Pickled eggplant (Melanzane Sott’Olio) has been a staple of our Italian American pantry for 40+ years. Along with giardiniera (a mix of pickled vegetables including carrots, cauliflower, celery, etc.) sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, and pickled mushrooms, our family keeps large quantities of pickled eggplant in our cool, basement, pantry. We use both melanzane sott’olio and giardiniera (and all of our pickled goodies) as side dishes for roasted meats, impromptu lunches with good bread, canned tuna, cheese, and salumi, and, on occasion, in a sandwich or panino.
You can find our recipe for picked eggplant or Melanzane Sott’Olio below but please have a look at our note on Clostridium Botulinum before trying the dish.
Note and Disclaimer (viz a viz Clostridium Botulinum)
It’s vital when you cure vegetables in olive oil that you thoroughly clean the jar itself as well as all the ingredients and utensils used in the preparation. My family has been curing and pickling vegetables (as well as canning tomatoes) for well over 50 years and we haven’t had any health issues. Although our family has been doing this for many years without incident, there aren’t good studies establishing this practice as safe. Many food safety authorities advise against preserving tomatoes and garlic in oil due the risk of bacterial contamination and proliferation of spores, especially clostridium botulinum, which could be fatal.
- 4-6 garlic cloves (left whole or cut in half)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 pound of eggplant (Sicilian or standard variety are fine)
- ½ cup white vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- fresh basil leaves
- fresh hot pepper(s)
- 1 whole bay leaf (optional)
- Extra Virgin Olive oil (enough to cover contents of the glass jar)
- Peel eggplant and cut into long strip (about three inches long and a quarter inch wide) - thick of hand cut french fries.
- Place the eggplant strips in a large metal colander and sprinkle liberally with Kosher salt. Place a weight on top of the eggplant and let the salt, eggplant, and weight do its magic for 2-3 hours (viz., remove the moisture).
- Remove the eggplant from the colander and squeeze any remaining liquid out of the eggplant by hand.
- In a large pot, bring the vinegar and water to a boil and add the eggplant. Cook for 2-3 minutes (any longer and the eggplant will lose it's crunch).
- Drain via a colander (with a weight, again) and lit sit for 12-24 hours (in the fridge if you'd like).
- Remove the eggplant strips and squeeze any excess water/moisture by hand. In a very clean glass jar fill with the remaining ingredients: eggplant, garlic, hot pepper(s) - chopped or un-chopped, basil, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil (the olive oil should completely submerge the ingredients - do this slowly).
- Put eggplant in glass jar with fresh garlic cloves , fresh cut into big chunks hot peppers, fresh mint and good drizzle of olive oil. Shake up and refrigerate. Makes 1 quart. Enjoy!