Whether you have extra eggplant at home you don't want to waste or you like preparing meals ahead of time due to busy work weeks, freezing eggplant and eggplant dishes can save you time and money. Following a few simple tips will help you freeze eggplant properly to make sure it tastes delicious when thawed.
Eggplant Blanching Tips
The National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP) notes that blanching eggplant is one of the best ways to prepare it before freezing because it helps prevent loss of color, texture, flavor, and vitamins that can occur during the freezing process. Blanching involves scalding eggplant in boiling water for a short period. For best results, choose fresh eggplant with a uniformly dark color that was harvested before the seeds became mature, suggests the NCHFP.
Ingredients and Supplies
- Raw eggplant
- 1/2 cup of lemon juice
- 1 gallon of water
- Bowl of ice water (to use as ice water bath)
How to Prepare the Eggplant
- Thoroughly wash your eggplant.
- Peel the eggplant.
- Cut the eggplant into 1/3-inch thick slices. The overall size can vary, but the size of the palm of your hand or smaller works well.
- Begin boiling 1 gallon of water.
- Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice to the water.
- Blanch eggplant in boiling water for 4 minutes.
- Remove the eggplant from the water with a slotted spoon.
Cooling and Draining
- Immediately place eggplant into ice water bath for 5 minutes.
- Thoroughly drain the eggplant in a colander for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Pat dry with a paper towel to remove all excess water. The eggplant doesn't have to be 100 percent dry, but drier is better.
Sealing and Freezing Tips
Once you've finished preparing, blanching, and draining the eggplant, it's time to seal the eggplant in an airtight container and freeze it. Airtight container options include:
- Vacuum sealed bags
- Ziplock freezer bags with little to no air in the bag
- Freezer-safe plastic containers with 1/2-inch of empty headspace at the top of container to allow room for expansion
Separate slices with freezer wrap if placing more than one slice in your bag or container at a time. If you have certain recipes that call for particular amounts or portions, freeze in those amount and label the container for that recipe. Otherwise, place as many eggplant slices as comfortably fit in the airtight container you choose.
Considerations for Frying
You can also fry your eggplant before freezing it, notes the NCHFP. When choosing this cooking method prior to freezing, a few tips to remember are:
- Follow the same preparation, draining, sealing, and freezing steps as listed above, but fry your eggplant instead of blanching it.
- Drain liquid from eggplant after you've fried it; pat dry with paper towels to remove excess oil.
- Allow time for the eggplant to cool before you package it.
- Before sealing and freezing fried eggplant, pack with freezer wrap between each slice.
Freezing Eggplant Dishes
You can even freeze eggplant dishes like eggplant casserole and eggplant Parmesan. Let the eggplant dish cool entirely, then place it in individually sealed containers or wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. When you're ready to eat the dish, simply thaw it and microwave it or heat it up in the oven.
Keeping Eggplant in the Freezer
Generally, you can keep frozen eggplant for 8 to 12 months, according to the University of Kentucky's College of Agriculture. But, for best results make sure the eggplant is properly sealed in the freezer. You can keep leftover eggplant dishes in the freezer for up to 3 or 4 months, notes the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
If you have extra eggplant or leftover eggplant recipes you don't want to go to waste, consider freezing these items. Eggplant can keep in the freezer for up to a year when prepared and packaged properly.