The most common type of aubergine, also known as eggplant, is fairly large, an elongated oval shape and purple in colour. Others are white, mauve and green, some even striped. Aubergines are available for most of the year. Look for a firm, bright, shiny skin and a green, fresh-looking stalk end. The flesh inside is white and spongy but it browns when cut. Salting them is meant to remove their bitterness, but varieties sold these days are less bitter than they used to be (although salting does make them absorb less of the oil in which they’re cooked). Aubergines are common in Greek and Turkish cooking: dishes such as moussaka and imam bayildi (stuffed aubergines). They can also be used in vegetable stews such as ratatouille or on their own, sliced and fried or grilled.