When you think of a good pickle, eggplant is not one of the vegetables that immediately springs to mind. In fact, if the hierarchy of pickles, eggplant hovers on the list somewhere after kohlrabi and just before kale.
Even I came to the eggplant pickle reluctantly and most of the time, I race to embrace a new-to-me pickle. I just couldn't imagine how a barely cooked eggplant would translate into a pickle, particularly since I was convinced it would be horribly spongy. However, with two purple eggplants needing to be used before a trip and a deadline looming, I decided to give it a go.
I turned to the very accomplished preserver Linda Ziedrich and her super-reliable book The Joy of Pickling for assistance. I started with her recipe for pickled eggplant cubes, swapping white wine vinegar for red and exchanging basil for mint. I also found that I had less eggplant in my kitchen than was called for and so shrunk quantities just a bit.
When the prep work was done, but before the eggplant was packed into the jars, I stole a small taste from my mixing bowl. Had anyone else been in the room with me, I would have marched up to them and demanded they share in my delight. The pickle was zippy and bright with flavor. The texture was tender without any sign of mushiness.
I've not cracked the jars since first making this pickle, but I certain that they'll only get better over time. I plan to keep a couple of jars on hand for easy holiday party platters. Dressed with drizzle of olive oil and served with a few hunks of feta and a some bread will make for an instant appetizer.
Before You Get Started
Make sure to peel your eggplant. The skin can get bitter over time, particularly on those grown late in the season.
Keep your cubes small and uniform. This will allow your brine to penetrate fully into the eggplant, ensuring safety and maximum flavor.
Get freshest mint you can find. Remember, the better the ingredients you start out with , the better the pickle.
About the author: Marisa McClellan is a food writer, canning teacher, and dedicated pickler who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her jams, pickles and preserves (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars.