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Italian Pickled Eggplant

This easy Italian Pickled Eggplant or Melanzane sott’olio recipe never tasted so good. Sliced pickled eggplant mixed with fresh spices and stored under oil. One of the best ways to eat eggplant.

pickled eggplant in a white dish and in a jar


 

This is one of the canning recipes that my Mother-in-law would make to keep us all happy, during the cold (for Italy cold) fall and winter months. Between this one and the Giardiniera Recipe they could easily change up or add to a meal.

How to make it

Peel and thinly slice the eggplant, do them one at a time, after you have done one, place the cut eggplant in a glass bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of salt, continue with each eggplant. Cover the bowl and let sit for 8 hours at room temperature.

cutting the eggplant in a bowl with salt

After the 8 hours, drain the liquid (but do not rinse the eggplant) and squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible.

In a big pot bring to a boil the water and white wine vinegar, add the eggplant and continue to boil for about 8-10 minutes or until tender.

Remove the eggplant with a slotted spoon and wring out excess moisture. Place the eggplant in a large bowl and toss with the spices.

placing in glass bowl and adding spices

Spoon into the sterilized jars , leaving at least 3/4 inch of space, then top with oil. Make sure that the eggplant is completely covered. This water bath will help if you plan on canning to keep for a longer period of time. 

eggplant in a glass jar

Let sit at least 24 hours before serving. The longer it sits the better the taste.

So I said to the Italian after it sat for a day, “do you want to try it?” After we tried it we both looked at each other and we knew it was exactly like his mother made, well it should be it was her recipe, although you know sometimes no matter how much we try, it just isn’t the same. But not this time, it brought back all these amazing memories! And isn’t that what the best food does?

Why salt it?

I know that people insist it isn’t necessary to salt it first, sometimes I don’t, but believe me you do see a difference. Salting in my opinion  helps to eliminate the bitter taste and leave the eggplant softer and not as tough.

Different types of eggplant

Apparently there are about 12 different types, African Garden Egg, Bianca, Chinese Round Mauve, Graffiti, Indian, Japanese White Egg, Little Green, Ping Tung, Santana, Tango, Thai and of course Italian. To tell the truth I probably haven’t heard or seen 90% of these. I usually use the Globe, Graffiti and Italian the most. For this recipe I used the Italian type.

eggplant in a glass jar covered in olive oil

How to pick the perfect eggplant

It’s best to pick medium to small eggplants they are more tender and contain fewer seeds than the much bigger ones. You are going to find seeds in the eggplant, but no worries you can eat them, just make sure they are white and not black. Black seeds indicate a tougher older vegetable.

The best oil to use

I usually use olive oil, because I really don’t make jars and jars, but my mother-in-law who did, would use a vegetable oil, usually sunflower. To tell the truth olive oil gives it a better taste and you can always use the left over oil for bruschetta or drizzling on meat when you are grilling.

The best canning jars

The best jars to use for canning are jars with screw top lids, I used 3 eggplants for this recipe, and I only got one cup when I was done, but I then immediately went out and purchased another 12 eggplants because we actually forgot just how good it is done this way! And of course be sure to sterilize your jars before use!

in a glass jar covered with olive oil

How to serve it

I like to serve it with crusty Italian bread as an appetizer, you could also serve it as a side dish with your favourite meat dish. Remember to always keep the eggplant that is remaining in the jar always covered in oil.

How to store it

The jars can be kept in a cool dark pantry and will keep for up to 6 months. Once open, make sure you cover the eggplant completely in oil before closing and store in the fridge for 5-6 days.

So if you want to try using up some eggplant this summer why not try this Italian Pickled Eggplant and let me know what you think. Buon Appetito!

pickled eggplant in a white dish and in a jar
pickled eggplant in a jar

Italian Pickled Eggplant

Rosemary Molloy
This easy Italian Pickled Eggplant or Melanzane sott'olio recipe never tasted so good. Sliced pickled eggplant mixed with fresh spices and stored under oil.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Resting Time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 28 minutes
Course Antipasti, Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1 cup
Calories 443 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 3 medium Italian eggplants* (see notes) (6-7 inches) (16-17 cm)
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 1-2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley (minced)
  • 1-2 dashes hot pepper flakes (if desired)
  • olive oil (enough to completely cover the eggplant)

Instructions
 

  • Peel and thinly slice the eggplant, I cut it crosswise in three, then thinly sliced them (see photos), do them one at a time, after you have done one, place the cut eggplant in a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of salt, continue with each eggplant. Cover the bowl and let sit for 8 hours at room temperature.
  • After the 8 hours, drain the liquid (but do not rinse the eggplant) and squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible.
  • In a big pot bring to a boil the water and white wine vinegar, add the eggplant and boil for about 7-10 minutes or until tender but not mushy, check after 5 minutes. Taste one to make sure it is tender.
  • Drain the eggplant and again wring out excess moisture. Place the eggplant in a large bowl and toss with the spices. Spoon into the sterilized jars , leaving at least 3/4 inch of space, then top with oil.  Make sure that the eggplant is completely covered with oil, press down on the eggplant to remove any air bubbles and add more oil if necessary before closing the jar. Let sit at least 24 hours before serving. Enjoy!

Notes

The amount of water and white wine vinegar for this recipe should be enough for up to 5-7 eggplants, if making more than double the amount of water and vinegar. 
A trick for removing the excess moisture my mil showed me is to place the drained eggplant in a clean tea towel and wring it out in the towel. Works every time. 
If storing make sure you use a tight fitting and keep in a dark cool room, wait at least 7 days before opening. Once open eat within 3-4 days. Make sure the eggplant is always covered with oil. If any mold appears dicard.

Nutrition

Calories: 443kcal | Carbohydrates: 84g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 7120mg | Potassium: 3333mg | Fiber: 42g | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 949IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 188mg | Iron: 6mg
Did You Make This Recipe?Please leave a comment below or pin it to your Pinterest account!

93 Comments

    1. Hi Sami, yes it can, place the cut zucchini (strips) under salt for only 45 minutes, then drain and rinse once. Cook in boiling water/vinegar for 10 seconds. Drain and squeeze out the moisture then toss with the spices and continue with the recipe. 🙂

  1. 5 stars
    I made a tiny batch for a trial and it’s wonderful! I picked up more eggplant to make more, but through no fault of my own it was a lot more than I anticipated for a large batch for the fridge so I’m thinking on water bathing it. I’ve been canning for fifty years but I am concerned that if the brine is drained and eggplant wrung out and covered in oil there won’t be enough acid to prevent possible growth of botulism. What are your thoughts?

    1. Hi RC, my MIL and no one that I know of does a water bath after it is in the jars, we would just make sure the jars were sterilized with new lids that would vacuum close and make double sure that the eggplant was covered well with the oil, and we would use it up over the winter, but once it was opened it needed to be eaten within a couple of days. Hope that helps, let me know. Take care!

      1. 5 stars
        Thanks for your reply. I did more research and definitely it should not be water bathed as it could potentially grow botulism. Refrigerated with the oil shouldn’t be a problem but it shouldn’t be stored without refrigeration at all. I also believe it will keep in the fridge opened more than a couple of days, although goodness knows the family didn’t leave it alone long enough to find out. I had three huge eggplants (the big purple kind) that ended up in 5 cups of pickles. Thank you again for the wonderful recipe.

      2. Hi RC, thanks so much for letting me know. Makes total sense. Glad you and your family enjoyed it. Yes it goes really fast in our house too. Take care and have a great week!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this pickled eggplant today, tasted bloody delicious, Gave a jar to my Italian neighbour to try..fingers crossed..

  3. 5 stars
    I am in Canada and of Italian decent. Every Bottega in my town offers this eggplant as a topping on sandwiches. I made this recipe the other day and the store. I have canned a dozen 500ml jars and will be bringing them to family at Thanksgiving. I’m expecting positive feedback; especially from the Nonas.
    Thanks for the recipe.

    1. 5 stars
      I made a small bit originally to try it, quartering the brine recipe, and did not have wine vinegar so used apple cider vinegar with a couple of tablespoons of dry red wine and it was fabulous.

    1. Hi Estela, I don’t I make it and we eat it. 🙂 I do have links in the post for canning and sterilizing the jars though. Hope that helps. Take care.

  4. I am going to try this. I will make a small amount. I don’t want to can it but store in fridge and eat. Have you done this?

  5. Hello,

    I tried your recipe however after boiling the eggplant it came out completely mushy after 7 minutes. Is this supposed to happen?

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