Lots of tutorials on freezing eggplant cover one way to freeze it, but there are at least four ways to do it, and each one has merit. Take a look at all four options.
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If you like to use eggplant to make Eggplant Parmesan, or you enjoy eating it baked or fried, blanching and freezing it in rounds is a good option. Here's how it's done:
- Fill a large stock pot with a gallon of water. Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice (bottled is fine). Then, set it on high heat.
- While you're waiting for the water to boil, peel the eggplant, and cut a bit off of both ends. Then, slice it into 1/4-inch rounds. Eggplant tends to oxidize (turn brown) quickly, so it's best to prep a small batch at a time (no more than what you're able to process in 15-30 minutes).
- Once the water has reached a rolling boil, drop the eggplant rounds into the pot, and blanch them for four minutes. This will kill any bacteria that may be present, and stop the enzyme action, so they hold up well in the freezer.
- Prep a large bowl of ice water while the eggplant is blanching. Then, drop the rounds into it, as soon as the four minutes is up. This will stop the cooking process, so the eggplant doesn't get too mushy.
- When the eggplant has cooled, remove it from the ice water, and pat dry.
- Lay the rounds on a cookie sheet, and flash freeze them, or if you prefer, bread the rounds first. You can dip them in egg then bread them with homemade Italian breadcrumbs.
- Once the eggplant is frozen, transfer it to freezer bags. If you decide to bread yours, stick a piece of wax paper between each round to keep them from freezing together.
To use: Just pop the frozen rounds right into your Eggplant Parmesan, or drop them right onto a cookie sheet or into your frying pan. There's no need to thaw them first.
Instructions are based on the current recommendations of the National Center for Food Preservation.
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Roasting and Pureeing Eggplant
If you like to use eggplant to make dips, sauces, and fillings, freezing eggplant puree is a smart choice. Here's how:
- Cut an eggplant in half (or several eggplants in half). Then, lay the halves on a cookie sheet, and roast at 400 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until the insides are soft and creamy.
- Allow the eggplant to cool; then, scoop out the insides; place them in a food processor; and pulse until smooth.
- Transfer the puree to freezer-safe containers (pint jars will give you handy two-cup servings). Be sure to label the containers before you put them in the freezer.
To use: Allow the puree to thaw in the fridge. Then, add to your favorite recipes.
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Cubing and Roasting Eggplant
If you like to eat eggplant as a side dish, or you enjoy adding it to soups and stir-frys, freezing roasted cubes of eggplant is a good bet. Here's how to do it:
- Peel and cube your eggplant. Then, place it on a cookie sheet, toss with olive oil, and sprinkle with minced garlic and salt.
- Roast at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until the eggplant browns nicely, and the centers reach a creamy consistency.
- Allow to cool; then, flash freeze on cookie sheets (this will keep the pieces from sticking together). Transfer to freezer bags; seal; and store in the freezer until you need them.
To use: Drop the frozen eggplant pieces directly into soups and stir-frys, or heat them on the stove or in the oven, just long enough to thaw them and warm them through.
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Making and Freezing Your Favorite Eggplant Dishes
If you like to keep your freezer stocked with ready-made meals, make a few Eggplant Parmesans or casseroles with eggplant in them. Just focus on recipes where the eggplant doesn't need to stay firm, and you should be happy with the results.
To use: Just follow the usual cooking instructions. You may need to extend the cooking time slightly since you'll be starting with a frozen dish. If you cooked your meals before freezing them, they'll just need a quick reheating.