We roast many different kinds of vegetables before we pickle them, including eggplants, red capsicums, cauliflower, zucchini and fennel. This is also a good way to use up vegies you have in the fridge at the end of the week. For crunchy pickles, you need fresh, crispy vegetables – but for this style of pickling, eggplants that are going a little soft or zucchini that are a bit wrinkly will work well.
This is a good way to use up any excess vegies you have in the fridge. The roasting, pickling and added oil ends up making a more antipasto style of pickle, like those you buy from the delicatessen. They’re perfect for picnics!
- 2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) medium-sized eggplants (aubergines)
- 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp salt
- 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) white wine vinegar
- 375 ml (13 fl oz/1½ cups) water
- 110 g (3¾ oz/½ cup) sugar
For each jar, you will need
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- ½ tsp chilli flakes, or 1 whole red chilli
- 2 oregano sprigs
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil, for covering the eggplant
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Sterilising time: 20 minutes, plus 15 minutes heat-processing (optional - see Notes)
Makes: 4 x 500 ml jars
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Cut the top and bottom off each eggplant, then cut each eggplant lengthways into quarters. Place on a baking tray, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the eggplant is starting to soften and is browning at the edges.
Sterilise your jars and lids (see Notes).
Make your brine by combining the vinegar, water and sugar in a non-reactive, medium-sized saucepan. Place over low heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Increase the heat and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
When the jars are cool enough to handle, add the peppercorns and chilli flakes to each jar.
Strain any excess liquid from the eggplant, then pack each jar half full with eggplant. Add the oregano sprigs and garlic cloves, then pack in the remaining eggplant.
Pour the hot brine over the eggplant, filling each jar only three-quarters of the way up. Remove any air bubbles by gently tapping each jar on the work surface and sliding a clean butter knife or chopstick around the inside of the jars to release any hidden air pockets.
Pour in enough olive oil to completely cover the eggplant. Wipe the rims of the jars with paper towel or a clean damp cloth and seal immediately.
Leave to cool on the benchtop, then store in the fridge for up to 3 months, or heat-process the jars (see Notes) for 15 minutes and store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
Once opened, refrigerate and use within 2 months.
If the oil solidifies in the fridge, leave the jar at room temperature for an hour or so before serving.
• To sterilise jars or bottles, give them a wash in hot soapy water and a good rinse, then place upright in a baking dish in a cold oven. Heat the oven to 110°C (225°F) and, once it has reached temperature, leave the jars in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until completely dry, then remove them carefully. For hot packing, pour the hot chutney straight into the hot jars; for cold packing, le the jars cool before adding your pickles or preserves. To sterilise the lids, place them in a large saucepan of boiling water for 5 minutes, then drain and dry with clean paper towels, or leave them on a wire rack to air dry. Make sure they are completely dry before using.
• Heat-processing uses heat to stop the growth of bacteria. It generates pressure inside the preserving jar or bottle, which forces out any oxygen, creating an uninhabitable environment for micro-organisms. Treating your preserves in this way has two benefits: it lengthens their shelf life, and it ensures the jars or bottles are sealed correctly. Opinions differ on when heat-processing is necessary, but at Cornersmith we encourage our students to heat-process any cold-packed preserves, pickles and bottled fruit - as well as large batches of chutneys and jams that will be stored for some time.
Get the biggest pan you have, such as a stockpot - the taller, the better - and put it on the stovetop. Lay a folded tea towel in the bottom of the pan, then sit your jars on the tea towel, taking care not to cram them in, and keeping them clear of the sides of the pan. (All these measures are to stop the jars from wobbling around and cracking as the water boils). Roughly match the water temperature to the temperature of the jars (to help prevent breakages from thermal shock), then pour in enough water to cover the jars, either completely or at least until three-quarters submerged. Bring to the boil over medium heat. The heat-processing times given in the recipe start from boiling point, and will generally be 10-15 minutes for jars or bottles up to 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cup) capacity, or 20 minutes for larger capacities.
Once the heat-processing time is up, the lids should be puffed up and convex. Carefully remove the hot jars from the water. If you've bought some clamps, now is the time to use them, or you can use oven mitts and a thick cloth to protect your hands. Line your jars up on the benchtop and let them sit overnight. As they cool, a vacuum will form inside each jar and suck down the lid, sealing them securely. In the morning, the lids should be concave: either get down to eye level with the top of the jar to check for the telltale dip in the lid, or lay a pencil across each lid to show the cavity below it.
Recipe and Image from Cornersmith Salads and Pickles by Alex Elliott-Howery and Sabine Spindler (Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99) Photography by Alan Benson.
Read more Cornersmith tips and recipes for cutting waste here.