Eggplant can be finicky to cook. It can easily turn to mush and/or an appetizing shade of blue-gray. Here’s why that happens and how to avoid it when preparing eggplant.
All plants (fruits and vegetables) have pigments-it’s what gives them their vibrant colors.
Eggplant is a flavanoid of the anthocyanin group, which includes red cabbage, eggplant, radishes and berries. In acidic environments, they’re red; at a neutral pH they’re purple; in alkaline environments, blue. These foods turn different colors depending upon several factors:
- the pH of the cooking water
- the type of knife used
- the type of cookware used
- degree of exposure to oxygen
Aluminum, tin, copper, iron and steel (not stainless steel) are reactive metals that interact with the pH of food.
The best way to prevent eggplant from discoloring is to use a stainless steel knife and prepare it in a pan that is free of copper, iron, aluminum or tin.
Additionally, adding a hint of acidity (lemon or vinegar) to the cooking water will prevent discoloration during the cooking process. Salting sliced eggplant prior to cooking will also ward off browning, as it somewhat protects the eggplant against oxidation.