By Francine Juhasz

Yes, it's true. There's more to the eggplant than meets the eye. In fact, this versatile veggie, which most of us recognize as long, wide and purple, comes in many shapes and sizes. They can be small and round like a golf ball or thin and long like a zucchini; they can be white, yellow, lavender, pink or green. Some of the more popular of these varieties include the Thai Yellow Egg, the Japanese White Egg, the Ping Tung Long, the African Garden Eggs and the Chinese Round Mauve.

fresh ripe organic eggplants on a wooden table
credit: Vassiliy Vassilenko/iStock/Getty Images
Freshly picked eggplants.

Thai Eggplants

Thai Eggplant
credit: Robyn Mackenzie/iStock/Getty Images
Thai eggplant.

The most common eggplant grown in Thailand is the Thai Eggplant. This golfball-sized vegetable is bitter in taste; the seeds are particularly harsh and are removed before cooking. This eggplant comes in many colors, but is typically green with yellow or white stripes. The Yellow Egg is a Thai heirloom eggplant that's yellow in color. The Thai Long Green is another heirloom variety that's long and light green. These eggplants are used cubed in hot curry dishes.

Japanese White Egg

Japanese eggplants
credit: PicturePartners/iStock/Getty Images
Japanese eggplants.

The Japanese White Egg eggplant is very productive, giving large quantities of small white vegetables. These eggplants have a thin skin and a delicate, sweet flavor. The vegetable is slender and comes in a variety of colors including white, pink, green, lavender or purple. Its stem is most often dark purple. The White Egg is roasted and served as a side or added to Japanese soups or sesame chicken.

Ping Tung Long

Chinese Eggplant
credit: PhotoObjects.net/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images
Ping Tung Long eggplant.

The Ping Tung Long eggplant is long and dark purple. Its flesh is tender and sweet. Named after its native town of Ping Tung in Taiwan, it's popular throughout Asia. It's best prepared grilled and served with salt and olive oil.

African Garden Eggs

Eggplant
credit: bdspn/iStock/Getty Images
Small eggplants.

African Garden Egg eggplants are known for being small and bitter. They're almost always yellow in color. This eggplant is usually grown in small gardens and eaten throughout West Africa. It's usually prepared by being chopped into small pieces, cooked, then mixed into various meat, fish and vegetable dishes and sauces.

Chinese Round Mauve

Round eggplant
credit: lvcandy/iStock/Getty Images
Chinese Round Mauve eggplant.

The Round Mauve eggplant is a Chinese heirloom with small to medium-sized fruits. It's pale lavender in color with subtle patterns of purple. It's usually eaten when it is the size of a tennis ball, which is when the seeds are least noticeable. The skin is soft, so it's rarely peeled. You can use this eggplant in almost any recipe.