Eggplant, a large berry, is a member of the nightshade family along with tomatoes and potatoes. Eggplant comes in several different varieties such as Chinese, Italian and white, with the Western or globe eggplant being the most common variety. Eggplant is used in a variety of recipes from dips to vegetarian dishes, and can even be enjoyed after simple oven roasting. Before you can dive into cooking an eggplant, however, you must first learn how to find a ripe eggplant in good shape from the produce department.
Look for an eggplant that is vivid in color. The skin should be a rich green, purpple or white, depending on the type of eggplant you're shopping for. The cap of the eggplant should be bright green.
Inspect the skin of the eggplant for any bruises or scrapes. The skin should be smooth, unblemished and shiny. Eggplants with soft spots or discolored areas on the skin should be avoided.
Choose an eggplant that feels firm and heavy. Gently press into the skin of the eggplant with your thumb and watch to make sure the skin bounces back. Put the eggplant back if the place where you pressed stays indented.