In the world of home preservation, dehydrating eggplant is a somewhat unexplored terrain. Eggplant, while delicious and nutritious, is not the best candidate for preservation through canning.
The most effective method I’ve discovered for keeping eggplant fresh and palatable is dehydration. Let’s see how to dehydrate eggplant in just a few easy steps.
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In this article:
Key Takeaways [TL;DR]
- 🍆 Preserving eggplant through canning is not successful, so dehydrating is the best option.
- 🌱 To prevent eggplant from turning black when dehydrating, it is important to spray and toss the cubes with water before the process.
- 🍽️ Growing an abundance of eggplant ensures a year-round food supply and the ability to enjoy different preparations beyond the usual eggplant parmesan.
- ⚠️ Dehydrated eggplants can darken due to a chemical reaction with oxygen, but it doesn’t make them unsafe to eat.
- 🌡️ Dehydrating eggplant: It’s important to monitor the temperature and adjust it accordingly to ensure proper dehydration and preservation.
- 🥬 Dehydrating food is amazing because it allows the food to last for years, providing long-term preservation and sustainability.
- 🌿 Eggplant absorbs flavors from other ingredients when sautéed, making it a great addition to sauces and pans.
The Prepping Stage
Begin by acquiring a fresh eggplant. Remember, we will be working with sharp tools, so handle the eggplant carefully to avoid any injuries. The first step is to remove the top of the eggplant, which can be prickly. While this piece isn’t edible, it’s perfect for your compost bin.
Next, you’ll need a spray bottle filled with lemon juice. The reason behind using lemon juice is to prevent the eggplant from turning brown once it’s cut, which happens quite fast. A quick spritz on the cut surface will suffice.
To dehydrate your eggplant, there are a few items you should gather:
It’s worth noting that immersing your eggplant in lemon juice isn’t recommended. Eggplant tends to absorb liquids like a sponge, and excessive lemon juice can give it an undesired flavor.
Slicing and Spraying the Eggplant
Next, cut your eggplant into slices. Aim for a thickness of about half to three-quarters of an inch. Apply a light spray of lemon juice to each freshly cut surface to maintain its color.
Once the eggplant is sliced, cut the skin off each slice. You should then chop the eggplant into cubes that are roughly an inch in size. After chopping, give your eggplant cubes a quick spray and toss to ensure all sides are evenly coated in lemon juice.
The Dehydration Process
You might notice that the amount of eggplant you end up with is quite substantial, even from a single vegetable. This is a big part of why dehydration is such an effective method for food preservation. You can preserve large quantities of food without wasting anything.
The dehydration process itself takes about 20 hours. Start by drying the eggplant at around 125 degrees Fahrenheit in your food dehydrator. If the eggplant isn’t fully dried by bedtime, reduce the heat to 110 or 115 degrees Fahrenheit and let it continue drying overnight.
Storing the Dehydrated Eggplant
Once the eggplant is dried, it’s time to store it. Wearing a glove to avoid transferring oils from your skin to the food, transfer your dehydrated eggplant into jars. Seal the jars to create an airtight environment that will ensure your dehydrated eggplant remains preserved.
Dehydrated eggplant resembles dried mushrooms and can be stored for years, if necessary. The dehydration process removes moisture, leaving behind a durable and long-lasting food source.
Using Dehydrated Eggplant
Dehydrated eggplant is excellent in soups and stews. While it doesn’t have a robust flavor on its own, it’s perfect for absorbing other flavors in your dish. Try sautéing some before adding it to your sauce or pan.
As you can see, the process of preserving eggplant through dehydration is quite straightforward and provides a sustainable, long-term solution for storing your eggplant. The result is a versatile ingredient ready to enhance your meals at any time of the year.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1: Do you peel eggplant before dehydrating?
Yes, it’s advised to peel the eggplant before dehydrating. The skin can be tough and may not dehydrate as well as the flesh of the eggplant.
Q2: Is eggplant good dehydrated?
Dehydrated eggplant can be an excellent addition to meals like stews, soups, or sauces. While the eggplant loses some of its flavor when dehydrated, it will absorb and enhance the flavors of the other ingredients in the dish.
Q3: How do you dehydrate eggplant with salt?
After peeling and cutting the eggplant into slices or cubes, sprinkle some salt over the pieces. The salt helps to draw out any bitterness. Rinse the salted pieces in cold water, pat them dry, and then proceed with the dehydration process.
Q4: How long to dehydrate eggplant in the oven?
The dehydration time for eggplant in an oven set to a low temperature (around 130°F to 140°F) can range from 10 to 12 hours. The exact timing will depend on the thickness of the slices or cubes.
Q5: How do you store dehydrated eggplant?
The best way to store dehydrated eggplant is in a sealed jar with all air removed. This can keep the dehydrated eggplant good for years.
Q6: Can you dehydrate eggplant without using lemon juice?
While lemon juice is used to prevent eggplant from browning, if you don’t have any available, you can dehydrate eggplant without it. However, you may notice a difference in the color of the finished product.
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