Freezing Eggplant: How to Choose the Best Freezing Method for You
If you plan to preserve part of your summer harvest, put eggplant on the list, particularly if you live in a long-season area. Eggplant starts coming in abundance in late August and can continue into November. You will have lots of opportunity for freezing the extra eggplant.
To reap greatest benefit from your preserved eggplant, make some decisions on the front end. How do you plan to use the eggplant you freeze? Have specific recipes in mind. Those recipes give you a path to follow in your freezing campaign. Here are three ways we freeze eggplant based on how we use it through the winter. You may find them useful as well.
Freezing Roasted Rounds
Suppose one of your favorite dishes is roasted eggplant rounds with Italian cheeses. You can enjoy this recipe all winter long using tomato slices and roasted eggplant rounds from the freezer.
You can take either of two approaches to roasting the eggplant.
- Every time you roast eggplant rounds for dinner, roast extra for the freezer.
- Do a roasting blitz. This is quite efficient when you have a boatload of eggplant to deal with.
The freezing process is simple. In fact, you can freeze the eggplant on the same baking pan in which it roasted.
- Follow the instructions for roasting vegetables. (Find our instructions here or check out this breaded version.)
- Let the pan and eggplant cool. Loosen the eggplant with a spatula, but leave it in the pan.
- Place the pan in the freezer for a couple of hours until the eggplant rounds are firmly frozen.
- Remove the pan from the freezer and work quickly to stack the rounds into freezer bags. Arrange the rounds carefully, taking care not to over-fill the bags so that the bags stack neatly on top of one another. This method saves a lot of freezer space.
- When you need eggplant rounds for a recipe simply remove the number you require. The eggplant is loose and available. It is also cooked and flavored. Your meal will be quick and easy.
Freezing Roasted Eggplant Cubes
Roasted cubes of eggplant are valuable additions to soups and stir-fries. When you have them already seasoned and roasted, just waiting for you in the freezer, cooking is a snap.
- Follow the directions for roasting eggplant cubes.
- Allow the pan and the eggplant to cool.
- Loosen all the little cubes with a spatula.
- Put the pan with the cubes in the freezer for a couple of hours. You want those cubes solid enough that they will not stick to each other.
- Place the frozen cubes in freezer bags. Do not over fill. You want those bags to be able to stack on one another, saving your valuable freezer space.
- Label the bags with as much information as you will need. Do not assume you will remember what went into the bag. Once you start freezing cubes of anything, you realize that most of them look alike.
- The cubes do not need to be thawed to be used in most cases. Drop the frozen cubes into soups or stir fries. They will thaw in a jiff and add rich eggplant flavor to your dish.
Freezing Eggplant Puree
The least labor intensive method of preserving eggplant is to freeze the puree of whole roasted eggplant. This method is simple and fast, but you still have that robust eggplant flavor. Once you have a stash of eggplant puree in the freezer, you will find yourself trying out a number of exciting recipes for using it.
- Follow the directions for making eggplant puree.
- The eggplant must cool a bit before processing, so the puree temperature is usually just a bit above room temperature by the time it is coming out of the food processor.
- Ladle the puree into prepared freezer containers. Freeze the puree in the amounts you expect to use in various recipes. This being the case, you may need to do some shopping in advance to have the proper size of containers. It’s worth the trouble. Later, when you grab a container of puree out of the freezer, you will know that you have enough for your recipe. You will also know that you don’t have so much that you have to figure out what to do with the rest of it.
- Allow for a good half inch of head space in the containers. As the puree freezes, it will expand. If you over-load the container, the expanding puree will pop the lid loose on its container.
- Clearly label the containers to make it easy to locate your puree later. Good labeling can eliminate mussing, fussing, and guessing later. You owe it to yourself.
- Allow several hours or overnight to thaw the puree. It takes more advance planning than the eggplant cubes or eggplant rounds but it’s worth it.