Eggplants are ovular vegetables with a taste and consistency similar to squash. Brining eggplants before using them in soups, salads or pastas removes a distinct bitter taste that many individuals find unpalatable. The saltiness of brine lightly infuses the eggplant and negates the need to season it prior to use.
Eggplants typically have a vibrant, purple exterior with a smooth flavor and texture. Each 1-cup serving contains significant amounts of dietary fiber, manganese, potassium and vitamin C with just under 20 calories. You can eat eggplants with or without their skin. However, larger eggplants have tough and flavorless skin that can detract from a dish. Apart from reducing bitterness and adding flavor, brining eggplants dries out their flesh, reducing the amount of oil they absorb while cooking.
Before brining eggplants, wash and cut them so they are ready to use immediately. Prior to cutting, thoroughly rinse the exteriors of the eggplants with warm, running water. Slice off the ends and discard them. If you prefer, remove the skin with a vegetable peeler. Dice or slice the eggplants into suitable pieces for your recipe. Use a stainless steel blade, as carbon metals can turn eggplant flesh black.
You can use one of two methods to brine the eggplant slices. The first, known as sweating, uses no added liquid. Place the eggplant slices in a bowl and toss them with 1 tablespoon of table salt. Allow the eggplant to brine for 30 minutes and rinse the salt away with cool water.
The second brining method uses liquid brine. Put the eggplant slices in a bowl and add enough cool water to cover them. Add 1 teaspoon of table salt for each cup of water and stir to dissolve the salt. Allow the eggplant to brine for one hour. Drain the water and thoroughly rinse the eggplant slices in cool water.
After either method, squeeze each eggplant slice gently with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Once the eggplant is dry, use it in your recipe as directed. The methods produce similar results, but sweating takes half the time.
Refrigerate leftover brined eggplant in an airtight container to preserve its texture and taste. Use the brined eggplant in a recipe within one to two days. Alternately, place it in a plastic sandwich bag, press as much air out as possible and freeze the brined eggplant for up to four months. Allow the eggplant to thaw in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours before use.
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