Trying to decide what to do with our over abundance of eggplants, I came across this recipe from Cultures for Health.
I found the instructions sort of vague so I emailed their customer service and got some tips, so here is what I did for this recipe. I am bolding all the changes I made as well. Visit Cultures for Health for the original.
- Approx 14 Japanese eggplants peeled and sliced like pickles (enough to fill a quart jar)
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. dried basil
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp. canning and pickling salt, plus more for salting eggplant
- 1 quart water
- Slice peeled Japanese eggplants into strips similar to cucumber pickles.
- Place these in a colander set over a plate and sprinkle generously with salt. Gently massage the salt into the eggplant. Let sit, covered with a towel, for 1 to 2 hours to allow the bitter liquid to drain out.
- Meanwhile, prepare brine by heating water, adding salt, and stirring to dissolve. Cool to room temperature.
- After 1 to 2 hours have passed rinse the salted eggplant under water to remove some of the salt. Place garlic, red pepper flakes, and herbs in a quart jar. Add eggplant strips, squishing them in as you go. Cover all with brine, leaving 1 1/2 inches of headspace.
- Cover jar with lid and set in an undisturbed room temperature space for 3 to 7 days to ferment. During this time, “burp” the jar at least 2 times every day to release gases. To do this, simply loosen the lid until gases are released, then immediately tighten lid.
- Once the eggplant is fully fermented, move to cold storage.
My first time “burping” my jar, it fizzed and overflowed a bit under the seal, so I recommend placing a plate or something under your jar to help capture the overflow. After this, I also decided to burp at least twice a day (morning and evening), or as I thought of it, instead of once per day as was originally in the recipe.
I was very excited by the garlicky scent of the released gasses. I LOVE garlic and pickled garlic, and I love spicy pickles, so, even though these were made with eggplant, I was really looking forward to trying them.
By day 5 they were already slowing down in their process. Less gases were being produced, so I placed them in the fridge. We tried them after dinner on day 6 and I was quite pleased with how they turned out. Just spicy enough, nice tart flavor, and the garlic stood out as well. I was pleased that they weren’t mushy at all – they were tender, but not squishy.
I did update the recipe to include peeling the eggplants, as the skins turned out to be very tough and chewy. It could be that we used over ripe eggplants, use your best judgement. Next time I make this with Japanese eggplants, I will remove the skins.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different herbal recipes, either. The only thing that is needed is salt, the rest of the seasoning is personal preference. If you don’t like spicy foods, omit the pepper flakes. You get the idea.
I have to say that I just love the idea of being able to create my own pickles using the plant’s natural bacteria. Being able to preserve food with nothing more than salt, is amazing to me. The spices and herbs add a really nice touch. I am just tickled every time they turn out right.
These should last several months in the fridge or cold storage such as a basement or root cellar.