Why Salt Eggplant
If you’re new to preparing eggplant for cooking, you might be wondering, “Is salting eggplant necessary?” The short answer is no. Because thanks to the advancements made in eggplant farming, most of the time, salting eggplant is not necessary. For most recipes, I simply slice up the veggie and get cooking!
However, if we go back in time and look back at when people first began to cook eggplants, the vegetable had a bitter taste. They came up with this salting process to help get the bitterness out of the eggplant before cooking it, thereby making it more palatable.
Since then, however, farmers have bred out much of eggplants’ signature bitterness. As Deborah Madison says in her cookbook New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (affiliate link):
“Eggplant that’s freshly picked, harvested before it’s full of seeds, and eaten within a few days is naturally sweet and doesn’t need salting.”Deborah Madison
In other words, fresh, young eggplants bought at the grocery store or farmer’s market likely don’t need to be salted. Even so, there are other times when salting eggplant may still be a good idea:
- Salting eliminates bitter flavors that come from storing your eggplants too long or using older eggplants. Today’s eggplants may be sweeter, but they still have some bitter liquid inside, especially if they are not fresh.
- Fried eggplant is crispier and more savory when it’s been pre-salted. When preparing eggplant for frying, the salting process ensures the vegetable absorbs less oil. As a result, taking the time to salt eggplant prior to frying yields perfectly seasoned fried eggplant with a silkier texture.
- Salted eggplants are seasoned from the inside out. Translation: Their interiors will have the same savory, rich flavor as their exteriors. It is an easy way to make eggplant taste good.
In short: Do you need to salt eggplant before cooking? Not always. But it can’t hurt!
To purge eggplant, you will need globe eggplants and salt.
Though I am using a globe eggplant—the thicker, more spherical kind of eggplant most often found in the U.S.—you can use this technique to salt other types of eggplant (such as Japanese eggplant).
How to Purge Eggplants
Preparing aubergine is a cinch when you have these two methods on hand. Whether you prefer sweating eggplant or prefer brining it, you’ll find all you need right here.
Method 1: Sweating Eggplants
The first method of salting eggplant—“sweating”—requires zero added liquid. Instead, a generous layer of salt does all the work. Now you can learn how to sweat eggplant in just five easy steps.
- Wash and slice the eggplant: Wash the eggplant under cold water and dry it with a kitchen towel. Then, slice off the stem and cut the eggplant as desired (both cubes and slices will work).
- Sprinkle eggplant with salt: Generously sprinkle your slices with salt, being sure to cover both sides of the eggplant. I recommend using 1 to 2 teaspoons of kosher salt per eggplant depending on the size.
PRO TIP: The key to putting salt on eggplant is to coat the entire surface of the eggplant with a generous amount of salt. A minimum of one teaspoon of kosher salt is necessary for every medium-sized eggplant to draw out bitterness and add sufficient flavor. Furthermore, adding a good amount of salt will help tenderize the eggplant and keep its shape.
- Let the eggplant sit: Place the seasoned eggplant over a colander for 30 minutes to an hour. Once beads of moisture start to appear, rinse your eggplant slices under cold water and remove excess salt.
- Dry the eggplant: Layer a baking sheet with a couple of sheets of paper towels and arrange the drained eggplant slices on top. Then, take another sheet of paper towel and gently press each piece, removing as much excess moisture as possible. Repeat these steps with all remaining slices of eggplant.
Method 2: Brining Eggplants
Soaking eggplant in salt water—also known as “brining”—is another easy way to prepare eggplant. Make a bowl of salt water, add your eggplant slices, and let time work its magic in this simple process.
- Wash and slice the eggplant: Wash the eggplant under cold water. Then, dry it with a kitchen towel and slice off its stem. Next, cut the eggplant as needed (either cubes or slices will work).
- Make the saltwater bath: Fill a large bowl with cool water and stir in a tablespoon of kosher salt.
- Soak the eggplant: Place the vegetable pieces in the brine, submerging each slice of eggplant in the water. If necessary, you may place a small plate on top to ensure no pieces float to the surface. Let the eggplant soak in the salt water for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Drain the brine: Drain the eggplants and rinse them with cold water.
- Dry the salted eggplant: Line a baking sheet with paper towels, and place your drained slices on top in a single layer. Then, use a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to press down on the pieces, drying out the eggplant with gentle pressure.
How to Store
If you’re looking for easy meal prep, these expert storage tips are for you! Not a single bite of your brined eggplant will go to waste when you have this neat guide at your disposal.
- Storage: Once you have prepared eggplant in brine or sweated your slices, store them in an airtight container. Your eggplant will remain fresh for 1-2 days.
- To freeze: To freeze your prepared eggplant, place it in a plastic bag and squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing. The eggplant can remain in the freezer for up to a month. Let the eggplant thaw in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours before using.
Want to know more about preparing eggplant for baking? Whether you’re curious about how to press eggplant or how to remove bitterness from eggplant, here are my answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Eggplants should sweat between 30 minutes and an hour. To check the doneness of your eggplant, look for little droplets of moisture on the vegetable’s surface.
To dry eggplant, all you need to do is blot your slices with paper towels (or a clean kitchen cloth). You may also line a cookie sheet with paper towels and arrange your eggplant pieces on top to remove excess water.
Most people prefer to rinse their eggplant after salting it, but you’ll be fine without this extra step. Instead, you can simply blot excess salt with a paper towel or bypass this step entirely for a super well-seasoned eggplant.
Whether you peel eggplant before cooking is a personal choice. The skin of an eggplant is edible and nutrient-rich. So, if removing the skin is not your thing that is totally fine.
Eggplant Recipes You Might Like
Now that you know how to salt and prepare eggplant for cooking, here are a few recipes you can use eggplant along with a few different ways of cooking it:
- Roasting Eggplant on Stove
- Sauteed Eggplant
- Roasted Eggplant Halves
- Roasted Whole Eggplant
- Eggplant Involtini
- Turkish Eggplant Dip
- Karniyarik Recipe – Aka Turkish Stuffed Eggplant
If you try any of these methods for salting eggplant, please take a minute to rate the recipe and leave a comment about your experience below. It helps others who are thinking of making the recipe. And if you took some pictures, be sure to share them on Instagram using #foolproofeats so I can share them on my stories.
How To Salt Eggplant Recipe
- 1 eggplant*
- Kosher Salt
Method 1: Sweating Eggplants
- Wash and slice the eggplant: Wash the eggplant under cold water and dry it with a kitchen towel or a paper towel. Then, slice off the stem and cut the eggplant as desired.
- Sprinkle eggplant with salt: Generously sprinkle eggplant slices* with one to two teaspoons of salt, being sure to cover season them on both sides.
- All the eggplant slices sweat: Place the seasoned eggplant in a colander for 30 minutes to an hour. Once little droplets of moisture start to appear, rinse your eggplant slices under cold water to remove excess salt.
- Pat-Dry the eggplant: Layer a baking sheet with a couple of sheets of paper towels and arrange the drained eggplant slices on top. Using another sheet of paper towel, gently press each piece to remove as much excess moisture as possible. Repeat these steps with all remaining slices of eggplant.
Method 2: Brining Eggplants (aka Soaking Eggplant in a Salt Water Bath)
- Wash and slice the eggplant: Wash the eggplant under cold water. Then, dry it with a kitchen towel and slice off its stem. Next, slice the eggplant as needed (either cubes or steaks/slices will work).
- Make the salt water bath: Fill a large bowl with cold tap water and stir in a tablespoon of kosher salt.
- Soak the eggplant: Place the eggplant slice in the brine, submerging each slice of eggplant in the water. If needed, place a small plate on top to ensure no pieces float to the surface. Let them soak for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Drain and rinse them with cold water.
- Dry brined eggplant slices: Line a sheet pan with a few sheets of paper towels, and place your drained slices on top in a single layer. Then, use a few paper towels to press down on the pieces, drying out the eggplant with gentle pressure.
- I use widely available globe eggplants. However, you can salt other types of eggplants using this method.
- *As you are salting the eggplant, make sure to coat the whole surface with salt. I use a teaspoon of kosher salt for a medium-sized globe eggplant. However, you can use more or less depending on the size of your eggplant.
I never used to bother to salt eggplant, but tonight I made crumbed fried eggplant and I thought I would try the salting. Glad I did – it made a huge difference. The fried eggplant was firmer, crisper and not soggy, best I’ve ever made. Thanks for your article
Happy to hear that you found it useful. Thanks for coming by and taking the time to leave a review, Sandra.
Please excuse lack of comprehension. In Method 1, do you mean us to salt each slice with a teaspoon or two of salt? Thank you kindly, Deb
No problem. You use 1-2 teaspoons for the whole eggplant.
Hope this clears it up for you.
Great recipe. Thank you for such a thorough and informative post on how to salt eggplant. Your photography is also incredible!!
Thank you, Tracy! I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed reading it.
Wow, everything I ever wanted to know about eggplant but was afraid to ask! Great article!
Thank you Naomi. I am happy to hear that you found it useful.