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Cooking with Eggplants
If your cooking eggplant, your recipe probably calls for you to sweat your eggplant. Unless you are grilling your eggplant whole to make Baba Ganoush.
What is Sweating an Eggplant?
Eggplants are like giant sponges and before you prepare them, they are full of water. Before cooking eggplant you will want to get all of this water out. The process of drawing the water out from an Eggplant is know as Sweating.
What if you don't Sweat an Eggplant?
If you do not sweat your eggplant before you cook it you will save a lot of time. However, you will end up with a more bitter tasting eggplant.
Why so Bitter?
Depending on the type of eggplant you are cooking you may not need to sweat it, or sweat it for very long.
Usually the darker the variety the more bitter it is and longer it should sweat. The classic dark purple eggplants you find in most grocery stores may need to be sweat for several hours. However, you may be able to skip the sweating process all togher when using white or light purple eggplants, like the Lavender Touch variety shown above.
The sex of the eggplant also plays a major role in how bitter the eggplant will be. Female are more bitter than the males, this is because the females contain more of the bitter seeds. You can tell the Females from the Males by looking at the belly buttons on the bottom of the eggplant. The belly button on the males will be perfectly round and not as deep as the females.
Lastly the ripeness of the eggplant will effect the bitterness. As the eggplant ages it will get more and more bitter.
How to Sweat an Eggplant
First you will want to place a cooling rack over your sink. This will let the water from your eggplant drip directly into your sink.
Simply place your slices of eggplant on the cooling rack.
The key for sweating an eggplant is Salt. Salt breaks down the cell walls, freeing the water that is trapped inside.
Just sprinkle a little salt on each piece of eggplant and let them sit on the cooling rack.
After about 10 minutes you will start to see the first beads of sweat forming on the tops of slices of eggplant. Once you start to see these beads of water it is safe to flip them over. Don't worry the salt will now stick to the bottom of the eggplant.
Now you can salt the other side of the eggplant slices and wait any where from a half hour to 3 hours. The longer you wait the more water will be drawn out.
Rinse and Dry
Once enough water has drained out of your eggplant you will want to rinse the slices of eggplant with cold water. This will help remove the salt from the eggplant.
Then place the eggplant on top of several paper towels. Place another layer of paper towels over top and press firmly to remove any remaining water.
Your eggplant is done sweating and you can continue cooking.