A team of Spanish researchers just took the guesswork out of harvesting eggplant. For best flavor, they say, pick the vegetable 42 days after the fruits begin to form. That's when sugars and other flavor compounds are at their peak, they say.
According to recent research, food scientists at Autonomous University in Madrid, led by Rosa M. Esteban, studied flavor development in three varieties of eggplant. Acidity and chemical content of the vegetables were measured five times during a 54-day growing period.
Sugar content declined during the second week of growth in each variety, then increased up through the end of the sixth week. As sugars increased, so did important flavor compounds such as ascorbic acid and phenols. In the 10 days following day 42, production of each of these decreased dramatically.
Photography by Suzanne DeJohn/National Gardening ASsociation.