Top | The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves

Eggplant Preserves

(recipe, Linda Ziedrich)


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Introduction

When my garden produces too many eggplants to eat right away, I usually pickle the excess. But here is another good way to preserve the fruits, especially if members of your family don’t like eggplant. Take the label off a jar of these preserves, and your family will happily eat eggplant without knowing it. Many people dislike eggplant because some varieties are bitter, especially when they are overripe. The bitterness is usually removed or reduced either by salting and draining the eggplant or by piercing it and roasting it until it is very soft. This recipe uses a third technique, blanching and draining. I’ve based this recipe loosely on one I found in a Spanish cookbook written by a Frenchman, but I suspect that the original version was from southeastern Europe or the Near East. The honey is added at the end of cooking to preserve its delicate flavor. The sesame seeds are a kind of culinary joke: They look like eggplant seeds but have their own rich, toasty flavor. Try these preserves on crisp bread or crackers with cultured butter, soft cheese, or cream cheese.

Ingredients

  1. 2¾ lb. eggplants, peeled and cut into ⅜-inch cubes
  2. 4½ cups sugar
  3. Zest of 1 lemon
  4. ¼ cup lemon juice, strained
  5. 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  6. 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted
  7. 2 Tbsp. honey

Steps

  1. In a big pot of boiling water, blanch the eggplant cubes in two batches for 3 minutes or until they are tender. Drain them in a colander, and press them gently with a wooden spoon to remove much of their juice.
  2. In a preserving pan, combine the drained eggplant and the sugar. Stir gently. Let the mixture stand for about 2 hours, stirring once or twice, until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Stir the lemon zest, lemon juice, and ginger into the eggplant mixture. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring gently, until it is quite thick, about 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in the sesame seeds and honey and remove the pan from the heat. Pack the preserves into pint or half-pint mason jars. Add lids and rings, and process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.