Fifteen of the fastest and easiest ways to preserve eggplants–for the next time your garden has an eggplant bonanza. Eggplant is one of those plants that seems to do pretty well in my garden without much fussing and tending, which is why I often end up with excess eggplant at the end of the summer.
15 Fast and Easy Ways To Preserve Eggplants
- Freezing Eggplant
- Flash Freezing Eggplant
- Freeze-drying Eggplant
- Roasting Eggplant
- Roasting and Pureeing Eggplant
- Canning Eggplant
- Pickling Eggplant
- Italian Pickled Eggplant
- Canning Pickled Eggplant
- Pickled Grilled Eggplant
- Eggplant Salsa
- Dehydrating Eggplant
- Eggplant Jerky
- Meditteranean Eggplant Chips
- Sea Salt and Vinegar Eggplant Chips
There’s only so much eggplant parmesan I can eat, so I’ve made a list of fifteen fast and easy ways to preserve these purple beauties. Depending on how you want to use your eggplant afterward will determine the best method to preserve your veggies. Keep reading and I’ll help you solve all your extra-eggplant woes, as well as give you some delicious new recipes to try.
Ok, I’ll start with probably one of the most obvious ways to preserve extra veggies—freezing them! Simply freezing eggplant is a great way to preserve your harvest long-term as frozen eggplant will keep for up to 6 months.
To get the best out of your frozen eggplant it’s best to do a little preparation—don’t just throw the whole eggplant in the freezer.
- Cut the eggplant into slices
- Sprinkle some salt on the slices
- Blanch the eggplant for about 5 minutes (meaning boil it quickly), and then immediately place the boiled slices in ice water to stop the cooking process.
- Place the slices on a nonstick baking sheet, one layer thick, and place them in the freezer.
- Let them freeze for about 5 hours, then place the slices in a Ziploc bag.
By freezing your eggplants in this way you’ll be able to select individual slices out of the bag later, rather than getting a big glob of mushy eggplant that freezes as a block.
Flash Freezing Eggplant
If you don’t have the time to blanch the eggplants ahead of time, or you have a specific purpose in mind for them that would prevent you from blanching them you can flash freeze them.
To flash freeze eggplants just slice or dice them as you prefer, place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer for around 5 hours. By freezing them uncovered they will freeze faster (in a flash, you might say).
To freeze-dry eggplant you do need a special freeze-drying machine, and they can be expensive. But if you have a neighbor with a freeze dryer you may be able to borrow theirs.
Freeze-drying is a process wherein food is supercooled (way below zero degrees Fahrenheit), and then is slowly warmed back up (warmed back to zero). As the food “warms” it releases moisture in the form of gas. This process is called sublimation.
Although the machinery is expensive freeze-drying is an excellent way to preserve the nutrition in food.
You can watch my video on how I freeze-dry eggs or this video on how to freeze dry eggplants and summer squash.
Roasting eggplant is very easy and roasted eggplant is a very versatile side dish. It’s great as a side on its own and can be used as an alternative to pasta between lasagna layers. They can also be used in classic eggplant Parmesan!
To roast eggplant:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Cut the eggplant however you want—either in slices or lengthwise in half. Don’t worry about removing the skin.
- Lay out the slices or halves in a single layer on a baking sheet.
- Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and any other seasoning you want. Be sure to oil and season both sides.
- Bake the eggplant for 30-40 minutes depending on how you cut it. Smaller chunks or thinner slices will bake more quickly.
Roasting and Pureeing Eggplant
This is a great method to use on eggplant if you want to use it in a sauce at some point down the road. You can freeze the pureed eggplant to make it last even longer.
- Follow the instructions for roasting eggplant (above).
- Use a large spoon to scoop out the soft flesh of the eggplant, discarding the skins.
- Combine the eggplant with garlic, lemon, salt, and olive oil to taste in the bowl of a blender and pulse to combine. Adding spices is optional.
- Freeze the pureed eggplant if you like to preserve it for even longer. If you freeze them in ice cube trays you can pop them out easily later and store them in a heavy-duty Ziploc bag.
To safely can any food item it needs to either naturally have an acidic pH or you need to add something to bring the pH down (like vinegar or lemon juice). Eggplants don’t naturally have a low enough acidity to can by themselves, so to preserve them you must add some kind of acid. In this case, vinegar and salt will help you do this.
So for the case of eggplants, canning them is faster and easier than even using a water bath canner, because you’ll primarily rely on additives to preserve them.
A water bath canner is essentially a large pot with a removable rack on the inside, and most can be purchased for a reasonable price.
Ingredients to can eggplant:
- 16 mini eggplants, or 6-8 regular eggplants
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 cups white vinegar
- 6 cups water
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Oregano (to taste)
- Black pepper (to taste)
- Red pepper flakes (to taste)
To can eggplant:
- Rinse the eggplant and cut them into strips, cubes, or slices
- Lay the eggplants in a colander and sprinkle generously with salt. Allow the eggplants to drain for 1-3 hours.
- Wipe the salt off with a paper towel and squeeze out any remaining liquid.
- Bring water and vinegar to a boil, and boil eggplants for 3 minutes.
- Lay the eggplant in a sterilized canning jar, adding garlic, black pepper, and oregano between each layer of eggplant.
- Pack the eggplant down with a sterilized spoon, then pour olive oil over the top.
- Finish off the top of the jar with a few spoonfuls of water and vinegar.
- Close the lid and rest the jars in a cool, dark space for a minimum of one week.
Don’t be intimidated by the pickling process—it is quite easy! Eggplants pickle just as well as other veggies and are an easy way to use up your extra eggplant, especially the ones that may have gotten a bit old and you don’t want to feature in a fresh dish. Pickled veggies are also very good for gut health, so eat up!
When pickling anything with a low acid content like eggplant be sure to read the instructions on your canning machine to the “T” to avoid spoiling your food. Below I’ve included a few simple pickling recipes.
Italian Pickled Eggplant
Italian pickled eggplants are cooked in vinegar before you add any oil. Doing it in this order ensures that the eggplants get pickled (aka preserved) properly. This recipe is modified from a classic Italian pickled eggplant recipe.
Ingredients for Italian Pickled Eggplant:
- 2.5-3 pounds of eggplant
- 1.5 c. white wine vinegar
- 2.5 c. water
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch Italian parsley
- 1 tsp. Dried red pepper flakes
- 1-2 tsp oregano
- 1-2.5 c. extra-virgin olive oil
To make Italian pickled eggplant:
- Wash the eggplants
- Peel and slice the eggplants into about ½’’ rounds or strips.
- Lay down a layer of the strips into a colander, season with salt (don’t be shy on this step), and then place another layer on top of that, repeating until you’ve used all the eggplant.
- Place the colander in the sink with a heavy plate or pan set on top of the eggplant. The salt will draw the water out of the eggplant and the heavy place will help “smoosh” it all out. Let it drain for four to six hours.
- After they are drained, don’t rinse the eggplant, but do squeeze out any extra moisture.
- Boil the eggplants in 1.25 cups of vinegar plus the water. As soon as the mixture starts to boil take the eggplants off the heat (still in the pot), and allow them to cool inside the pot.
- Press as much water out of the eggplants as you can. A paper towel helps in this step.
- Next put all the seasonings (garlic, parsley, etc) in a bowl and add in the eggplant.
- Pour in 1-2 cups of olive oil and .25 cups of vinegar, and mix the ingredients.
- Pack the eggplant in jars, adding in more olive oil to ensure there isn’t any space between the top of the jar and the lid.
- Place the eggplant in a refrigerator and let sit for 24 hours before eating.
Canning Pickled Eggplant
You can take your pickled eggplant and preserve it by canning it. Canned pickled eggplant keeps its flavor nicely and would be a nice addition to a salad.
- Pour water, salt, and vinegar into a large stockpot to make a brine and bring this mixture to a boil.
- Prepare your canning jars as instructed by your canning manual. This usually involves washing and sterilizing the jars and lids.
- Add a clove of garlic, one dill sprig, and one bay leaf to each jar.
- Fill the jar with the pickled eggplant.
- Pour the brine over the eggplant, stopping when there is ¼’’ of “headspace” below the rim of the jar.
- Secure the sterilized lids onto the jars.
- Bring the water in your canner (water bath canner, not pressure canner) to a full boil and carefully place the jars into the canner using tongs.
- Allow the jars to boil for 15 minutes then remove them with tongs to cool off.
Pickled Grilled Eggplant
Pickling grilled eggplant ensures you preserve that smokey, grilled flavor for the future. To pickle grilled eggplant simply follow the procedure for grilling eggplant (above) then follow the steps to pickle the eggplant (above).
Be sure to start the pickling process by allowing the grilled eggplant to drain while coated in salt. This is still an important step in the preservation process.
You will need to can this eggplant salsa once you make it to preserve it. Here are the instructions! This recipe is adapted from Healthy Canning.
Ingredients for eggplant salsa:
- 4 cups peeled, diced eggplant
- ½ Tbs. salt
- 1 c. diced, roasted red bell pepper
- 2.5 cups chopped and peeled tomato
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ¾ c. finely chopped onion
- Red pepper flakes (to taste)
- ¼ c. red wine vinegar
- ¾ tsp. Dried oregano
- ⅛ tsp. Black pepper
To make eggplant salsa:
- Wash, peel, and cube the eggplant.
- Sprinkle the eggplant with salt and let it sit for a few hours in a colander in the sink to drain excess liquid. Squeeze the eggplants after a few hours to remove the last bits of moisture.
- Add eggplant, red pepper, tomato, garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes to a heated pan (medium heat).
- Add the rest of the ingredients on the list to the pan.
- Simmer the mixture for 10 minutes, then let it simmer uncovered for another 10-15 minutes.
- Use a sterilized spoon to transfer the salsa into clean mason jars, leaving about ¼ inch of headspace.
- Add the lids and submerge the cans in a water bath canner for about 20 minutes.
Dehydrating eggplant may not be one of the first things you think of as a way to preserve eggplant. After all, what would you do with it once it’s dehydrated? Well, it turns out dehydrated eggplant is excellent in soups once it’s re-hydrated.
If you don’t own a food dehydrator, you can use your oven at the lowest temperature setting.
To dehydrate eggplant:
- Remove the skin and cut it into small cubes. About 1 inch on each side is a good size for dehydrating.
- Place the cubes in a dehydrator at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 24 hours. Be sure to check the cubes regularly to determine when they’re done.
- Dehydrated eggplant can be stored in a cool, dry jar for up to a year.
Turn dried eggplant into a snack in itself with eggplant jerky. To flavor eggplant jerky use any spice combination you like. The drying process should “preserve” the eggplant without the need for an acid or salt, but both vinegar and salt make great flavor additions to jerky.
Other additions to make tasty eggplant jerky:
- Curry powder
- Maple syrup
- Balsamic vinegar
- Truffle salt
- Pre-made BBQ sauce
To make eggplant jerky:
- Wash the eggplant and cut it into strips. You can choose whether to remove the skin or not. Just keep in mind that the skin will get very chewy when dried.
- Marinade the eggplant strips in your chosen sauce for at least 3 hours.
- Place the strips on baking sheets lined with parchment paper or in a dehydrator. Be sure the stips aren’t overlapping anywhere.
- If you use the oven, use the lowest heat setting. On a dehydrator, aim for about 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The amount of time needed to dry your eggplant jerky will depend on how thick you cut your strips, so check their progress regularly.
Mediterranean Eggplant Chips
Mediterranean eggplant chips are a variation on the eggplant jerky, but while the jerky will be chewy at the end, these will be nice and crisp, plus have a lovely Mediterranean flavor.
To make Mediterranean eggplant chips:
- Slice small eggplants into thin disks.
- Marinate the disks in a mixture of olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, a pinch of cayenne, plus lots of salt and pepper.
- Place the chips in a dehydrator or oven (see my note above for dehydrating eggplant in the oven).
Sea Salt and Vinegar Eggplant Chips
One of my favorite snacks is salt and vinegar potato chips, and guess what, you can make your own at home using your leftover eggplant!
Ingredients for salt and vinegar eggplant chips:
- 4 baby eggplants
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- ½ tsp. Salt
- ¼ tsp. Black pepper
To make salt and vinegar eggplant chips:
- Wash and slice the eggplants very thin
- Lay them in a colander sprinkled with salt and allow them to sit for 2 hours to let the moisture drain out.
- Press the eggplant down into the colander to get rid of the last of the water.
- Combine the oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper into a bowl, and add the eggplant slices.
- Bake the eggplant slices at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for 2-3 hours, or until the chips become crispy.
- It may be helpful to flip the chips halfway through.