasta - recipe by Foolproof Living
Eggplant and tomato season overlap very well!
Grilled eggplant salad with mustard vinaigrette - recipe by Cooking and Beer
Yes, this comes with a beer pairing suggestion: a summery and light farmhouse ale.
Eggplant and caramelized onion grain salad grapes and walnut dressing - recipe by Whole Bite Blog
We tend to think of grapes as a fall crop, but they actually start showing up in June, and last well past the end of eggplant season.
Eggplant parmesan bites with marina dipping sauce - recipe by Just a Taste
Roasted eggplant shakshuka - recipe by The Brick Kitchen
Purple kale, aubergine (eggplant), and blackberry salad - recipe by Green Kitchen Stories
Eggplant pizza crust - recipe from Lexi's Clean Kitchen
Grilled eggplant gyros with tzatziki - recipe by Jackie Newgent
Baba ganoush (eggplant dip) - recipe by Honestly Yum
The recipe page has a full mezze platter writeup.
... For late in the season
Eggplant meatballs - recipe by Sweet Simple Vegan
Celery is technically out of season in the heart of summer, so make these in fall when eggplant season is wrapping up and celery is coming back. Or buy out-of-season celery, I won't tell! When cooking it down in a recipe like this, out-of-season celery won't make a large difference (if we're all being honest here!)