When Val was a young boy in Italy, his mama would have to save foods to make it through the winter months when not everything grew in abundance like the rest of the year. She was fortunate that their area of Italy was less humid than ours in Florida. She was able to sun dry many of her vegetables such as tomatoes and eggplants by laying them on sheets out in the sun. Once dried she would string them together and hang them in her shed to use later on. When she wanted to cook some, she would simply cut a few off the string to have enough for a meal for the family! Up to now I have been mostly dehydrating herbs for cooking but we recently begun also dehydrating eggplants and other food items.
I was fortunate to find a great dehydrator through Craigslist recently that allows me to adjust the temperatures for the food items dehydrating which makes it much easier to control! Best part was the price — a fraction of the SRP new!
It is important to choose fully ripened but firm eggplants — too soft or leathery and they will not dehydrate evenly and you will not have best quality. Once dehydrated it is possible to store in jars or bags for short term usage but we wanted to be sure for the longer term also. So we cut the eggplants into fairly even strips and placed on the dehydrator trays leaving room for the air to circulate evenly. Then it was simply a matter of waiting 7 – 8 hours for the dehydrator to do its magic! How simple and stress free is that? Nothing else to do for this — merely wash and then slice the eggplants before popping into the dehydrator! After everything was dried, we put in FoodSaver™ bags with a couple O2 absorbers and vacuum sealed the bags — these will keep indefinitely in our pantry!
Of course the very last step is the enjoyable one for any cook — we opened one of the bags already and added the dried eggplants to a bottle of the canned roma tomato marinara I had made the week before. I left everything to simmer a couple hours and then — oh yum! Pure heaven! The marinara had enough liquid to allow the eggplants to rehydrate and yet not be mushy – one of the biggest complaints for those who do not like eggplant normally.