One of our favorite things is our grandparent’s homemade pickled eggplant. It’s the perfect snack or antipasto and pairs perfectly with some fresh bread and homemade cured meats. When we moved into our new house my Nonna Pina gifted us with a basket of her jarred goodies. It was honestly the best and consisted of: pickled beans, hot pepper oil (Marco’s favorite), pickled beets (um so good but dangerous, hello sugar), homemade salsa, and pickled eggplant. The eggplant was like candy and we made it our goal to try to make our own in the Fall. Fast forward a couple months we got a bushel and a half of eggplant and went to town. We made a couple of rookie mistakes along the way like starting too late in the evening and therefore messing up our step 2 timeline and adding a day to our process, and not pressing them down enough in the jars which causes air pockets which aren’t recommended for preservation. But that said, it was the best experience because we got to video call Nonna Pina and Nonno Cosimo every night for 4 days and ask questions, show them the process and laugh together. Plus, it tastes pretty darn good!
What you will need: a pail (the circle ones you get at Canadian Tire), cheesecloth, pickling salt, eggplant, olive oil, vinegar, water, dried oregano, hot pepper, black pepper, some sort of weight for the pail/pressing step (use a plate and then something very heavy on-top), a big pot for sealing the jars, jars, and gloves so your hands don’t get black like mine did 😉
Step 1 (Day One):
- Peel the eggplant (wear gloves for this step), cut into 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick slices the long way.
- Layer eggplant slices in the pail and add a generous layer of pickling salt. repeat until you are done.
- Once the pail is full and eggplant all used up, place a plate on the top of the pail and add weight to it. We used some bottles of vinegar, my grandparents usually use a water gallon jug.
- Let sit for 1 day
Step 2 (Day Two):
- You should see black water appear in your pail, this is good, it’s all the sourness from the eggplant leaving.
- Now with a cheesecloth squeeze all the juice from the eggplant.
- Boil vinegar and water (2 parts water to 1 part vinegar) i.e. 2 cups water 1 cup vinegar
- When the vinegar starts boiling dump the eggplant in, don’t let it cook too much to make form foam, poke it with a fork to check the consistency. It should be al-dente.
- Strain it again with the cheesecloth and place it on a table (make sure you put a table cloth down). Let this all dry until tomorrow.
Step 3 (Day Three):
- Now strain your eggplant one last time, note: I didn’t see much liquid come out at this step which is ok.
- In a big mixing bowl or Tupperware add the eggplant and your seasonings (olive oil, oregano, black pepper, pepper). Season generously and try it to ensure it’s right for you. Note, we didn’t add enough hot pepper even though we thought we did, so next time we will add quite a bit more.
- Now it’s ready for jars, ensure they are cleaned and sterilized before this step. Press your eggplant in the jars and ensure there are no air pockets, use a spoon or fork to press them as tight as you can. Once they are tightly in the jar add more olive oil to ensure the eggplant is covered.
- Seal the jars in a pot of boiling water and you are good to go!
We hope you enjoy the recipe, please share any pictures of stories of your eggplant adventures. It gave us such joy to embark on this four day adventure (took us one day extra due to timing haha). Seeing our grandparents so proud of us and tasting our eggplant was a definitely a highlight.