Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Frugal Tips: Freezing Eggplant

Today's freezer topic: Eggplant

Eggplant is not a food I would normally think of freezing, or even using, because we don't really eat it around here. Mainly because someone doesn't really like to try too many new foods at once. Not naming any names. Fortunately, I have parents who I eat with once a week, and they are willing to eat anything! I mean, really. So when I got eggplant in one of our boxes from the food co-op I was excited to finally make eggplant parmesan! The problem is I'm not making it right away, so I wanted to freeze my eggplant so I can use it next week. So if you have eggplant coming out your ears, here is the easy way to freeze it for later!

Items you will need:
  • Eggplant (any quantity)
  • 1 large pot of boiling water (bring to a rolling boil)
  • plenty of ice in a large bowl of cold water
  • a vacuum food sealer or freezer bags

Step 1: Wash your eggplant really well. Yes, even though you are about to peel it. Cut the ends off and then peel the eggplant with a vegetable peeler.

Rinse the peeled eggplant and then slice it. Don't do it too thin - about 1/3-inch thick is good. It's a good idea to go on and put a large pot of water on to start boiling. Eggplant discolors very quickly when it hits the air, so you're going to want to prepare it quickly.

Add some lemon juice to the boiling water; this will help the discoloration of the eggplant. Once the water has reached a rolling boil, put the eggplant in to blanch. You will blanch the eggplant for 4 minutes, so after you put the eggplant in, cover the pot and start your timer.

When the four minutes is up, remove the eggplant with a slotted spoon and dump it in your bowl of ice water. Cool for about 5 minutes.

Drain thoroughly for about 3 minutes. Longer won't hurt, but don't forget it's still going to brown very quickly, so the longer you have it out the uglier it will get. Not that that affects the taste! Please note: if you are making Eggplant Parmesan, you can go on and dip the slices in batter, coat them with bread crumbs, and then continue to the next step.

Almost done! Now you want to freeze your slices. You have several options here. If you battered and breaded and wax papered your slices, go on and put them in your freezer bag or ziploc bag. If you are just using a ziploc bag make sure you get as much air out as possible.

If you did not batter your slices yet, you can lay out your slices on plastic wrap between layers. I did this so my slices wouldn't stick together as they were freezing.

If your eggplant is really wet still, but you don't have time to sit around waiting for it to dry, put it in your freezer bag and freeze it unsealed and standing upright in your freezer. Several hours later when it's frozen you can seal it and it won't be as messy - the juice will be frozen.

In general, you can expect eggplant to be good for about 9 months in your freezer. Mine is only going to last until next week so I didn't even put a date on it. Even if you use your eggplant after the 9-month mark, it'll still be fine, just won't taste as fresh.

Now you can have eggplant all year long!

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