QUESTION: Do I need to soak eggplant before cooking? Will soaking eggplant improve the flavor? -Kev F.
ANSWER: Most eggplants today are bred to be less bitter, but every once in a while, you get your hands on a bitter one from the grocery store. The reason is usually because the eggplant you picked is a little bit old. The longer an eggplant sits around after a harvest, the greater the chance that it is going to be bitter.
Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing how long eggplants have been sitting around when you are shopping for them at the grocery store, so there’s a good chance you will wind up with a bitter eggplant at some point in your life. Luckily, there are a few methods that you can use to temper the bitterness of an eggplant.
Though not everyone agrees about how well it works, salting your eggplant can help to tame the bitter flavor. Some claim that it doesn’t really pull out the bitterness, but just masks the flavor and makes us think that it is less better. Either way, sprinkling a decent amount of salt on your eggplant slices or cubes does seem to lessen the bitterness and also draws out a little of the moisture from the eggplant.
Another method that is not very well known, but is said to work wonders, is soaking eggplant slices or cubes in milk for about thirty minutes before cooking. Not only does the milk seem to take away the bitterness of the eggplant, it also makes the vegetable extra creamy. Eggplant works like a sponge, soaking up the milk into the flesh of the fruit. The final result is creamy and juicy, and the bitterness is all gone.
The quickest way to make your eggplants less bitter is to scoop out and throw away the seeds of the fruit. If you don’t have time to salt or soak your eggplant pieces and just need to cook it quickly, removing the seeds is probably your best choice. Eggplant seeds tend to hold in the majority of the bitterness. The older the eggplant, the more seeds it seems to have. Cut away the inner core of seeds and it should significantly reduce the bitterness of the eggplant.