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eggplant- getting rid of the bitterness question

  • t

I'm trying to make eggplant caviar. Every time I've made it, it has a bitter aftertaste. Here's what I do: roast whole eggplants that have been pricked with a fork at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes- until they are soft and caved in. Let cool, peel, chop finely and add other ingredients. I know that the typical advice for getting out the bitterness involves salting the eggplant and draining it before cooking. However, my mil (who made the best eggplant caviar) never ever salted her eggplant before cooking it. My sil tells me that my mil cooked the eggplant at high heat for a very long time until it was almost burned. Is it possible that cooking it in such a way gets rid of the bitterness? My mil bought her eggplants at the chain grocery store- so this is not a freshness issue. Thanks for any ideas.

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  1. k
    King of Northern Blvd.

    The liquid/moisture in the eggplant is what causes it to be bitter...Salting draws out the moisture....Roasting it till almost burned would do the same in getting rid of moisture...As would grilling it over fairly high heat....That is probably how Mil/Sil did it without salting...

    1 Reply
    1. re: King of Northern Blvd.

      Thanks! Back to the drawing board...

    2. I have never salted eggplant...I just make sure it is cooked enough. It is the raw taste of eggplant that one finds bitter and offensive. When making caponata, I cook the diced eggplant 20 minutes before adding other ingredients.

      1. It is the seeds in eggplants that cause the bitterness.

        Choose firm, plump, smooth, smaller, young eggplant that are light for their size. Do not pick spongy eggplant may be much more bitter since they may be old or overmature. The heavier, the more seeds; the more seeds, the more bitter.

        Male eggplant have fewer seeds. Look for a round shallow indentation on the bottom for a male, females have deep dash shaped indentations. The younger and male eggplants have less seeds, and so are much less bitter.

        12 Replies
        1. re: The Rogue

          I've been making a lot of babaghanous lately and my experiences line up pretty well with the suggestion to select smaller, fresh eggplants- even if you're going to roast the life out of them.

          The part about the male/female differences I didn't know, but I'm sure as hell going to put into use from now on. Thanks for the advice.

          1. re: Tongo Rad

            I prefer to buy 2 small eggplants rather than one big one. Never have bitterness. Never salt them either, and all that jazz others swear by.

            1. re: coll

              I have had the same experience. I almost never buy the big dark purple eggplants, since I have access to zillions of different, smaller eggplants.

              My favorite is the (I think) coeur rouge - a really firm white eggplant with fairly deep ridges and a pink blush. It has few seeds and very smooth, very white flesh.

              The tiny Thai eggplants and Indian eggplants have soooooo many seeds - anyone know how to deal with them? Just learn to love the seeds?

              1. re: snackish

                Yeah, you just learn to love the seeds - but heavy-handed cooking (ash-baking, high temperature roasting, or long stewing) softens up the seeds so they're easy to like. I don't think eggplants are suitable for the lightly-cooked style.

                What are mil and sil? Mom and Pop?

                1. re: Noah

                  "What are mil and sil?"

                  Mother-in-Law and Sister-in-Law

                    1. re: snackish

                      I am not happy with this. Is it supposed to "save time" to use a medium-specific jargon that excludes those who are merely interested in the message?

                      1. re: Noah

                        Hi Everybody,

                        If you wish to discuss internet abbreviations, as they pertain to the postings on chowhound.com, please start a new thread on our Site Talk board.

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                        The Chowhound Team

              2. re: coll

                I bought three small ones (regular eggplants, just smallish in size) but still got the bitterness. I'm gonna try to roast them until almost burned, and if that doesn't work, I'll just have to do the salting thing.

                1. re: twinmommy

                  By slicing, salting, letting it sit for ten minutes, and then wiping the salt and moisture off with a paper towel, you can eliminate the bitterness in a larger eggplant. Also buying them in season helps a lot.

                  But I agree with others that the smaller and firmer the eggplant, the less bitterness you will have to contend with in the first place.

            2. re: The Rogue

              dont use the typical big purple eggplants, go with any of the following..small white one, japanese eggplant, baby eggplant, spanish eggplaint( pink/white striped) and sicilain eggplaints( round dard pink)..all are better than the commericial big purple ones

              1. re: The Rogue

                Made eggplant Parm with local white eggplants, they tasted like "root vegetables" (my husband's description), and I have to admit he was right. Definitely not the same as purple.

              2. I've found letting the prepared eggplant dish rest in the fridge for a least a day does a lot to mellow the bitterness.