I know eggplants are one of those vegetables that are fantastic fresh, but sometimes you get more than you can eat straight away. If you love eggplant and want to preserve some of your harvest, you’ll be pleased to know there are many delicious ways to do it.
Even better, you get to try any or all of these methods and decide which one is best for you. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it, right?
Let’s look at your options for preserving wonderful eggplant so the harvest lasts as long as possible.
A lot of people think that eggplant isn’t suitable for freezing because it defrosts all soft and squishy. That’s simply not true if you do it right, and this is a convenient, fuss-free way to freeze it.
- Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices.
- Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch the slices for five minutes.
- Remove and plunge into ice water to cool instantly.
- Lay the slices in a single layer onto a cookie sheet and place in the freezer.
- After five to six hours, the slices should be firm. Remove them and place them in a sealable container.
HINT: Don’t skip drying and laying the slices in a single layer and freezing. If you put the slices directly into the sealable bag they’ll clump together in one horrible blob. If they’re too wet after removing from the water, simply pat dry with a paper towel.
These defrosted slices are perfect for eggplant parmigiana, breading and frying, or moussaka.
If you don’t like fuss and you just want to freeze your eggplant right after cutting, you can. It’s best to blanch the slices before freezing in my opinion, but if you don’t want to or are pushed for time, don’t worry about it.
Simply slice and freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet before placing in a plastic bag or freezer-proof container. This is one of the quickest ways to preserve eggplant.
2. Roast and Puree
You will end up freezing this mixture, but the process is different than above because it’s suitable for different dishes than you’d use sliced and frozen pieces. It’s perfect for dips and sauces. Think cheese and crackers with eggplant dip. Yum!
- Cut eggplant in half lengthways and lay skin down in a roasting dish.
- Drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add crushed garlic if you like.
- Roast at 400ºF for around 40 minutes or until the insides are soft.
- Allow to cool before scooping the flesh out and placing it in freezer-proof containers.
When it’s time to use it, simply defrost and add to any dishes that use pureed eggplant.
HINT: After you preserve your eggplant, store it in containers that are sized to the amount you will need for your meals. Once this defrosts it can’t be refrozen and it does deteriorate in consistency and appearance after a few days in the refrigerator if you don’t use it all.
3. Fridge Pickled Eggplant
Over the years, I’ve tried many different methods and recipes for pickling eggplant and this is by far the most convenient and has the fewest amount of ingredients. The flavor is amazing. This is a refrigerator pickle, so it needs to be kept cool and won’t last for years. Don’t worry though, it won’t last long once people start eating it.
- Slice across 3 medium eggplants thinly and lay one layer in a colander. Sprinkle very lightly in salt and add another layer and more salt. Repeat the layers and salt until you run out of eggplant.
- Place the colander in the sink and put a plate that fits inside to weigh it down for an hour or so to get rid of excess moisture.
- Put 2/3 of a cup of red wine vinegar and 1/3 of a cup of water in a pot and bring to a boil.
- Put the eggplant in and boil for two minutes.
- Remove and put eggplant in a bowl, adding crushed garlic to your taste and 1/2 a teaspoon of oregano. Retain the boiling liquid.
- Place the eggplant in clean jars. A lot of the boiling liquid will go in so pack in tight and add more liquid to get rid of any air gaps and bubbles. Make sure there is no eggplant poking out the top of the liquid.
- Store the jars in the refrigerator.
HINT: Place whole garlic cloves in the jars or chili for extra heat.
4. Eggplant Chips
Tired of paying expensive prices for healthy vegetable chips in the supermarket? Make your own from eggplants! Combined with a dip, they are heavenly. If you don’t want to can or jar your eggplant to preserve it, this is an excellent alternative.
- Slice across about 6 medium eggplants and place in a bowl. Choose your spices. I use oregano, paprika and celery salt. Sprinkle liberally to taste.
- Drizzle on olive oil, toss and place in a dehydrator until crisp.
- Allow the chips to cool and sprinkle with salt and pepper if required.
- Store in an airtight glass container.
HINT: Use the spices or herbs you love. Omit the salt if on a salt-reduced diet.
5. Eggplant Jerky
Love the texture of jerky, but don’t want meat or the chemicals in store-bought products? Use your eggplants and, because it’s dehydrated, it lasts a long time.
- Slice three medium or four small eggplant lengthways no more than 1/8 of an inch thick.
- In a bowl put 1/2 cup of teriyaki sauce, 2 tablespoons of water or orange juice, and a pinch (to taste) of chili flakes.
- Add the eggplant slices and allow to marinate for a minimum of two hours.
- Place the slices in your dehydrator until dry or in a very low oven for hours until dry. If using your oven, keep it down to 115ºF for five to six hours or until the eggplant jerky is chewy.
- Store in an airtight glass container.
HINT: Instead of teriyaki sauce, try soy sauce or any other traditional jerky flavor you like.
6. Eggplant In Olive Oil
This is a traditional way for many people to preserve their eggplant. The jars can be stored in a cupboard for up to six months. Once opened keep refrigerated and use within seven days.
- Peel 1.5 pounds of whole eggplant like a potato. Slice into 1/2 inch strips and then cut the strips in half.
- Put 14 fluid oz. of white wine vinegar and 25 fluid oz. of water into a pot and bring to a boil.
- Place the eggplant in and boil for about 4 minutes. Remove and place on a paper towel to dry. Sprinkle liberally with oregano.
- In sterilized, but cool jars, add the eggplant, leaving about 1/4 inch at the top. Add olive oil to completely cover the eggplant. Use a sterilized knife to move the eggplants around to expel any oxygen bubbles.
- Seal with lids and immerse in boiling water for at least 30 minutes. Use a canning rack or towel at the bottom of your pot to avoid the jars cracking or breaking.
- Ensure the lid pops in or store in the refrigerator.
HINT: Use care as you would with all your other canning recipes (for instance, please make sure your utensils and jars are sterilized) or get someone experienced to show you how to can.
7. Eggplant Stuffed With Garlic and Yoghurt
This is one of the most decadent eggplant recipes I’ve tried. You need the small Italian eggplants, so if those are the type you grow you’re in for a treat.
- Grab 10 to 12 Italian eggplants and remove the stems. Boil them in water for between 8 and 10 minutes, depending on the size. Try and pick them all similar in size for consistency.
- Remove from the water and let cool down so you can handle them. Slit down one side, not cutting past the center. Rub a little salt inside and sit overnight to drain excess liquid.
- The next day, place a cup of walnuts and 6 cloves of garlic in a food processor and pulse a couple of times until the mixture is liquified. Add a cup of Greek yoghurt and a good pinch of salt and pulse again a couple of times.
- Take 2 teaspoons of this mixture and push it into the slits you made in the eggplant. Place in a sterilized jar and repeat with the remaining eggplants.
- Next, pour olive oil into the jar making sure the eggplants are covered. Seal and keep in the refrigerator for two weeks before opening.
HINT: If you love pita bread or fresh bread and dips, these eggplants are perfect.
8. Eggplant Bacon
If you’re vegan, vegetarian, or simply looking for a bacon alternative this eggplant bacon is for you. It involves dehydrating your veggies, so it lasts a long time on your shelf.
- Slice six medium eggplant lengthways and place in a bowl. Sprinkle over four teaspoons of garlic powder and onion powder and seven teaspoons of paprika.
- Place the strips in a dehydrator until they are crispy. Store these in an airtight container and fry them off just like bacon when ready.
HINT: Try adding different spices. Like pepper bacon? Add some pepper to your eggplant before dehydrating. If you prefer your bacon sweet, try a little brown sugar.
9. Roasted Pickled Eggplant
While boiled pickled eggplants are lovely, but if you’re craving something a little different, try roasting your eggplants first. Pickling is a tried-and-true way to preserve eggplant because it’s quick and delicious.
- Slice your eggplants into strips and place them on a baking sheet with some whole, peeled garlic cloves.
- Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle everything with salt.
- Roast at 425°F for 30 minutes or until the strips are cooked through.
- Sprinkle with chopped parsley and pack in a sealable jar. Pour white vinegar into the jar so that the pickles are covered.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to two months.