Eggplant can be very hit or miss for people. Some crave meaty grilled slabs of the fruit (yes, it’s technically a fruit!), and others complain that it’s bland, bitter, and seedy. If you’re a fan, here’s how to ensure that your eggplant is in prime form to enjoy.

You can tell an eggplant is no longer good when the skin becomes dimpled or wrinkled, especially up by the top where the stem and leaves grow. Soft, brown spots, and a dried-out, dark stem are other indications that an eggplant is near spoiling.

An unpleasant flavor or texture isn’t necessarily a sign of spoilage. An overly mature eggplant can taste bitter and have a rubbery texture even if freshly picked. At the store or farmer’s market, squeeze the eggplant; it should feel pleasantly firm—not spongy or rock hard. Small eggplants tend to be sweeter than the large, mature ones.

To prevent your eggplant from spoiling early, store it carefully. If you plan to use your eggplant in a day or two, keep it at room temperature. Chilling an eggplant can cause the flesh to darken and deteriorate. If you have to wait to use the fruit, refrigerate it for no more than three or four days.

Salting eggplant is supposed to help reduce any bitter flavors and can make what might seem like a spoiled eggplant tasty again. If you do end up with an overly mature fruit, cut it into slices or chunks, place it into a colander, and sprinkle liberally with coarse salt. Allow it to sit for several hours. Rinse and pat dry before using.