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What Is Pickled Eggplant?

By Angela Farrer
Updated May 16, 2024
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Pickled eggplant is a type of preserved vegetable normally made by first washing and slicing the eggplant before straining out the juices and then sealing the slices in sterilized glass jars. The eggplant pieces are sometimes flavored with spices according to different cooks' preferences, and vinegar is also a common ingredient in pickled eggplant. Some recipes for preparing eggplant involve cooking while others do not. Correctly making these pickled vegetables generally requires a canning kit with jars that can be properly sealed to prevent contamination during storage.

Cooks who are experienced in preserve-making often report that the most important part of making pickled eggplant is selecting the right equipment. Glass jars with rubber seals around the rims are designed to store preserved foods safely for relatively long time periods. Some newcomers to making preserves reuse jars that originally held sauces or condiments, but this practice is usually considered risky because of the higher chances of harmful bacterial invasion. Other tools for canning pickled eggplant include a cooking pot large enough to sterilize the jars and a pair of tongs to remove them from the boiling water.

Once the pickling jars are properly sterilized in boiling water and removed to cool off, the eggplant is usually sliced into thin strips that are roughly 0.2 inches (about 0.5 cm) wide. Many recipes instruct the home cook to place these eggplant pieces in a colander and then squeeze out the juices that would otherwise make the pickled eggplant taste bitter. Adding a coating of salt to the eggplant is another common recipe step, and the eggplant juices are usually strained through the colander under the weight of a heavy mixing bowl.

Recipes that call for cooked eggplant often call for the vegetable to be boiled in a mixture of water and vinegar or spread on a cookie sheet and baked in the oven. The choice of these methods is usually a matter of individual preferences. Before the cooked eggplant is transferred to the storage jars, it is typically combined with a mixture of olive oil and the flavoring ingredients of choice such as garlic, mint, cayenne pepper, basil, lemon, or honey. Additional olive oil is usually added to the pickled eggplant in the jars to preserve the vegetable's moisture. When properly canned, pickled eggplant can have up to a one-year storage life, just as with other types of preserved foods.

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Discussion Comments
By SteamLouis — On Apr 09, 2014

I didn't realize that vegetables preserved with oil could be considered pickles as well. I thought that pickles could only be made with brine, that is vinegar.

By bluedolphin — On Apr 09, 2014

We can find most vegetables at the store throughout the year nowadays. But in the old days when vegetables were only available when they were in season, people used to can them or pickle them so that they can be enjoyed later on.

So although pickled eggplants are not as popular as before, some people still like them. My husband for example loves the Greek stuffed eggplant pickles. They are stuffed with red peppers and are a bit spicy. I'm not too fond of them but he is hooked on them.

By ZipLine — On Apr 08, 2014

When I was young, my mom used to make this amazing eggplant pickle. I'm not sure if it's right to call it a pickle because the eggplants were preserved in a base of oil, along with chili and garlic. But it was the most delicious eggplant preserve. It was spicy and savory and could be eaten as a side dish or as an appetizer with bread or crackers.

Reading this article has made me crave it. I'm going to ask my mom to make it for me. She hasn't made it in quite a while because it's a bit difficult to make.

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