~Pickled Eggplant, also known as “Aubergine”~
The eggplant is very popular in a variety of cultures. What an interesting vegetable in deed. It’s a member of the nightshade family, and has been cultivated throughout the world dating back to the middle ages. This is the first year that I have tried growing some, and so far the results are good. With so many varieties to pick, I tried some small green and white striped ones . They seem pretty well resistant to the ferocious insects of Northern Ontario, and did not need very much of my attention, making them a winner for my garden. I like simple gardening with a high yield .
When investigating recipes to make this sinful condiment, I found that there are some people that like making it with whole round slices of eggplant, and some cut them into strips. I made strips for this recipe. I also found that some people like adding red or green peppers to them, and some not. So since I had alot of extra red bell peppers to use up, I added quite a bit to this batch, but it is really something of personal choice. I also love garlic, so was not shy with the garlic. This is the first time I made this and I was surprised at how easy and fast it was to make. After getting the basics, this is the way I made my simple version. It is a no fuss recipe, and there are only a couple of steadfast rules to follow in order to have good results. You may chose to use the common purple variety of eggplant to make this recipe, I only used smaller ones because that is what I produced in my garden
- 3 lbs(1.4kg) eggplant , any variety
- 2 cups(500mL) white wine vinegar
- 1 cup (250mL) water
- 2 cups(500mL) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 small sweet red peppers
- 12 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp(30 mL) crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp(30mL) dried oregano
- 2tbsp(30mL) black pepper
- 2-1 litre canning jars or 2 1qt. canning jars
The very first thing I did with this recipe was to boil the jars and lids first for 5 minutes to sterilize them, I did not come across any information regarding canning this product , so therefore I am putting them in the refrigerator and they will be consumed within a month or so anyway , they would not sit on the shelf around my house anyway , they go fast.
Wash the eggplant in cold water , cut ¼ inch off ends, and peel the skin off with knife or potato peeler. Then cut lengthwise into ¼ inch strips and then cut strips into sticks resembling shoestring french fries . So we should have a nice pile of eggplant sticks. Place the eggplant into a large strainer that is sitting over a bowl, and sprinkle with kosher sea salt , there are no exact measurements for this step, just sprinkle them as if you were seasoning them. The salt will draw the water out of the eggplant. Place a plate over the eggplant sitting in the strainer, and put a heavy can or object on top of the plate to weigh it down, this will squeeze out the water. Let sit like this for 2 -4 hours.
After 2-4 hours you have to rinse the eggplant in cold water 2 times to get the salt out , take handfuls of eggplant and squeeze out the excess water , then place on paper towels to pat dry. Then seed and chop the red pepper, and peel and chop the garlic .
Bring the vinegar and water to boil , reduce to simmer and add the eggplant for only ” 2 ” minutes , this is important . Do not go over the 2 minute mark or the eggplant will become mushy. Remove from heat immediately and strain.
Take your jars and place ¼ cup (60mL) of the olive oil to the bottom of each jar, and add a spoonful of the crushed red pepper flakes, garlic, oregano, and pinch of black pepper , and some of the chopped red peppers. Then put in some of the eggplant making sure to pack it down tight, and layer it up with some more garlic, oregano,crushed red pepper flakes, pepper, and red peppers, you can add more olive oil as well , there is no specific science to this recipe. The best I’ve ever tasted were made by little old Italian ladies, with no measuring spoons so that is why I love this recipe. Once you have your jars filled add a little of the olive oil to the top and place lid on jars. Refrigerate for a minimum of 3 days before using. Take jar out of refrigerator for 30 minutes before serving as the oil may become thick from the cold.
So there you go , I always loved this condiment and never thought of making it myself until I started growing eggplant myself , and had to think of other things to do with a surpluss of eggplant. I always say that people should not be afraid to try new things, and if you have the space try to grow something just so you can see how it grows and get to know it’s characteristics. So much of our food is purchased already processed and we are losing our knowledge of where food comes from . So explore , have fun , and enjoy!