Q. My neighbour brought me over some eggplants from his garden. I can’t use them all, but I don’t want them to go to waste. Can you freeze eggplant?
A. Freezing eggplant is a little bit trickier than freezing some other vegetables, but not impossible. Eggplant’s consistency will change upon thawing, so it’s best to freeze eggplant that you want to use in recipes where firm slices aren’t required. Freezing eggplant properly involves blanching them first to stop discoloration, so gather all of your equipment together before starting to ensure the process runs smoothly.
You will need: One large pot of boiling water, a slotted spoon, and two large bowls of ice water, with extra ice on hand.
Set the pot on the stove to boil, and get the bowls with the ice water ready. Mix in about 1/3 cup of lemon juice into the ice water to help prevent discoloration of the eggplant. Start with a firm, fresh eggplant that’s been washed. The larger the eggplant, the larger the seeds, and the more likely it is that it will have a bit of a bitter flavor. Smaller eggplants may be better for freezing.
Peel the eggplant, discarding the skin, and slice into rounds about ½ – 1 inch thick. Working in batches, place sliced eggplant into the boiling water and cover. They should remain in the water for about 4 minutes. Remove slices with a slotted spoon and place immediately into the bowls of ice water. As water heats from the eggplants, add more ice. When slices are cool, remove them from the water and place in a colander to drain. Dry eggplant slices on paper towels to allow some of the excess water to seep out, and then place into freezer bags. Suction the excess air using a straw, and seal bags tightly.
You can also freeze roasted eggplant. Cut eggplants in half and lay cut side down on a baking sheet. Roast in a 400F oven until flesh is soft. Let cool and scoop flesh from skin. Place the cooked eggplant in freezer bags, suction out air, and seal. Frozen eggplant can last up to a year in an airtight container.
To use, remove eggplant from the freezer and defrost in the refrigerator. Frozen eggplant will not have the same consistency as fresh, it will be mushier. It is best used in dishes where pureed or cooked down eggplant is required.