Removing Bitterness from Eggplant without Salt

Some years are corn years and some are melon years.  This year is the year of the eggplant.  I keep seeing pictures of beautiful aubergines all over Facebook, from the West coast all the way to New York.  Local Kitchen has called it “Eggplantocalypse 2012,” a term which totally cracks me up.

It seems like eggplant is either a love-it or hate-it fruit.  I think a lot of people want to love it, because lets face it, eggplant is beautiful.

I received this amazing Nubia eggplant in my CSA share last week.

The problem is eggplant tends – heavily – toward the bitter.  Coupled with its weird texture, it just becomes hard to palate.

Eggplant also has a thick, rubbery skin.  Unless I really feel sentimental about its pretty color, I usually peel it completely.  I will at the very least peel half.  In general, the skin is a bit too tough to really enjoy.

I’ve heard all about salting eggplant to help remove the bitterness, but honestly, I don’t like this process.  I’ve never felt it helped all that much, plus it takes too long.

I recently read a novel in which a French man taught a young South American boy to cut and cook an eggplant.  The Frenchman told the boy to remove the seeds.  The boy forgot, but cut the eggplant so beautifully, the man did not care.

This got me thinking, “How would one remove the seeds from an eggplant?  Why would you, since they are totally edible.”  But then I remembered that eggplant is a member of the nightshade family.  It’s the same plant family as tomatoes and peppers.  The pith and seeds of bell peppers are bitter.

I decided to try it.  I sliced my eggplant length-wise and used a spoon to scrape out as many seeds as I could.

Then I chopped it and cooked it up in some ratatouille.

It was sweet and delicious.

Could it have been a fluke!?  Rick suggested I try it again to prove my theory.  So I did, again and again.

All summer long, we’ve been enjoying sweet eggplant… without salting it.

Suddenly I’m hearing my three-year-old say, “I love eggplant.”

I felt like I discovered a whole new way to get kids to eat eggplant!  Wait, no…  I know how to get people to eat eggplant!

It’s magic!!  I know how to remove the bitterness from eggplant!

I searched online to see if anyone else knew about this.  There wasn’t much, although I did discover that eggplant is also related to tobacco and that is why the seeds are so bitter.

There are a few applications when seeding an eggplant is not really desirable, like eggplant parmesan or for a pizza.  For those recipes I use a Japanese eggplant instead, as they tend to be less bitter to start with.

For everything else, seeding is the way to go for me.

Easy Lunch-Time Summer Pasta with Eggplant

1 eggplant
1/2 small zucchini
1 bell pepper, any color
1 large heirloom tomato
olive oil, salt and pepper
pasta, any shape

Slice, peel and seed eggplant.  Seed and chop pepper, halve and slice zucchini and chop tomato.  Combine and toss all with olive oil, salt and pepper in a shallow pan.  Roast in a medium-hot oven (375-400°) for 20-30 minutes, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, being careful not to over cook.  If the eggplant roasts too long it will become mushy.

Meanwhile, boil pasta in salted water until al dente.  Reserve 1/3- to ½-cup pasta water and drain.  Toss cooked pasta with roasted vegetables and reserved pasta water.  Enjoy.

And, here’s the proof…

Categories: CSA, Food, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

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18 thoughts on “Removing Bitterness from Eggplant without Salt

  1. It’s been the year of the eggplant for me too! Actually, the first “year of the eggplant” I’ve ever had. In past years my eggplants have been disasters. Recipe looks great. Thanks!

  2. The recipe looks good and the boys seem to be enjoying it. My question is I have the small orange Turkish egg plants, any suggestions for this one? Ellen from georgia

  3. epeavey1

    Have any suggestions for the orange Turkish egg plant? Ellen from Georgia

  4. Wow! Who knew? (Well, you did.) I’ve had so many, I forced two on friends today. I’ll be seeing one tonight!

    • I love how we gardener, local food types are always pushing our veggies on others – like really, really, nice drug pushers. 😉

  5. You’re the second person to recommend this this week so there must be something to it. I will try this soon

  6. Great post! I have yet to get eggplant in my box but many people in my link party seem to be getting hoards of it

    Come and share this wonderful tip with the rest of the CSA Link party… Looking forward to seeing you there 🙂

  7. I’ve been seeing so many yummy looking eggplant recipes lately that I decided to do a post on our blog with a list of some of the most recent ones. I just wanted to give you a heads up that this one is on there as well! ❤

  8. GREAT idea and I will definitely be trying it. However, what do you think about when you want to have slices of eggplant in tact (for grilling, etc)? Stick with the salting method?

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  10. Nice! This year I grew Rosa Bianca eggplants and just picked them right before cooking — no bitterness! I will keep this in mind for other eggplants though; thanks for sharing. Also, I learned this year that if your cucumbers are bitter, you can just peel them and enjoy. 🙂

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  13. I’ve never heard of using this tactic! Thank you for your post! I look forward to doing this the next time I make an eggplant dish!

  14. I’ve been researching how to’s about eggplant bitterness and yours is the most sensibly written, concise information I have come across. Thank you.

  15. Andres Fernandes

    I spent a few months in Argentina cooking and eating eggplant all of the time, seeds, skin, and all and never encountered a bitter one. Then I came over the border to Brazil and immediately they were bitter again, the same variety and everything, same climate where I was the day before. The bitterness seems to have something to do with how it is harvested and treated afterwards. It’s a shame because it definitely is not an inherent and unavoidable trait.

  16. Kristen

    My eggplant had many, many seeds. Making Ratatouille. Thank you. Perhaps some people and especially kiddos are more sensitive to bitterness. I think kale, brussel sprouts, many lettuces are very difficult to eat. Walnuts! I just may not be cultivated enough 😁

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