Tuesday, December 27, 2011

PRESERVED EGGPLANT ITALIAN STYLE



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I am moved into my new home – albeit not completely unpacked and organized, yet – the holiday season has passed, and I have slowed down on my canning and preserving, so I finally have a few moments to post some more recipes and photos from all my small batches I put by at the end of the harvest season!

I really, really like eggplant. I like it as parmigiana or as a grinder, sprinkled on an antipasto salad, on bruschetta or focaccia – or if it is Preserved Italian Style in oil, sometimes I like it straight from the jar.




A variety of eggplants and tomatoes, fresh from the garden, ready for preserving.

The problem here in the United States is that when you preserve certain vegetables in oil the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consider it ‘risky business’. The Italians have been doing it for centuries without serious consequences, but I would not advise anyone to can or preserve something in a way that could be detrimental to their health. The recipe I am going to share with you should be refrigerated. Because the eggplant is soaked in red wine vinegar (making it ‘acidic’) before canning, the process is safe.

As a disclaimer, though, I must insist that anyone planning on canning or preserving fruits and vegetables should educate himself or herself with the processes for safe canning and preserving. A great place to start is with the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s guidelines found here.

In the meantime, if you would like to preserve Eggplant Italian Style, it is fairly simple. All you need are some sterile jars and lids and a few basic ingredients: Eggplant, Red Wine Vinegar, fresh Basil, dried Red Chilies and good Olive Oil.

Simply peel your eggplant and cut it into squares. I like mine about ½” in size. Toss these with plenty of salt, and then set them in a colander inside a large bowl to drain for a minimum of 1 to 2 hours, but it is best if you can let them rest overnight. They should shed a substantial amount of liquid.


Stone Crock, Red Wine Vinegar and Eggplants.

After the cubes have rested, press as much remaining liquid out of the eggplant as you can. Use your hands, a wooden spoon, a dessert plate – whatever works for you. Then let the eggplant rest on some paper towels and drain for another little bit.

While the eggplant cubes are resting, get yourself a stone crock that is clean and sterile (make sure you rinse thoroughly with boiling water) or similar deep container that will hold your cubed eggplant with a little headspace. Make sure you have a clean plate whose circumference is slightly smaller than your stone crock or container, and a clean jar filled with dried rice or water. The jar will be used to weigh down the plate, keeping the eggplant cubes submerged in the Red Wine Vinegar.

Cubed eggplant in the crock soaking in red wine vinegar.

Place the drained eggplant into your container and cover with red wine vinegar, cover with plate and rest jar on top, if necessary - then set aside for 1 to 2 hours. Pour eggplant into a colander and press off red wine vinegar.

Using a slotted spoon pack the eggplant into pint jars, layering with 2 or 3 leaves of fresh basil. Press each layer down firmly, and pour any excess vinegar out of jar. Top with one small dried red chili pepper. When each jar is full, cover the contents with your favorite olive oil leaving a ¼” of headspace. Secure the lids on the jars and refrigerate.

Let the flavors meld for at least a week, before decanting. When ready to use remove from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before using in your favorite recipe. Return any leftovers to the refrigerator after opening.


Preserved Eggplant Italian Style!


11 comments:

  1. 12 HOURS IN THE CROCK!!!! I'd probably start picking at it as soon as I poured the red wine vinegar on it........just to check how it's coming along By the time I put it in olive oil there would be just a few cubes left. Seriously though I never thought of doing up eggplant. Mostly I like it,like you,parmesan or in a sandwich, and of course as the main ingredient in a veggie torta.I will give this a try when it's garden season

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  2. @Hobbit - OMG, grammatical error. Thanks for pointing this out. Suppose to say a minimum of 1 to 2 hours, although my last batch I did leave for 1 day. Made the batch more vinegar-y, but perfect for antipasto salads. Let me know how yours turns out when it is eggplant season again!

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  3. Awesome, receipt!! Gonna pick some up from work tomorrow and give it a go! NYE treat! regards, Lawrence

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  4. @Lawrence Fowler - Did you ever pot up any eggplants? What did you think?

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  5. I wanted to thank you for this excellent read!! I definitely loved every bit
    of it. I have you bookmarked to look at new stuff you post…
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  6. I'm new to canning. So new that this might be my first go at it! I do have a few questions. Does the eggplant need to cook in the crock pot? If not, is there a reason I can't just fill the jars up with vinegar and let them soak in there (assuming I can get them all covered)? I am a wuss when it comes to heat... should I leave the chilis out? And finally, how long are they good for in the fridge?

    Like I said, I'm new so you aren't going to offend me by starting slow :)

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    1. I am so glad you have decided to try your hand at canning.

      The crock I am referring to is a stone pot (see photo above), not a modern 'Crock Pot' used for slow cooking, so no you are not cooking the eggplant in the crock.

      You can use any kind of ceramic or metal bowl for the same purpose as the crock, which is simply a sterile receptacle to hold the cubed eggplant while it is marinading in the vinegar. The vinegar not only adds some flavor to the eggplant, but also acidity, a very important step when canning certain fruits and vegetables.

      I would like to suggest that you visit the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s guidelines website (link above) and always read all the directions completely and follow each step precisely when using canning recipes, and of course, always ask questions if something is not clear to you. Canning is an age old tradition enjoying a rebirth, so there is plenty of help out their for the novice.

      I hope this answers your question. Please let me know how you make out with this recipe.

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    2. Do you have to boil the jars after they are filled with the eggplant so that they vacuum seal?

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    3. Eugenia Bone says she would never preserve in oil without refrigeration, or water-bath-can marinated foods, without ensuring that their pH level is 4.5 or lower. (Bone is the author of Well-Preserved: Recipes and Techniques for Putting Up Small Batches of Seasonal Foods.) However, she also admits that she would never refuse marinated artichokes that have been marinated in vinegar then preserved in olive oil by a relative who has made it to the age of 90, even though she keeps the artichokes at room temperature. You can always add bottled lemon juice to help lower the pH if you are fearful that the vinegar didn’t do the trick.

      While the powers that be will tell you it is not safe to can anything in oil, I would say, yes, you may Hot Water Bath process this recipe, but you want to make sure that you keep the jars in a cool, dark location or in the refrigerator . Oil keeps air away from food, and slows the growth of spoiling agents. But Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium that causes botulism, becomes active in warm, anaerobic environments. So just keep your cool and throw away anything that smells bad, bubbles, or has formed some kind of moldy residue in the jar.

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  7. Re eggplant which i have loved since I was a child (yes i was strange even then): If we actually get a summer this year and achieve growing some, I am going to definitly giving this preserved eggplant recipe a go. Otherwise I will buy cheap boxes of eggplant if they are available, like the peppers I bought recently to pickle and make LOTS!!! I am learning so much reading your blog and other information on preserving; what makes things acidic and various processes. I placed the roasted peppers into the hot marinade as you suggested (I turned my back and it went to boiling point but I turned it down and scooped them into jars before bringiing the marinade back to the boil, turning it off and filling the jars. I then sealed the jars, while still hot. The lids have sealed with the little 'pop-up' bit in the centre being sucked down when i pushed with my finger gently down on it as they cooled. I wonder if i really should give them a hot bath if they have sealed properly? I will loosen the lids and go through the process if needed of course. I guess this is extra protection against any potential lurking bacteria if acidity level is not high enough and if the contents have not been processed properly.

    I make tomato relish with an old recipe of my husband's Granny and she didn't put them in a bath. She lived in the tropics (as we once did) and kept them in a cupboard for literally years without them going off, though I understand peppers haven't got the acidity of tomatoes. I guess the bath would still be a safer way to go, though i found a bottle of my own relish from 3 years ago and it was still fine! A friend of mine also does a lot of pickling and turns jars upside down to cool for a more successful sealing and air extraction and only uses this method now, though she has not made peppers this way. I do the upside down thing all the time too, when making jams, chutneys and other pickles. Peppers and eggplant are new to me. i want to try beans next also. I am having a great time looking at your recipes, though I can not seem to find your facebook page as you suggested.

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  8. I am so glad I found this site and this recipe. I have a bench full of gorgeous ripe shiny eggplants I have just picked. I picked 12 and there are at least another 20 so I was looking for a recipe to save some for later.
    I have loads or Roma tomatoes and capsicum too... But I am going to try this recipe and another that puts everything in together... Guess where I will be today, at least it is cool, Linda in Australia

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