Canning Eggplant with Gvetch

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Gvetch, a Russian caponata l This vegetable relish is a great way to preserve your eggplant l Homestead Lady (.com)Are you an eggplant lover looking for a way to can this delectable veggie?  Here I share one of my favorite Russian relishes, gvetch. Gvetch is a great way to get your eggplant preserved to enjoy year round.

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For the Love of Eggplant

To an English speakers ears, gvetch sounds like something you might hork up.  It’s not, I promise.  Gvetch is the most wonderful eggplant, pepper and tomato relish you’ve ever put in your mouth.  Or, it will be, once you make it.  The Russians call relish “salat” and they eat it on pretty much anything.

I lived as a missionary in Russia in my early twenties.  Twenty years later, I can still taste the salats I was served on crackers, bread and just spooned from the jar.  For a Russian woman, food preservation is a normal part of their year.  They put up everything they possibly can so they’re able to nourish their families during the long, cold winters.  Good, healthy food is such a beautiful tradition.  I often think back to those women who opened up their kitchens to me.  I still love them fiercely, even through all these years.

You Can’t Safely Can Eggplant

The fact is, there are no approved, safe canning recipes for eggplant in contemporary American canning books.  What’s an eggplant lover to do?

The other problem I’ve run into personally is that no one else in my family likes eggplant.  What, seriously, is wrong with these people?! So, I have to hide my eggplant in gvetch and be content to eat it up every year with thanksgiving.

If you’d like to know how to freeze eggplant, just click here.

To learn to dehydrate eggplant (and a few other methods), try this post.

Gvetch – An Eggplant Recipe

This recipe is very adaptable and each Russian mother probably has her own version.  I pressure can my gvetch so that I can safely add carrots, which is how I ate it in Russia.

If you want to be able to water-bath can something similar to gvetch, try this recipe for caponota.  Caponata is the Italian version of gvetch but has tomato paste and vinegar to make it safe to water-bath can.  I like caponata a lot, but it’s not gvetch.  I make both recipes most years.

Ingredients

  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 4 medium sized peppers, chopped and seeded
  • 3 medium sized eggplants, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, chopped or grated
  • 3 medium sized zucchini or summer squash
  • Whole, peeled tomatoes – about two pounds, or 30 Roma sized tomatoes – cut into chunks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon each basil, oregano and thyme – OR, herbs to taste

Directions

  1. Sautee chopped onion and garlic in about one tablespoon of oil until the onions are opaque.
  2. Add peppers and saute with about five minutes.
  3. Add eggplant, carrots and squash and saute until soft.
  4. Add the tomatoes.  You can used canned, if you’d like.  I usually make this in the summer when tomatoes are abundant so I use fresh Romas, or a similar variety.  If you’re using fresh, I recommend you peel them first.  For a handy way to peel tomatoes, click here.  Or, you can do it however your Grandma taught you.
  5. Cook together until everything is very soft and you’re able to mash the eggplant with a potato masher.  I don’t use my submersion blender because I like the chunks.  You want any large pieces mashed down to smaller bits.  It should look very relish-y.
  6. Add spices and let it simmer for five more minutes.  Taste and adjust spices, as needed.  Remember, though, that spices in canned items get a stronger flavor over time.  So, don’t go crazy.
  7. Ladle into clean, hot jars and process at 15 pounds of pressure for 40-45 minutes in a pressure canner.

Involve the Kids

Involve the kids in this process because there is a lot of chopping for this recipe.  Knife skills are really important to master if you want your children to become competent cooks.  As you chop together, talk about why you bother with all this canning of fresh, wholesome food every year.  Share with them your passion for healthy eating and your love for them.

You love them so much you can all summer so that they can eat quality food all winter!  If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.  That’s something they’ll remember, even if you end up with that one kid who refuses to preserve anything once they’re older.

How to Eat your Eggplant Gvetch

If you’re new to the idea of vegetable relishes, here are a few ideas for using up your gvetch.

Try it stuff into pitas or on top of your favorite sourdough bread as an appetizer.

Add it to scrambled eggs or quinoa.  In fact, combine some of those and try gvetch on these breakfast pitas.

Serve it to the side of pork chops.  Or, especially if you’re a hunter, on top of these venison burgers.

Experiment with your eggplant gvetch until you find your favorite way to gobble up all that goodness preserved during summer’s harvest.

For a Romanian version of this recipe, that includes the step of grilling your eggplant, visit this post from Homestead Honey.

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Eggplant graphic gratefully attributed to this Wikipedia Commons user.

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2 thoughts on “Canning Eggplant with Gvetch

  1. This sounds delicious! We make something similar in our Russian heritage but call it “eekra”… I will have to try canning your recipe on our next eggplant harvest! My grandmother used to can hers but I don’t think she followed any rules 🙂

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Jes! How have you been?

      I’ll bet every Russian grandma has their own way of doing it and each is delicious. I watched one of my friends make it once and she certainly wasn’t using a recipe. It was hard trying to create one, I’ll tell you that! I think it tastes different every season. But, regardless, I’m transported every time I eat it. Those were the days…

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