I am growing eggplant for the first time ever, and it looks beautiful! The plant has large leaves and big purple flowers, and the fruit looks like deep purple marbles before it really takes shape. I know that often times the food I grow in my own garden doesn't look exactly like what we're used to seeing in a grocery store-- the food I grow has imperfect shapes and coloring and minor bruises, but I expect that because I'm not using standardized growing systems and chemical treatments. So herein lies my problem: if I don't know what it's supposed to look like, how do I know when my eggplant is ready to pick?
If I wait for it to look like a long, smooth, perfectly plump purple droplet, I might lose my chance to pick a ripe eggplant. But having never grown this vegetable before, I have nothing to compare it to other than past eggplants I've purchased. Here's what my eggplant plant looks like right now, with one especially large ripening fruit:
I'm pretty sure those tiny little eggplant dudes aren't ready yet, but what about that big guy? He seems to be growing out and wide instead of down and long. Is this a trait of the eggplant breed I planted? Is this normal for home-grown eggplants? Will it start to lengthen out soon and end up looking normal?