The Reason You Should Be Microwaving Your Eggplant

If you're an eggplant fan, you already know this vegetable (technically a fruit) is versatile, showing up in recipes ranging from Asian-inspired spicy garlic eggplant to comforting eggplant gratin. It also makes a tasty classic French ratatouille. Eggplant is a widely-available produce item that's high in fiber, rich in nutrients, and according to Healthline, has a mild flavor that goes well with many ingredients — for the most part.

When you search eggplant recipes on the internet, you'll come across a lot of information about the fruit tending toward bitterness. While that might have been true early in the domestication of eggplants, as the chef Sara Jenkins told Epicurious, "the claim is reminiscent of a time when eggplants were more bitter. Today, eggplants are grown not to have that kind of bitterness." Nonetheless, many eggplant recipes still take steps to negate bitterness, calling for the eggplant to be sliced, salted, and drained in a colander.

Even if the eggplant you buy doesn't have a bitter flavor, there are other reasons to drain some of its moisture. As explained by Cook's Illustrated, softening eggplant with salt before cooking can help the slices absorb less oil and results in a less-greasy finished dish. But if you don't feel like waiting for up to 10 hours for salted eggplant to drain, you can employ a different method to draw some moisture out — and it's a much faster process.

Try microwaving salted eggplant between layers of paper towels

Eggplant can act as a sponge for oil when cooking, becoming unappealingly greasy. According to Cook's Illustrated, this is due to the structure of the fruit. It has air and water pockets that absorb fat when you cook the eggplant in oil without first removing moisture, often leading to greasy eggplant. Salting and draining eggplant pulls water from the fruit using osmosis, collapsing some air pockets. Fewer air pockets mean the eggplant won't soak up as much oil.

But since this process usually takes a long time, the outlet has a suggestion for achieving the same result more quickly using that handy kitchen appliance, the microwave. The technique involves tossing chopped eggplant in salt, laying it out on paper towels, then microwaving it for a few minutes. This will achieve the same result. Some of the eggplant's moisture will leech out onto the paper towels, leaving it soft, pre-seasoned, and ready to incorporate into favorite dishes.