Eggplant is a like a sponge, literally. It actually begins to feel like a sponge once you cut and salt it. It also soaks up flavors and liquids like a sponge, whether it’s the fat you fry eggplant parmesan in, or the flavorful brine you ferment them in.
Salting the eggplant aids in removing any bitterness that might be in the final ferment. Adding tons of Italian flavor, in the form of basil, oregano, and garlic, makes the most of the spongy nature of eggplant.
- 2 medium eggplants
- 6 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dry)
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons sea salt, plus more for salting eggplant
- 1 quart water
- Peel eggplant and cut into slices and then strips. Place these in a colander set over a plate and sprinkle generously with salt. Gently massage the salt into the eggplant. Allow to 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. Allow to 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, if you are not using an airlock, you may have to “burp” the jar 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 you can move it to cold storage.
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