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How to Dry Eggplant: An Illustrated Guide

Joilene has been gardening and preserving food of all kinds for many years, and she thrives on the creativity involved in these processes.

Eggplants

Eggplants

Dehydrating Eggplant

Nearly all kinds of food can be dried. Eggplants are no exception. The re-hydrated product is, as you would expect, not quite like fresh from the garden, but it is good and serviceable in many eggplant recipes.

So if you have an abundance of eggplants and are wondering what to do with them all, dehydrating is a good answer! At least 10 medium-sized eggplants can then be stored in a quart-sized jar and need nothing more than a little boiling water poured over them to rehydrate the pieces. Add them to your recipes as you would fresh eggplant.

Step 1: Slice or Dice Your Eggplants One at a Time

Select firm, fresh eggplants, as they will preserve better than ones that are already wrinkled or deteriorating.

Select firm, fresh eggplants, as they will preserve better than ones that are already wrinkled or deteriorating.

Prepare only one eggplant at a time, as the flesh discolors extremely fast.

Prepare only one eggplant at a time, as the flesh discolors extremely fast.

I have chosen to dice mine. You may slice them or cut them into any shape you please. You may peel your eggplants, if you wish.

I have chosen to dice mine. You may slice them or cut them into any shape you please. You may peel your eggplants, if you wish.

Step 2: Blanch Your Eggplant Pieces

You may steam blanch your eggplant pieces 3 minutes, or boil them 1 minute. Add citric acid or Fruit Fresh to the water, to help the eggplants hold their color. Blanching is supposed to help vegetables keep better once frozen or dried.

You may steam blanch your eggplant pieces 3 minutes, or boil them 1 minute. Add citric acid or Fruit Fresh to the water, to help the eggplants hold their color. Blanching is supposed to help vegetables keep better once frozen or dried.

Immediately put the eggplant pieces in ice-cold water (called "shocking"), to stop the cooking. I usually use a sinkful of water, but a bowl works, too.

Immediately put the eggplant pieces in ice-cold water (called "shocking"), to stop the cooking. I usually use a sinkful of water, but a bowl works, too.

After a few batches, the water will discolor. That's alright. Add ice cubes with each batch, or pour off the water and get fresh.

After a few batches, the water will discolor. That's alright. Add ice cubes with each batch, or pour off the water and get fresh.

Step 3: Dry Your Eggplant Pieces

I use a commercial dehydrator to dry many of my foods. I have never tried sun-drying eggplant. Scoop each batch onto the screen...

I use a commercial dehydrator to dry many of my foods. I have never tried sun-drying eggplant. Scoop each batch onto the screen...

...then spread around as evenly as you can.

...then spread around as evenly as you can.

You don't need much room between pieces (they will shrink a lot, you know), but make sure you don't have any "clumps" of stuck-together pieces. Set dehydrator temperature to 140° F and dry until quite hard.

You don't need much room between pieces (they will shrink a lot, you know), but make sure you don't have any "clumps" of stuck-together pieces. Set dehydrator temperature to 140° F and dry until quite hard.

Step 4: Remove From Screens or Trays, and Package in Bags or Jars

After most of the pieces are dry, pick out any that aren't, to dry some more. Tip remaining pieces to the center of the screen...

After most of the pieces are dry, pick out any that aren't, to dry some more. Tip remaining pieces to the center of the screen...

...and place in an airtight bag or glass jar. In this bag are about three large eggplants.

...and place in an airtight bag or glass jar. In this bag are about three large eggplants.

Jars are usually better than bags for keeping dried food in. If there is a pinhole leak, or you don't get the bag sealed 100%, that means your food is steadily deteriorating. As this jar had lost its lid, I used waxed paper and a tight rubberband.

Jars are usually better than bags for keeping dried food in. If there is a pinhole leak, or you don't get the bag sealed 100%, that means your food is steadily deteriorating. As this jar had lost its lid, I used waxed paper and a tight rubberband.

How to Prepare Dried Eggplant for Cooking

To rehydrate, boil drinking water and pour over eggplant pieces to cover or a little more. Be sure to remember how much the pieces have shrunk, and don't prepare too many! Let sit for at least 30–45 minutes or more.

The eggplant, like many dehydrated foods, will not soak up quite as much water as it had originally, but it will rehydrate sufficiently to please you in your recipes.

Now you'll have eggplants to use all year, whenever you please!

Insects and Stored Dried Eggplant

A word of warning: Insects love dried eggplant. So if your pantry is prone to moths, etc.—consider freezing your dried eggplant, or put a few pieces in each jar of something insects seem to detest—like dried rhubarb, dried green beans (usually), or dried carrots (usually). Moths are a problem at my house, and storage methods don't seem to matter—my jars can be properly sealed, as clean as can be, and apparently airtight. It's worth taking precautions so you don't lose your food and the time and effort it took to preserve it.

An Experiment Regarding Unblanched Dried Eggplant

Here is a bowl of dried eggplant pieces which were NOT blanched before drying. Overall, their appearance is whiter, which I found a bit odd.

Here is a bowl of dried eggplant pieces which were NOT blanched before drying. Overall, their appearance is whiter, which I found a bit odd.

This is the same bowl, with the camera on a different mode. The lines are less clear, but the colors are more true, and less "warm" looking. I have not noticed any difference in the keeping qualities of the blanched vs. not blanched eggplant.

This is the same bowl, with the camera on a different mode. The lines are less clear, but the colors are more true, and less "warm" looking. I have not noticed any difference in the keeping qualities of the blanched vs. not blanched eggplant.

Questions & Answers

Question: I appreciate your step by step instruction in drying eggplant! I have a lot of eggplants from my garden and am New at dehydrating & Canning etc.. I just did a batch of eggplant I blanched & froze diced for a Caponata recipe. Is it possible to dehydrate it After it thaws? Also, I blanched & breaded slices for Parmesan waxpaper between layers. I'm New to this but Love my eggplant! Can I dehydrate and use for cooking to put in my pasta sauce like I do fresh?

Answer: I have never tried dehydrating anything but fresh eggplant. My guess is that dehydrating pre-frozen eggplant will not turn out well, since freezing breaks down the cells walls, releasing moisture and toughening the remaining membranes. This is why foods which sometimes seemed OK when fresh get toughened after freezing. During dehydration, fresh foods react by losing their water and getting brittle, not necessarily tough. So, starting with anything but fresh, I think you would wind up with leather, which would not rehydrate nicely. But I might be wrong. If you decide to try this procedure, please comment with your results, so the rest of us can learn, too.

© 2009 Joilene Rasmussen