Easy kitchen tips for preventing eggplant from turning brown. Eggplant can be finicky to cook. It can easily turn to mush and/or an appetizing shade of blue-gray.
Here's why that happens and how to avoid your next eggplant dish from turning brown!
Why Eggplant turns brown
Eggplant, or "aubergine," is a flavanoid of the anthocyanin group, which includes red cabbage, radishes and berries.
In acidic environments, these food are red; at a neutral pH they're purple; in alkaline environments, blue. These foods turn different colors depending upon several factors:
- pH of the cooking water
- type of knife
- type of cookware
- degree of exposure to oxygen
How To Keep Eggplant from Turning Brown
Adjust the pH
Add a hint of acidity (lemon or vinegar) to the cooking water.
This will prevent discoloration during the cooking process.
Another way to reduce the pH is to sprinkle salt over eggplant prior to cooking. This will ward off browning, as it somewhat protects the eggplant against oxidation.
Avoid reactive min cookware and cutlery
Aluminum, tin, copper, iron and cast-iron are reactive metals that negatively interact with the pH levels of acidic foods such as eggplant.
These metals result in the vegetable turning a dull gray or brown color. Luckily, most of today's cookware and cutlery are stainless steel, which is the preferred metal for slicing and cooking eggplant.
You can cook eggplant in enameled cast-iron, but if you cook it in "normal" cast-iron, it will change colors.
Minimize exposure to oxygen
Once you remove the skin and slice the eggplant, immediately submerge the slices in salted water. This reduces the risk of a bitter taste and the water minimizes the exposure to oxygen.
(Place the eggplant in a 9 x 13 baking dish, pour in water, add salt; place saucers on top of the eggplant to submerge it--it will float to the top if you don't.)
Soak the eggplant in salted water for about 15 minutes; pat dry with a paper towel and cook.
Why Soak Eggplant in Salted Water?
Some say that a salt-water soak prevents eggplant from a bitter taste. There's a bit of controversy over this, but I always soak eggplant in salty water prior to cooking in order to prevent it from turning brown.
If you make these eggplant fries, scroll down and leave a rating and comment! I love to hear from you! Thank you!
Crispy Eggplant Fries
- 1 large eggplant peeled and sliced lengthwise
- 2 whole eggs large, lightly beaten
- 2 cups panko crumbs
- 2 tablespoons Italian seasonings , dried
- 1¾ cup oil high heat oil: canola, vegetable, peanut or grapeseed
- 2½ cups water for soaking
- ¼ cup salt for soaking
- shredded Parmesan Optional
Honey Mustard Sauce
- 2 tablespoons ground mustard
- 1½ tablespoons honey or agave nectar
- ⅓ cup plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Using a sharp knife, remove purple skin from eggplant
- Cut eggplant in half lengthwise (or rounds--see Recipe Notes)
- Place In a large pan and cover with water; generously sprinkle ¼ cup salt over eggplant and water; let it soak for 10-15 minutes
- Meanwhile, set up dredging station: using two pie plates, place two lightly beaten eggs in one plate; in the other place the seasoned panko crumbs and italian seasonings ; stir the breadcrumbs and Italian seasonings together to combine
- Remove eggplant from salt water and place on paper towel; pat dry
- In a heavy-bottom skillet, add oil and bring heat to medium high; about 280-300ºF
- Take one eggplant strip and dip it into the egg, coating it well; then dredge it in the panko crumbs.
- Place it in the hot oil and allow to cook for 3 minutes
- Flip eggplant and cook another 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown
- Remove and place on paper towel; lightly garnish with grated Parmesan (optional)
- Repeat with remaining eggplant (I cook mine in batches of 3-4, depending upon how big the eggplant strips are--don't crowd them!)
- Serve with honey mustard dipping sauce if desired
- Slice eggplant into 8 large strips or rounds; make rounds about ¼ inch thick
- Use a heat-tolerant oil: canola, vegetable, peanut, grapeseed or walnut. Definitely do not use olive oil or you'll catch the kitchen on fire.
- Get the oil between 275º-300ºF before you put a stick in. (Use a meat thermometer to determine the heat of the oil.)
- If you smell a burning smell about halfway through, don't panic. That's just some of the panko crumbs crisping-up. Just grab another skillet and put oil in it, then continue frying the rest of the eggplant. (Make sure you let the new oil get good and hot.)
- Place on baking sheet in 375ºF oven for 10-15 minutes uncovered