09 Aug Eggplant (Storage + Cooking Tips)
Many people give eggplants a bad rap for their bitter taste or rubbery texture, but both of these can be avoided with freshness and proper storage. Eggplants are sensitive to cold temperatures, so storing them in the cold parts of your refrigerator for long periods of time can damage the tissue which results in an unpleasant taste and texture. Instead, store eggplants on a shelf in the front of your fridge or in a cool spot on your kitchen counter, out of direct sunlight and away from tomatoes, bananas, apples, and other ethylene-producers that will accelerate spoiling. Either way, eggplants have the best taste and texture when used within 1-2 days.
Another trick for improving the taste and texture of eggplants is sprinkling them with salt to extract moisture before cooking. After washing your eggplant, slice it to the desired thickness, sprinkle both sides with salt, and place in a colander or perforated bowl for 10 minutes. Rinse away excess salt and pat dry. This allows the eggplant to soak up the liquid in your recipe, reducing any bitter taste or mushy texture.
The entire eggplant can be eaten. However, the skin sometimes has a bitter taste, so many people prefer to peel the skin off. Clean the eggplant by running under cold running water and wiping dry with a paper towel or wipe off with a damp paper towel. Trim the stem off from the eggplant.
Eggplants absorb liquids very easily. To reduce the amount of moisture an eggplant will absorb during cooking, a common preparation method includes “salting” or “purging” the eggplant. To salt the eggplant, slice into pieces, wash under cold water, lay the pieces on a rack or paper towels, and then rub the vegetable with salt. Let the salt set for ½ hour to an hour. Once the slices have sat for the appropriate time, wipe the salt from the slices with a paper towel. (Do not rinse off with water because that will cause the eggplant to absorb moisture back into it.) After wiping the salt off, firmly squeeze the slices between the palms of your hands to get the excess moisture out of them, then pat dry with a paper towel. Slices are ready to cook
There are a few ways to freeze eggplant depending on what you want to do with it afterwards, but keep in mind that freezing and defrosting eggplant will result in a softer texture.
To freeze for general use, slice your eggplant to the desired size and blanch in boiling water for 4 minutes. Immediately place in a bowl of ice water, then drain and transfer to a freezer-safe airtight container for freezing.
For eggplant that you plan to roast after defrosting, you can go ahead and roast it before you freeze. Wash eggplant and slice to desired size, then drizzle with olive oil and seasonings and roast at 375-400 degrees for about 30 minutes. Allow eggplant to cool, then transfer to a freezer-safe airtight container for freezing.