You know eggplant is healthy, but what do you know about sweating an eggplant? Are you doing it for a reason? Or is it just another useless tradition passed down from generation to generation? Read my post to learn about sweating an eggplant like a pro.
What Does It Mean to Sweat an Eggplant?
Sweating an eggplant (which is also called salting eggplant) is a process in which we cut pieces of eggplant and let them sit in salt for a certain amount of time. This process draws out all the excess moisture from the vegetable in the form of little beads resembling sweat, which is where it got its name.
What Is the Purpose of Sweating?
Before getting into how to sweat an eggplant, let’s shed some light on why you should sweat it in the first place and if it really makes a difference.
There are three purposes for salting eggplant:
- To remove excess water
- To prevent it from absorbing too much oil
- To get rid of the bitterness
Let’s examine each reason individually and determine if it does the required job.
Does Sweating Remove Excess Water?
Yes, it does. If you sprinkle salt over your eggplant and put it into a colander over a bowl, you will soon notice the brownish water dripping into the bowl. This water comes from the eggplant, leaving it soft and floppy.
This means that your eggplant won’t become a mushy mess while cooking, leaving you with a soft, creamy texture and rich taste.
But if you are following a recipe that requires firm eggplant pieces, such as ratatouille, there is no need to sweat them.
Does Sweating Prevent the Eggplant From Absorbing Too Much Oil?
If you sweat your eggplants because you heard that it prevents the eggplant from soaking up oil, you can stop. This claim is entirely false. Both salted and unsalted eggplant absorb the same quantity of oil.
Can Sweating Remove the Bitterness of Eggplant?
The third reason for sweating, to eliminate bitterness, is somewhat of a myth. People did this in the past when every eggplant had the same bitter flavor profile.
Modern eggplants are bred for milder flavors and aren’t as bitter. Additionally, bitterness also depends on the age and variety of the eggplant. So, you can avoid it by getting fresh, firm, medium-sized eggplants that aren’t too mature.
How to Sweat an Eggplant Like a Pro
Having discussed all the benefits of salting an eggplant, let’s move on to how to do it like a pro.
Below are a few easy-to-follow methods that you can try:
Method 1: Salting the Eggplant Dry
Wash and Cut the Eggplant
First, rinse the eggplant and peel off the skin, or you can leave it if you prefer. Next, cut the eggplant in your desired shape, like cubes or slices, whatever you like or the recipe calls for.
Next, sprinkle salt over the eggplant. You can use kosher salt, regular table salt, or whatever you have on your shelf. Spread the salted slices over a cooling rack or in a colander to collect the water that drips off them.
We should also note that this process requires a lot of salt—even more salt than you think. Usually, you’ll need ½ to one tablespoon for each medium-sized eggplant. For larger ones, you may need as many as two tablespoons.
Let the Cubes Rest
Drawing out the moisture from an eggplant takes time. Let your prepped cubes rest for between thirty minutes and an hour. Watch as the water starts beading up on the surface.
Wash the Excess Salt Off
After sweating, take the eggplant and run it under cold water for a few minutes to rinse off the salt. Make sure you wash out most of the excess salt since not doing so can make the final dish too salty.
Pat the Eggplant Dry
Place the washed eggplant between two paper towels and slightly press it down using your palm to remove as much water as you can. Use the sweated eggplant as soon as possible.
Method 2: Soaking Eggplant in Saltwater
Cut the Eggplant
Again, start by cutting the eggplant into slices or cubes. But, if you have a smaller variety, such as Japanese eggplant, you skip the cutting process. Simply removing the skin and poking holes with a fork will do.
Create Your Saltwater
The next step is to prepare the saltwater solution. Grab a bowl big enough to contain the sliced eggplant pieces, and add tap water and salt. You’ll have to add a tablespoon of salt for every two cups of water. Mix up the solution to dissolve the salt.
Soak the Eggplant
Transfer the eggplant pieces to the bowl and stir. Leave the eggplant soaking in the water for about thirty minutes, then drain. You don’t need to rinse the eggplant off in this method.
Press the Eggplant Dry
Keep the eggplant between paper towels and press slightly to release the extra water. Use the eggplant immediately for a crispier texture.
Sweating eggplant has a lot of benefits. It helps draw out the excess moisture and bitterness and is particularly effective for fried eggplant recipes. Sweating eggplant brings out the flavor when cooking and ensures the final dish does not turn soggy.
But you don’t have to sweat eggplant. If you are on a low-sodium diet or short on time, you can skip this step and proceed with the recipe. The eggplant will still taste delicious!
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