3 Things You Can Do to Temper Bitter Eggplants

updated Nov 30, 2022
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(Image credit: Karen Biton-Cohen)

The mighty eggplant is loved and adored by many — that is, until you bite into a bitter one. Luckily, there are a few things you can to do tame bitter eggplant.

Why Eggplants Can Be Bitter

While most eggplants these days are bred to be less bitter, every once in a while you may still get one that is. The reason for this is likely because it’s old. Young, fresh eggplants that you purchase at the farmers market are rarely bitter because they’re newly picked.

The longer the eggplant sits after being harvested, the chances of it becoming bitter grow, which is why your highest chance of purchasing a bitter vegetable is at the grocery store, especially out of season, when it’s been shipped from afar and you have no idea how long it’s been sitting around.

What to do if that happens? Here are three tips.

3 Ways to Temper Bitter Eggplants

1. Salt it.

The most tried-and-true method for getting rid of bitterness in eggplants is hotly debated. Some say that it doesn’t really pull out the bitterness, but instead just masks our perception of it. Regardless, sprinkling a good amount of salt over eggplant slices or cubes before they’re cooked does draw out some of its moisture and lessens the bitterness. Let them sit for about an hour and then lightly rinse some of the salt off before cooking.

2. Soak it in milk.

This is another common practice that many swear by, but is lesser-known. Soak eggplant slices or cubes in milk for about 30 minutes before cooking. The milk not only tempers the bitterness, but it actually makes for eggplant that is extra creamy, since the vegetable acts like a sponge and soaks up a good amount of milk in its flesh.

3. Scoop out the seeds.

If you don’t want to lose time by salting or soaking, you can always just cut away the seeds. The seeds tend to hold in most of the bitterness, and older eggplants can have a whole lot of seeds. Cut away the inner core of seeds and it should mitigate the bitterness.