Pickling eggplant involves soaking sliced eggplant or aubergine in a vinegar-based solution infused with herbs and spices for a tangy, crunchy snack. Canning eggplant requires pressure-canning acidified cubed eggplant in a vinegar and salt brine.
Is Canning Eggplant Safe?
Many home canners have successfully processed eggplant by pickling it before processing it. However, canning eggplant has been controversial because it is a low-acid food with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. For safety, the acidity of eggplant must be raised to a level less than 4.6, which requires pickling in a vinegar brine or the addition of bottled lemon juice.
Many low-acid vegetables are safe for pressure canning or water bath canning when they are pickled first when using proper canning techniques. However, neither the USDA nor the NCHFP has tested or published guidelines for pressure canning eggplant.
Pressure Canning Eggplant Step-by-Step
One way to preserve eggplant is by using pressure canning. As there are no tested canning recipes to refer to, it is vital that home canners follow proven canning techniques and acidify low-acid vegetables, such as eggplant, prior to canning them.
The pressure canning processing time and pressures were taken from the USDA’s directions for pressure canning low-acid vegetables.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to pressure canning eggplant:
- Prepare the eggplant by washing and cutting it into 1-inch cubes.
- Combine 6 cups of water, 3 cups of vinegar, and one tablespoon of pickling salt in a large pot and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Add the eggplant cubes to the boiling brine and cook for 5 minutes.
- Canning lids and the screw bands should be washed using hot water and soap, then rinsed and set on a towel.
- Sterilize canning jars in boiling water for 10 minutes and keep them hot until the eggplant is ready.
- Transfer the eggplant cubes to the sterilized jars using a slotted spoon, packing tightly.
- Ladle the brine over the eggplant cubes, leaving ½-inch of headspace.
- Remove air bubbles by running a non-metallic utensil along the inside of the jar.
- Use a clean, damp cloth to wipe the rim of each jar.
- Attach the lids to the jars and screw on the bands until fingertip-tight.
- Add 2-4 inches of water to your pressure canner, following the user manual for your canner.
- Heat the water in the pressure canner according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Insert the canning rack or trivet into the pressure canner. The rack helps elevate the jars and prevents them from touching the bottom of the canner, allowing for even heat distribution.
- Using a jar lifter or canning tongs, carefully transfer the filled jars of eggplant into the pressure canner. Ensure the jars are spaced one inch apart and do not touch the sides of the canner.
- Close the lid of the pressure canner and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for venting steam. Allow the canner to vent steam for 10 minutes to remove any trapped air.
- After venting steam, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to bring the pressure canner up to the appropriate pressure level based on your altitude:
Recommended process time in a dial-gauge pressure canner:
|Altitude (ft)||0 – 2,000||2,001 – 4,000||4,001 – 6,000||6,001 – 8,000|
|Pints (30 mins)||11 lbs||12 lbs||13 lbs||14 lbs|
|Quarts (35 mins)||11 lbs||12 lbs||13 lbs||14 lbs|
Recommended process time in a weighted-gauge pressure canner.
|Altitude (ft)||0 – 1,000||1,001 +|
|Pints (30 mins)||10 lbs||15 lbs|
|Quarts (35 mins)||10 lbs||15 lbs|
- Once the pressure reaches the desired level, adjust the heat as necessary to maintain consistent pressure throughout the canning process. Process pints for 30 minutes and quarts for 35 minutes.
- Keep an eye on the pressure gauge or indicator throughout the canning process, making adjustments to the heat as needed to maintain the required pressure.
- After the processing time is complete, turn off the heat and allow the pressure canner to naturally release the pressure. Do not force-cool or open the canner until the pressure has returned to zero and the internal pressure has equalized.
- Once the pressure is fully released, carefully remove the jars from the canner using a jar lifter or canning tongs.
- Place the hot jars on a towel-lined countertop or cooling rack, allowing them to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours.
- Store the jars in a dry, cool place for a maximum of one year.
Refrigerator Pickle Method for Pickled Eggplant
Making refrigerator pickles from eggplant is a quick and easy way to extend the shelf life of eggplants. Here are the steps and ingredients to pickle eggplant:
- Wash two medium-sized eggplants and cut them into ½ inch cubes or slices.
- Place the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle salt over them.
- Let the eggplant sit for 30 minutes to draw out any excess water.
- Rinse the eggplant and pat it dry with a paper towel.
- Mix 1 cup white vinegar, 1 cup water, two cloves garlic (minced), 1 tsp of red pepper flakes, 1 tsp oregano, one bay leaf, and 1/2 tsp of black peppercorns in a saucepan with two tablespoons of pickling salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Pack the eggplant into a sanitized, quart-size canning jar.
- Ladle the hot pickling liquid over the eggplant, covering it completely.
- Let the jar cool to room temperature.
- Once cooled, cover the jar and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. Enjoy your delicious homemade pickled eggplant as a topping on sandwiches or in salads.
- Use pickled eggplant within three months, and keep refrigerated.
Water Bath Canning Pickled Eggplant
If you want to preserve pickled eggplant for a longer shelf life, water bath canning is the way to go. Here’s how to safely water bath can pickled eggplant:
- Sterilize canning jars in a large pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. The jars should remain in the hot water until you are ready to use them.
- Wash the lids and seals with warm soapy water before rinsing and leaving them to air-dry.
- Use a saucepan to prepare your desired pickling brine, ensuring it contains white vinegar with at least 5% acidity, along with pickling salt and desired spices. Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Wash the eggplants and cut them into ½-inch cubes or slices, depending on your preference.
- Place the eggplant in a colander and sprinkle them with salt. Marinate the eggplant in the salt for 30 minutes before rinsing and patting it dry.
- Pack the eggplant into the hot, sterilized jars, leaving ½ inch of headspace.
- Pour the hot pickling liquid over the eggplant using a canning funnel, covering it completely and maintaining ½ inch of headspace.
- Remove any air bubbles in the jars by running a thin plastic or rubber spatula along the sides of the jars.
- Use a moist cloth dipped in vinegar to remove any excess liquid or debris from the rims of the canning jars.
- Place the lids on the jars, tightening the bands around them until they are snug to fingertip tightness.
- Use canning tongs to place the jars onto the canning rack inside the prepared water bath canner.
- Ensure the boiling water is 1-2 inches above the tops of the jars, and close the canning lid.
- Process pint jars for 15 minutes and quart jars for 20 minutes.
- Once the jars are processed, allow them to sit in the hot water for five minutes before using a jar lifter to remove the jars from the water.
- Place jars on a towel-covered countertop to cool at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
- Remove the screw bands from the jars before testing the seals.
- Inspect the jars by pressing the center of the lids. They are properly sealed if the lids do not flex or move. If any jars fail the seal test, place them in a refrigerator and consume them within a few weeks.
- Store the pickled eggplant in a cool, dry, dark place.
What are the Benefits of Canning Eggplant?
- Canned eggplant is a great gift for friends and family
- Canning preserves eggplant for longer than its growing season
- Canning is a cost-effective way to preserve eggplant
- Eggplants are nutritious and a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals
- Having canned eggplant at home is convenient
- Pickled eggplant complements a wide variety of cuisines
How Long Does it Take to Can Eggplant?
The processing time for canning eggplant depends on the canning method used. Processing times start for water bath canners once the water is at a rolling boil and for pressure canners once they reach the recommended PSI.
Estimated processing times for pressure canning and water bath canning pickled eggplant:
|Jar Size||Water Bath Canning||Pressure Canning|
|Pints||15 minutes||60 minutes|
|Quarts||20 minutes||75 minutes|
How to Preserve Raw Eggplant
Preserving raw eggplant is not advised. Blanching eggplant by immersing it briefly in boiling water before cooling it in an ice bath maintains its quality and reduces the risk of spoiling.
Freezing is the best non-canning method of preserving blanched eggplant:
- Wash the eggplant and remove the stem.
- Cut the eggplant into small cubes or slices.
- Blanch the eggplant by boiling it in a large pot of water for 4 to 5 minutes, then transfer it immediately to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.
- Drain the eggplant well and pat it dry with a paper towel.
- Put the eggplant onto a baking sheet and put it in the freezer.
- Once the eggplant is frozen solid, transfer it to a freezer-safe airtight container or bag and use it within eight months.
Are There Any Canning Recipes that Use Eggplant?
Canned Eggplant Caponata
One popular eggplant recipe for canning is Italian caponata, a tangy appetizer made with roasted eggplant, bell peppers, and other veggies.
When making caponata for canning, be sure to add lemon juice or red wine vinegar to increase the acidity to a safe level and add kosher salt to taste.
Eggplant Pasta Sauce
This delicious eggplant pasta sauce recipe contains garden fresh tomatoes and eggplants and can be used as a flavorful dipping sauce or to add zip to familiar pasta dishes such as spaghetti bolognese.
How to Store Canned and Pickled Eggplant
Fluctuations in temperature affect the quality and safety of canned and pickled eggplant. Store canned and pickled eggplant in a cool, dry location away from moisture and out of direct sunlight.
Always keep track of how long the jars have been sitting on the shelf by labeling them with the canning date. Use a “first in, first out” storage method to ensure your canned food stock is rotated regularly.
Things to Avoid when Storing Eggplant
- High temperatures cause spoilage and reduce the shelf life of canned and pickled eggplant. Avoid storing them in areas exposed to heat, such as near ovens or stovetops.
- Moisture causes the lids of jars to rust or corrode, compromising the seal and allowing bacteria to enter. Avoid storing canned and pickled eggplant in humid areas like a basement or garage.
- Exposure to light can taint the color and flavor of canned and pickled eggplant. Store them in a dark area, such as a pantry or cupboard.
What is the Shelf Life of Canned and Pickled Eggplant?
The shelf life of canned and pickled eggplant depends on various factors, such as the canning method, storage conditions, and the recipe used. Most home-canned food lasts for 12 months.
For the best quality and flavor, it is recommended to use canned and pickled eggplant within six months of canning.