The One Thing to Do with Vegetables and Fruit Before Baking

published Jan 26, 2016
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(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

I’m quick to jump at any chance I can get to pack more veggies and fruit into meals and snacks. Of course there are salads and smoothies, but the other surprisingly easy way to do this is with baking. Quiche, casseroles, bread, and muffins have all become fair game.

But whatever it is I’m baking with veggies or fruit, it reaps a big benefit from adding one extra step to my cooking process.

(Image credit: Christine Han)

While the amount varies from vegetable to vegetable, and fruit to fruit, they all contain water. Some, like eggplant, squash, tomatoes, berries, and melon have high water contents — enough to turn an otherwise superb bread, quiche, tart, or casserole into a soggy mess.

Most produce, whether it contains a little or a lot of water, can really benefit from salting and draining before getting baked into anything.

Why It’s Important

This process, known as disgorging, uses salt to pull the excess water from your fruit and vegetables. It’s an extra step — one that might not even be printed in your recipe. And while it will add some extra time to the process, it’s worth the effort.

The main benefit of disgorging is removing the excess water, but it also helps draw out and accentuate the fruit or vegetable’s natural flavor. Bonus: It cuts the bitterness in vegetables like eggplant.

But First, Prep Your Produce

To make this process work for you, you’ll need to prep your produce first. The inner flesh needs to be exposed in order for the salt to pull out the excess water. Once your fruit or veggies are prepped, spread them in a single layer onto a paper towel-lined baking sheet or in a colander. Sprinkle liberally with salt, and let them sit for about 20 minutes, while the salt pulls the excess moisture outwards. Then wipe your produce with a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to dry and remove the salt before baking.