Jul 6, 2023
Love eggplant but have to wait for the next harvest time to have it? Here’s how to freeze dry eggplant and have a tasty, versatile vegetable for unexpected times.
This will be food for you and your family, so you deserve only the best. And to get the best results, you must get the best vegetable for processing. How will you know that your eggplant is ideal to freeze dry? Here are the 3 things you need to look at.
Eggplant should have the right firmness. A hard eggplant is raw, while a firm eggplant with a slight give is best. If you got a soft eggplant, it’s either overripe or been on the shelf for too long.
The vegetable should have shiny, blemish-free skin. Don’t pick wrinkled ones since they’ve been sitting on the shelf for too long. Or they are already hypermature. Steer clear from those that have holes because this often indicates worms in the flesh.
A good eggplant should have a deep, dark purple color. Some have a lighter color; some have a dark tone, and the skin is almost black. Of course, some cultivars are cream-colored, while others have stripes or mottled patterns.
What’s important is an even color. Any discoloration can mean disease or loss of freshness.
The first thing you need to do is to wash the eggplant. Yes, whether it came from your garden, a farmer’s market, in a store, or if it’s certified organic. This will help remove all the debris and dirt that often cause food-borne illnesses. Once your vegetable is clean, it’s time to prepare it the way you want it.
You can freeze dry eggplant by cutting the vegetable in half. What you need is to expose as much of the flesh as possible. Think of the skin of the eggplant like that of a grape. It prevents moisture from coming out of the eggplant, making it challenging to freeze-dry.
You can slice the eggplant into long thin sheets, half-moons, or cube it. You can go for circles or disks too. Just keep the thickness to a maximum of 1/2 or 3/4 of an inch thick. Any thicker and your freeze dryer won’t work as efficiently.
Eggplant turns brown because of several reasons. One is the material you used to cut and cook them in. But the primary cause of browning is oxygen. The best way to prevent your vegetable from coming in contact with oxygen is through water. Here are a couple of ways to prepare it.
Put a bit of lemon juice in a bowl full of water to soak your eggplant. What you need is to make the water acidic to prevent discoloration. The water shouldn’t be too sour. About a tablespoon to a large bowl of water would be enough.
Just like with lemons, you don’t need much. If you want a milder flavor, go for distilled white vinegar. Others, though, use apple cider vinegar. Like with lemon juice, a tablespoon in a large water bowl is enough.
This can mean working beside the stovetop. After slicing the eggplant, throw the pieces immediately in a pot of boiling water. Let it stay there for 3-5 minutes, just enough to deepen the color of the skin. If the skin turns brown, you over-cooked your vegetable.
After blanching, throw the pieces into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Take the eggplant pieces out, then drain thoroughly.
Some make a mild brine for their eggplant because it helps remove the bitterness. In a large bowl, dissolve a teaspoon of salt. Put the slices in the brine and let it soak for 20 minutes. Submerge the slices thoroughly. You’ll see the water discolor; this is just fine.
After 20 minutes, wash the slices thoroughly under running water. This will help remove the brine. Drain well, and pat dry before putting them in trays.
Pre-freezing is optional for non-liquid food items. Also, if you have new software in your Harvest Right freeze dryer, there’s no option for choosing pre-frozen and non-frozen.
But will certainly help the process by cutting out substantial time in the freezing phase. Especially since you pre-soaked your eggplant in water, which increases its water content.
Harvest Right recommends that you pre-freeze for at least 48 hours. This will ensure that the food is completely frozen right to the core. When you pre-freeze, make sure to keep the freezer door undisturbed. This will prevent condensation from happening and interfering with the freezing process.
Thanks to Harvest Right freeze dryer, we can freeze-dry eggplant at home. Now, extending the shelf-life of food is as easy as pressing a few buttons.
Currently, there are two versions of software for Harvest Right. Just choose which one is appropriate for yours. You’ll see the version at the upper right-hand corner of your screen. Currently, the latest version is v5.x.24
The process takes between 36-43 hours, depending on how much water your eggplant absorbs. Other factors include the temperature of the room where you installed your freeze dryer and how much food you’re processing.
Rehydrating eggplant is easy because it absorbs water like a sponge. You can put the eggplant in a wide bowl or dish. Then add enough water so it pools at the bottom. Let the slices of freeze-dried eggplant sit for a minute before mixing so everything is coated with water. Give it 5 minutes in warm water or 10 minutes in cold water to fully rehydrate.
Freeze-dried eggplant can last you for 25-30 years if stored properly. You can use Mason Jars for on-demand use. Mylar bags work great for long-term storage. Throw in 1-2 of the 300cc oxygen absorbers per gallon size of your container to extend shelf life.
After sealing, keep the jars or bags in a cool, dark, dry place. The temperature should stay lower than 72°F (22 °C). Also, maintain the relative humidity at 5% or less.
Freeze-drying eggplant is easy. Just choose the best to get the best results possible. Pre-soaking in an acidic or brine solution can also help in preserving the color. Because even during the process, your vegetable can still turn brown or discolor. That small detail can go a long way to help you make freeze-dried eggplant that you look forward to eating.
How would you use your freeze-dried eggplant? Let us know in the comment section.
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