Eggplant ranges in color from deep, vibrant purple to pale, almost translucent white, and in length from 2 inches (about 5cm) to nearly a foot (about 30cm). Eggplants are typically about 8 to 10 inches (about 20 to 25cm) long and 4 inches (10cm) in diameter, with a glossy, dark purple skin. Other varieties include the smaller, narrower Japanese or Asian eggplant, in purple or striated shades, the Italian or baby eggplant, which looks like a miniature version of the common variety, and white eggplants the size and shape of eggs.
Baby eggplant is a longer, thinner shaped vegetable than the large variety. It has a shiny, purple-black skin with delicate and tender flesh. When purchasing, select baby eggplant that are firm to the touch with no wrinkles.
Japanese eggplants are most commonly purple, but can range in color from lavender to pink, green, and white as well. They are thin skinned with a delicate flavor and fewer of the bitter tasting seeds found in other eggplant varieties. Look for an eggplant that is relatively light for its size, firm, with dark-colored, smooth, shiny skin.
Creamy white in color, this eggplant has a tough skin with smooth flesh. It can be prepared in much the same way as the common variety. White eggplant has a mild flavor with little trace of bitterness. For freshness, choose a solid vegetable with glossy skin.