E-Tender: Eggplant Variety for Fresh Eating

Hello, everyone. My name is Nate and I'm a product technician here at Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Today, I'm going to be talking with you about a new add for the 2024 catalog, 'E-Tender', which is an eggplant with a very unique eating quality. 'E-Tender' is a specialized eggplant from Japan that has a very soft, thin skin and a unique flesh quality that allows it to be eaten raw.

Preparing and Eating E-Tender

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about the different ways that you can prepare it. First off, it's probably important to say that you can just eat it fresh out of the field. It has a higher water content than a lot of eggplant and so it's good traditionally used as a hydrating fruit. The skin is very thin and you can eat right through it.

It is bitter free and the texture is reminiscent of a fine fleshed pear or potentially a slightly firmer watermelon. I like it just straight, but I find that it can be a difficult sell for a lot of people not familiar with it. I have a couple different ways of preparing it as we have right now.

E-Tender in a Quick Pickle

Traditionally, it's often put into a quick pickle, so a simple brine of vinegar, water, salt and a little bit of sugar. I find that in this form it really just dissolves right in your mouth. But for those who feel like they want something a little bit fresher and not pickled, I was going to show how to make a panzanella salad using this eggplant.

Panzanella Salad

For me, the panzanella salad is really the flavor of the summer. Traditionally it has tomatoes, onions, fresh herbs, olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixed together with stale bread crumbs to really suck up the juices. But when I'm going through the trial fields here at Johnny's this time of year, I tend to pick whatever is in season and chop it all up and throw it in a bowl together and I find that that takes me through the rest of the day pretty nicely.

I think that the 'E-Tender' eggplant works really nicely in this type of salad because the texture of it absorbs a lot of the juice and the vinegar and all of the flavors really meld together very nicely. The flavor of the eggplant is mild, slightly sweet, fairly unique. I think when I have to describe it to people, I say that it's somewhere between a cross of an apple and a tomato, but overall it complements all of the flavors in here very nicely.

The skin is very thin and is bitter free, and while you can eat it, for this preparation, I usually peel it because I find it absorbs all the juices a little bit better. You want to remove the calyx, which can have some small fine spines on it.

Some of you might notice that the internal flesh of 'E-Tender' actually is much slower to oxidize and turn brown than a more traditional variety that you might cook, which also really aids it in serving it fresh and raw. It's not going to get that kind of unpleasant brown color.

You want to pick them relatively small before the seeds really start forming. You can eat them once the seeds have formed, but I find that it makes the texture just a little bit less pleasant, a little bit mealier. Try not to make too big of a mess while you're cooking.

Nate's Panzanella Salad Recipe


  • Fresh herbs. Today I have fresh basil, parsley and a little bit of mint.
  • Assorted fresh vegetables such as E-Tender, tomatoes, sweet corn, and onions
  • Tablespoon of olive oil
  • Splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Breadcrumbs: once the juices from all of the different vegetables and herbs and the oil have mixed in there nicely and started to seep out, then is the best time to add the stale breadcrumbs in order to soak that all up.

Thank you very much for watching. Hopefully this video has given you some ideas about how to best use the new add for Johnny’s Selected Seeds, 'E-Tender' eggplant.