Now here’s a recipe that can not deny its Sicilian roots. If you have had pickled eggplant before, you may have had the one you can purchase in the grocery store. If that was your response than the real answer is “you really have NOT tasted pickled eggplant”.
I’ve been making pickled eggplant for many, many, years. It usually gets debuted for the holidays; great in salads and great as a side dish or as part of your antipasto spread.
If you have read the recipe over don’t be alarmed thinking there is just too much to do. It’s really not much to do at all; I have just gone into detail because I want you to be aware of the many things to take into account.
But, I would set aside at least 3 hours uninterrupted kitchen time which you could have to yourself to accomplish this recipe. So you can concentrate on the steps that you need to carry this recipe out.
Actually I just recently learned a lot more about eggplants the hard way. I now know there are male and female eggplants and that female eggplants are not the sex you want for making pickled eggplant.
Reason being they have a ton of seeds inside and this makes for very poor shaped french fry cut eggplant, they will fall apart and you will have a ton of seeds in your pickling solution. All information that I’m letting you in on so you do not make that mistake.
You asked, “How can I know the difference when going to the farmers’ market?” First off you going to look at the bottom of the eggplant, the male eggplant will be shallow and round. A female eggplant has a deep indentation and shaped like a dash. Female eggplants have many seeds, you won’t be able to know this from the whole eggplant in your hand but you can check the bottom. If you ask the clerk more than likely they will not know the difference. But take my word for it, seeds are no fun.
Lastly, I want to give you a little information about crocks. They are a great investment. Not only can you use it for pickled eggplant but you can use it for pickles, pickled cherry peppers, and sauerkraut, too. You get these on Amazon, eBay, Facebook, and Craig’s List.
You also want to do a little research on brands and finishes. You want to be sure there is not any lead in the glaze and it is fired in a kiln at a high temperature. I have purchased one off of a web site but when cleaning up after completing my eggplants, a few years back, I, unfortunately, was clumsy and dropped it and it broke in two. You know the saying “that’s how the cookie crumbles” no pun intended.
The second one I purchased was at an estate sale for $5. That is one of my best deals that I have come across. Hope you can find a reasonable one!!
If you have a desire to do a little preserving this is a very good place to start. It’s not a hard recipe, maybe a few more steps than the average recipe but oh, how the reward will outweigh the work!! You will be receiving many compliments for it, as well! And you will have taken a few names off your Christmas gift list just for making it!! Good luck; send me your pictures!!
Josie’s Sicilian Pickled Eggpant
It's that time of the year I like to do a little preserving. All the fruits and vegetables are now very plentiful. It's also very reasonable. So what better time to take advantage of putting up some vegetables and fruits. The recipe I'm going to show you today is Josie's Pickled Eggplant. This is very well-liked and known in Italian culture. But once you taste them you will be hooked like the rest of us. They are great in salads, anti-pastas, and Italian subs. When setting out to accomplish this task you really must set enough time aside since it is a multi-step/task recipe. One very important requirement of making this recipe is the use of a large ceramic clay crock. I have heard of people using a large stockpot but my preference is the preserving crock. This process will take you one week to fulfill all the steps. This pickled eggplant makes great gifts too. So you might want to think of that before walking pass a bushel of these beauties at the farmers market. You'll also need a couple of bulbs of fresh garlic and some long fresh hot peppers and a few things more which I'll list in the recipe below. I hope you give it a try and send me your pictures of your finished product, I will love to see them.
- 1 bushel eggplants ( Try and purchase the male eggplants since they have fewer seeds.) The fresher the better, if you can get them the day they are picked they will be easy to work with. Make sure you check the bottom of the eggplant; a male eggplant will have fewer seeds and the bottom will have a shallow indentation and will be round whereas a female will have many more seeds and a deep indentation which will look like a dash. Make sure you get that right because you will not like all the seeds the female plant gives you. They will weaken the french fry cut of the eggplant and add way too many seeds to your concoction.
- 2 bulbs fresh garlic skinned and chopped I'll say the same thing for the garlic as well.
- 6 long hot peppers Chopped including the seeds. (Don't discard the seeds. They give a lot of flavor to the concoction.)
- white vinegar
- 1 cup salt
- extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
You are going to start by peeling all your eggplants. As you peel them you're going to put them through the vegetable chopper cutting them in a french fry style cut. After cutting your going to place them in your crock or large stockpot. As you get it about halfway full you're going to salt them down and stir them up; bringing the top to the bottom and bottom to the top distributing the salt throughout the whole amount of eggplant in the crock. This is going to help release the water that's locked in the eggplant. ( I glove my hands with surgical gloves since the salt will be harsh and it definitely is more sanitary)
Now, you are going to let your cut eggplants sit for about a half-hour while you clean up a bit. Cut your hot peppers and your garlic and be very liberal with your garlic; you'll need at least 2 whole bulbs of garlic chopped.
Now, you are going to squeeze out your eggplant of excessive water and dump out all the water which has developed from you putting the salt in the eggplant. Rinse your crock/stockpot out, too.
Now that everything is prepared you are going to begin the final step. Beginning with preparing the vinegar concoction. To every cup of white vinegar, you are going to equal that with 1 cup of water. I used 8 cups of white vinegar and 8 cups of water.
Before adding your liquid you are going to put back the squeezed out eggplants into your crock along with the cut hot peppers and chopped garlic, oregano (the amount is to your discretion. I usually prefer at least a couple hand fulls), salt and freshly ground black pepper.
After that is complete you are going to add your liquid. You want the eggplant to sit below the liquid level, so it will be marinating in the vinegar solution and the herbs. To do that fit a dish over the eggplants in the crock so it is held under the vinegar solution. Cover with either a wooden lid or a pot lid to fit correctly so no fruit flys can get in.
This will sit for 7 days periodically (every other day) you will stir the concoction so that all the flavors will come together.
On your seventh day, you will take the lid off and with gloved hands again, squeeze the eggplant out and place them tightly in your clean sterilized mason jars. You might also add some whole peeled garlic cloves in between your eggplant. If its the pint-size jars I would only do 1 or 2 cloves, its will be more for visuals since you gave it the flavor from the chopped garlic you put into the concoction last week. (These are great for Christmas, hostess or housewarming gifts) Last step you are going to use either a wooden tongue depressor(can get in the craft store or a mini spatula) and you are going to top off with olive oil so that your eggplant will be sitting below the oil. You are going to manipulate your eggplant so that the oil is distributed throughout the entire jar and it is covered at the top with the oil.
Now you are going to put your new lids on and tighten firmly. This is not a sealed jar, it is preserved with the oil BUT I would not just leave them on a shelf in your pantry; I would take the precaution and store them either in the refrigerator or the freezer. Another rule of thumb to follow is your state's guidelines for preserving vegetables and fruits. Every state has them. Ultimately it is your choice on sealing your jars. Any questions direct them to your states's home economics division.