Italian-Style Pickled Eggplant (Melanzane Sotto Aceto)

Pickled eggplant

The Spruce

 

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Rest and Cool Time: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 4 to 8 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
756 Calories
69g Fat
38g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 756
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 69g 88%
Saturated Fat 10g 48%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 49mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 11g 38%
Total Sugars 14g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 7mg 34%
Calcium 35mg 3%
Iron 2mg 8%
Potassium 537mg 11%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Melanzane sotto aceto ("eggplant in vinegar") is a quick and easy recipe for Italian pickled eggplant in vinegar. In Italy, vegetables that are pickled with vinegar are referred to as sottaceti and are common recipes for making the best out of seasonal produce that might come overabundantly from home gardens. Cooking the vegetables in vinegar before adding oil prevents the food from spoiling, and what starts as a recipe to extend the shelf life ends up becoming a tasty tradition that has continued long after refrigeration became the norm.

Preserves are entrenched today in the Italian culinary repertoire. This recipe brings out the best of eggplant's flavors and texture. It is often served on a mixed antipasto platter alongside sun-dried tomatoes, salami, pickled mushrooms, cheese, olives, mozzarella di bufala, grilled peppers, and bread.

Choose eggplants that are medium in size, as these tend to be sweeter and have fewer seeds. Smooth and shiny skins are good indicators of the age of the fruit, so choose unbruised eggplants that aren't too soft to the touch. Globe, graffiti, or Italian are always good types of eggplant to pickle.

For this recipe, you will need a 1-quart jar or two 1-pint jars with screw-top lids, but this is a quick-pickle process that does not require a complicated canning procedure or sterilized jars. If you'd like to make larger batches, always use the ratio of 2:1 water to vinegar when boiling the eggplant.

Ingredients

  • 6 firm medium eggplants, unbruised

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar (or cider vinegar), divided

  • 2 1/2 cups water

  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, stems removed, finely minced

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (or 1 fresh red chile, sliced lengthwise)

  • 1 teaspoon mint leaves, minced fresh or dried, optional

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons dried oregano, optional

  • 1/4 green bell pepper, minced, optional

  • 1 to 2 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil

Steps to Make It

Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, this eggplant recipe is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and pickling.

Prepare the Eggplant

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Wash the eggplants thoroughly to remove all traces of dirt and pat them dry with a paper towel.

  3. Slice the eggplants into strips of about 3 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. 

  4. Layer the strips in a colander and sprinkle each layer liberally with kosher salt.

  5. Place the colander in the sink, cover with a dish that fits in the colander, and place something heavy on top to weigh the dish down. The salt helps remove excess water and some of the bitterness from the eggplant. Let the eggplant bleed for 1 hour.

  6. Squeeze the eggplant with your hands to drain out any remaining excess moisture.

  7. Transfer the eggplant to a large pot. Cover with 1 1/4 cups of the vinegar and the water. Bring to a boil, and as soon as it bubbles, remove the pot from heat and allow the eggplant to cool in the water.

Pack the Jars

  1. In a large bowl, place the sliced garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes, and optional mint, oregano, and bell pepper.

  2. Squeeze as much water out of the eggplant as you can and add it to the bowl with the other ingredients. Pour in at least 1 to up to 2 1/2 cups of extra-virgin olive oil and the remaining 1/4 cup of vinegar. Carefully mix all ingredients.

  3. Transfer the veggie mixture to a clean one-quart jar or 2 (1-pint) jars. Press down well to remove any air.

  4. Leave about 1 inch of space between the vegetables and the rim of the jar. Pour in as much olive oil as needed so that all the eggplant is totally submerged. Do not overpack the jars with the vegetables.

  5. Place the screw-top lids on, wipe the jars, and store them in the refrigerator. They should be ready to eat in 24 hours.

  6. Enjoy.

How Long Will Pickled Eggplant Last?

The filled jars can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month. Let the eggplant marinate for a couple of days; it's best to consume the eggplant as soon as possible to enjoy the freshness of the flavors. Discard after one month.