Shiny, dark-purple skin makes a common eggplant beautiful to behold, but it can be tough and bitter to eat. Peeling any variety of this versatile veggie isn’t strictly required as the skin is edible. However, just a minute or two of effort makes the eggplant in your veggie lasagna or spicy moussaka creamy and smooth. The flesh starts to turn brown immediately, so save the task of peeling for the last minute.
Things You'll Need
Wash the eggplant under cool water, running your hands over the vegetable to loosen any dirt clinging to the skin. Dry it with paper towels.
Set the eggplant on its side on a cutting board. Use a large knife to slice off the green stem at the top of the eggplant and to slice off the rounded bottom of the vegetable so it stands upright.
Set the eggplant on a kitchen towel or cutting board. Hold the eggplant at its top with one hand. With the other hand, slide a vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife down the vegetable, cutting away a vertical strip of peel. Turn the eggplant slightly after every pass with the peeler or knife. Repeat this action until the eggplant is fully peeled.
Slice or cube the peeled eggplant and sprinkle the pieces with salt. Let them sit in a colander for about 60 minutes; this step, writes Ayla Algar for “Fine Cooking,” draws out bitter liquid and prevents the pieces from absorbing too much oil during cooking.
The peel of any eggplant is edible but some are more palatable than others. Unless a recipe explicitly says otherwise, you may opt to leave the peel on when cooking with small, young eggplants because the peels won’t be bitter or tough. Peeling is a wise choice for eggplants that are larger and older, according to the University of Illinois Extension, because the flesh overcooks by the time the tough peel softens sufficiently.
Peeling an eggplant strips away some of its fiber content.
You can peel an eggplant after you grill it or roast it whole. Cook the vegetable until the skin turns black or starts to pucker. Let the eggplant sit for about 15 minutes, or until it feels cool to the touch. You should be able to pull away the peel in strips using your fingers.
References and ResourcesFine Cooking: How to Cook Eggplant to Tender, Silky Perfection
University of Illinois Extension: Eggplant