Eggplants have excellent abilities to absorb cooking fats, sauces, and flavors, making the fruit (yes, it is a fruit) versatile to use in many cuisines. It is also increasingly popular to use as a meat substitute for vegetarian dishes for its meaty texture.
Luckily, the nightshade plant is also easy to grow, making it a favorite for home gardeners. Suppose you have an excessive surplus from your harvest or just got a great deal from a farmer’s market. In that case, freezing is always a great option to prolong shelf life for future recipes.
If you want to know how to freeze raw eggplants the right way, keep reading. We have great tips and tricks for you down below.
How to Freeze Eggplant
You have a few options on how you can freeze them – depending on how you want to use them for later meals.
- Freezing blanched eggplant
- Freezing sliced, baked eggplant
- Freezing eggplant puree
- Freezing eggplant-based recipes
Regardless of the method you use, make sure to select the freshest eggplants available. Colors and sizes vary among varieties, but they should be firm with glossy skin and feel heavy for the size. Avoid ones with wrinkled skin, soft spots, and bruises.
Freezing Blanched Eggplant
Eggplant is high in water content. It doesn’t hold up well when frozen raw. It should be fully or partially cooked first before freezing. Otherwise, it will turn mushy, watery, and lose its beautiful color.
If you don’t know how you plan to use the eggplants later, go with this method. Here is how to do it.
- 1. Wash eggplant thoroughly under running water; don’t use soap.
- 2. Peel and slice it into 1/3 – inch thickness. It turns darker quickly once cut. Make sure to prepare enough for one blanching at a time.
- 3. In a large pot, bring water to a rolling boil. Add ½ cup lemon juice per 1-gallon water to help prevent further darkening. Adjust the amount of lemon juice if using more or less water.
- 4. Blanch the slices in boiling water for 4 minutes. Use a timer so you don’t overcook them.
- 5. Once the time is up, quickly transfer them into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.
- 6. Let them cool completely for a few minutes.
- 7. Drain them off in a colander and pat them dry with a paper towel.
- 8. In a lined baking sheet, spread them on a single layer, and flash freeze for a few hours.
- 9. Once frozen, pack them in a freezer bag.
- 10. Leave as little air as possible and seal it tightly.
- 11. Label with the freezing date and freeze it.
Freezing Sliced, Baked Eggplant
This method is perfect if you want to use frozen eggplant for side dishes, soups, or stews. Here is how to do it.
- 1. Wash eggplant thoroughly and slice in 1-inch thick slices or rounds. You can also cut it into cubes and add some seasoning if you prefer.
- 2. Place the slices in a lined baking sheet and bake at 350 °F for 15 to 20 minutes or until soft. Feel free to adjust the cooking time.
- 3. Once done, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool completely.
- 4. Place them in a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and flash freeze for a few hours, so they freeze individually.
- 5. Once frozen, pack them in a freezer bag, suck out excess air, and seal it tightly.
- 6. Write the freezing date and transfer the package to the freezer.
Freezing Eggplant Puree
If you love eggplant dips and spread, having frozen puree will save you lots of prepping time.
- 1. Wash eggplants thoroughly under running water, no soap.
- 2. Place them on a baking sheet. Cut them in half or smaller pieces to fit the sheet, if necessary.
- 3. Poke some holes with a fork to allow the steam to escape during baking.
- 4. Bake at 400 °F for 30 to 45 minutes until they collapse, and the flesh becomes soft and creamy. Adjust the cooking time if necessary.
- 5. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow them to cool promptly.
- 6. When they are cool enough, scoop out the flesh with a spoon and fork.
- 7. For a more smooth consistency, pulse it in a food processor. Or, pack it right away in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container.
- 8. Mark the container with the freezing date and freeze it.
Freezing Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant parmigiana is a classic dish that everyone loves. If you want to prepare the dish ahead of time and enjoy it during a busy weeknight, freezing is your best bet. This freezing method also works for other baked casseroles, such as eggplant lasagna.
Here is how you should do it.
- 1. Prepare the ingredients according to your favorite recipe.
- 2. Assemble them in a lightly-greased freezer-safe and oven-safe dish. This way, you can quickly transfer the dish to the oven for baking without damaging the container.
- 3. Wrap it tightly in aluminum foil. Make sure all the edges are completely wrapped.
- 4. Label with the freezing date and freeze it.
If you deal with leftovers or prefer to freeze the dish after baking, you can freeze it in slices or as a whole. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap before packing them into a freezer bag. For a whole dish, freeze it in an oven-safe dish. This way, you can reheat it in the oven safely without changing the container.
Thawing and Using Frozen Eggplant
Having frozen eggplants is extremely useful. You can use them virtually like the fresh ones. Plus, they’re already baked or boiled, so half of the preparation is already done.
There are plenty of tasty dishes that you can whip up quickly with frozen eggplants; here are some of them.
– Eggplant-based dips, spread, and sauces, such as baba ganoush
– soup, stews, and curries
– vegetarian Bolognese, lasagna, and other pasta dishes
– stuff into sandwiches
To thaw frozen eggplants safely, you have a few options to do it.
– In the refrigerator. Leave it in the fridge overnight to have it ready the next day. Refrigerate unused portions in a sealed container and use it within 3 to 4 days.
– In cold water. Submerge a frozen package in a bowl of ice water and let it thaw completely. Replace the water if necessary. This method is faster, but you need to use the thawed product immediately after thawing.
– In the microwave. If you’re in a hurry, microwave thawing is your last resort. Cook it immediately after thawing.
They can be thrown directly to the cooking pot for preparing soups and stews – no need to thaw out first. For unbaked casseroles, thaw them completely in the refrigerator and bake in the oven at 350 °F to 375 °F for 40 to 45 minutes until lightly brown or bake it as directed by the recipe.
How Long Can You Refrigerate and Freeze Eggplant?
Frozen eggplants keep indefinitely if constantly frozen at 0 °F. For the maximum flavors and textures, use them within 8 to 12 months after freezing before they start losing their freshness and freezer burn begins to set it. Unbaked casseroles are best to eat within 3 months after freezing.
Freshly cut eggplant turns dark quickly when exposed to air. It is best to cut it shortly before cooking to prevent discoloration that will only ruin your dish’s appearance. In case you have some leftovers, drizzle some lemon juice – make sure each piece is coated. Store in a sealed container and keep it refrigerated for 2 to 3 days.
Yes. You can freeze any variety, including the green Thai variety. Follow our instructions above on freezing eggplants for future meals.
Eggplant makes a great candidate for freezing. If you have tons of them, you can easily freeze them in slices (baked or blanched) or pureed. To enjoy your favorite eggplant-based dishes on your busy weeknights, make them in advance and freeze them unbaked. Check our easy tips above on freezing eggplant in various forms.