Italian-Style Pickled Eggplant (Melanzane Sotto Aceto)

Italian-Style Pickled Eggplant (Melanzane Sotto Aceto)

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 6 mins
Brine and Cool: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 31 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 2 quarts
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
213 Calories
13g Fat
25g Carbs
2g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
×
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 213
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 13g 16%
Saturated Fat 2g 9%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 32mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 7g 26%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 5mg 23%
Calcium 23mg 2%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 358mg 8%
*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 two 1-quart jars or four 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.

"I used Japanese eggplants because they’re quite tender and not bitter. The resulting pickled eggplants were tender and delicious, with hints of garlic and herbs. I was instantly transported back to my grandmother’s kitchen, watching her make a variation of this recipe when I was a child." —Diana Andrews

Pickled Eggplant
A Note From Our Recipe Tester

Ingredients

  • 6 firm medium eggplants, unbruised (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • 1 1/2 cups white or apple cider vinegar, divided

  • 2 1/2 cups water

  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped, about 1 cup

  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or 1 fresh red chile, thinly 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.

    Italian-Style Pickled Eggplant (Melanzane Sotto Aceto) ingredients

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

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

    eggplant

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

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

    Slice the unpeeled eggplants into strips on a cutting board

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

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

    eggplant in a colander

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  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 drain for 1 hour.

    eggplant in a colander, plate on top

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

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

    eggplant in a colander

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  7. Transfer the eggplant to a large pot and add 1 1/4 cups of the vinegar and the water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the mixture begins to boil, remove the pot from the heat, and allow the eggplant to cool completely in the water, stirring occasionally.

    eggplant in a pot

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Pack the Jars

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

    sliced garlic, parsley, red pepper flakes, and optional mint, oregano, and bell pepper in a large bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

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

    eggplant in a spice mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  3. Transfer the veggie mixture to 2 clean one-quart jars or 4 clean one-pint jars. Press down well to remove any air.

    eggplant mixture in a jar

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  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 completely submerged. Do not overpack the jars with the eggplant.

    oil added to the eggplant mixture in the jar

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

  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.

    Italian-Style Pickled Eggplant (Melanzane Sotto Aceto) in a jar

    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Tips

  • You can eat the pickled eggplant as is or incorporate it into many dishes. The eggplant could be added to warm pasta, stirred into a pot of freshly made beans, added to soups, or to any kind of sandwich or wrap. 
  • Don't be afraid to liberally salt the eggplant. Some of the salt drains away with the liquid and some will leach out later in the vinegar-water mixture.
  • If you'd like to make larger batches of this pickle, always use the ratio of 2:1 water to vinegar when boiling the eggplant.

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.