Japanese eggplant is a thinner version of the typical dark purple eggplant seen in U.S. supermarkets. Its color is also much lighter. While its overall culture requirements are the same as the rounder eggplant, you can’t tell if Japanese eggplant is ready to harvest by looking at its size.
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Start inspecting eggplant two to three months after you’ve transplanted the seedling into your garden. Clemson University Cooperative Extension says if you planted from seed, start checking after five to six months have passed. Japanese eggplant should have glossy skin without any hints of brown, and you should be able to leave a slight mark if you press down on the skin.
Japanese eggplant is more perishable than other types, so pick it when you know you’ll use it within a week. Give away extra eggplant or freeze it for future use. PickYourOwn.org says to blanch clean, peeled, sliced eggplant in water and lemon juice before placing it in the freezer.
Check your plants once or twice a week to remove newly ready eggplant. Not only does this ensure you find them before they become overripe, but removing the ripe ones frees up nutritional resources within the plant for the remaining immature eggplant.