Canning Eggplant with Gvetch

Are you an eggplant lover looking for a way to can this delectable veggie? Here I share one of my favorite Russian relishes, gvetch. Making home canned gvetch is one of the best ways to preserve eggplant and enjoy it year round.

Do You Love 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 thankfulness.

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.

5 from 1 vote
Gvetch - An Eggplant Recipe
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time-ish
45 mins
Total Time-ish
1 hr 15 mins

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.   

Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Russian
Keyword: canning eggplant, relish, Russian recipe
Serving Suggestion: 4
  • 5 cloves 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
  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. Put in the eggplant, carrots and squash and saute until soft.
  4. Now 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, leave head space of 1", and process quarts for 40 minutes in a pressure canner, adjusting for your altitude. If you use pint jars, you may reduce the time to 30 minutes.

Recipe Notes

There are so many variables in this recipe that its hard for me to give you a precise finished amount. Plan for between 3-5 quarts, or 6-10 pints. Here are some things that alter the volume of the finished product:

  • Did you use all fresh ingredients? If so, the volume of water in these will be higher than in dehydrated or previously canned items like tomato paste. The more water = the more bulk in the gvetch.
  • How long did you simmer the batch? Tomato based canning recipes, like anything simmered, will loose more water the longer you cook them. If you want more bulk in your gvetch and you enjoy it a little on the runny side, cook it until it has only reduced by about a third. If you like it on the drier side, there will be less of it (water in veggies = volume of product) but cook it down until its reduced by about half.
  • Did you fudge and fiddle with the listed amounts because you used what you had? No worries, but that, too, can change the volume of the finished product.

I always wash and heat extra canning jars just in case and I always encourage you to do that, too. It can't hurt and if you end up with more product than you anticipated, you're ready to put it up!

Canning times roughly taken from the NCHFP’s article on canning tomato and okra, FYI.

Canning Gvetch with 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.

To learn how to keep the kids safe and you sane in the canning kitchen, please click here.

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.

Canning Eggplant with Gvetch Resources

Free Sample

Don’t forget to email me for that FREE sample from The Do It Yourself Homestead. We hope the book will be of use to you, but don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what author and eggplant-grower Chris MacLaughlin had to say about the book:

A gardener's praise for The Do It Yourself Homestead

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18 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…

    1. I hope you’ll enjoy it! The only real way to can eggplant is mixed in with other veggies. I didn’t even think I liked eggplant until I lived in Russia and ate it a lot in late summer.

  2. 5 stars
    I was looking for a way to can some eggplant from the garden ans stumbled across this recipe. This is seriously delicious! I will definitely be making this on an ongoing basic for my canning staples! We ate this just on the side with some roasted turkey, but it would be fabulous so many ways, on pasta or rice, as a dip, hot dog topping, or just as a veggie side with a main meal.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. SO glad you enjoyed it! It’s really one of my favorite summer preserves and it goes with everything. Those Russian mamas are smarties!

  3. This recipe sounds delicious & I am excited to use it to preserve my harvest! I have done a little pressure canning & most recipes usually give different processing times for pints & quarts. What size jars are you processing for 40-45 minutes? Also, approximately how many jars does your recipe make?

    1. I’m so glad you asked because I neglected to be specific – my apologies! I’ve adjusted the recipe but depending on how long you simmer, whether your ingredients were fresh and all that jazz, you can plan on under half a dozen quarts with these product amounts. This is the kind of recipe that you can play around with and I seem to use different amounts all the time, though the veggies stay the same. The Russian mom who taught me the recipe told me she always made it with whatever they had the most of in the garden, plus tomatoes and eggplant.

      As far as time goes, pretty standard processing for tomato based mix in a pressure canner: 35-40 minutes for quarts, 35-30 minutes for pints. I have an electric stove (grrrr!!!), so I give myself a window of time since I don’t have a responsive flame control like you do on a gas stovetop.

      Did that help? More confused? Let me know if I didn’t give you what you needed and I’ll do better! I hope you enjoy the recipe – we run out by this time every year and I’m starting to hear complaints. Need to get to this as soon as the tomatoes come on!

    1. So glad you liked the recipe! Unfortunately, this recipe is safe only when done in a pressure canner. I hope you like it!

        1. Because it was canned in a water bath canner the only safe way to store it is in the refrigerator and it will last about a week. To make a shelf stable product, you can use a pressure canner next time as outlined in the instructions for the recipe. So glad you liked the flavor – it’s one of my favorites!!

    1. I always leave the skins on because I’m super lazy! However, you can peel them, if you prefer. Many people dislike the flavor of eggplant skin, though I find it’s not discernable in this recipe at all. Hope that helps!

  4. I will freeze it rather than pressure can. Do you have freezing advice? Thanks – This is perfect for end of garden produce I have at the moment. I would use freezers bags likely.

    1. You can really freeze it any way you’d like – sliced, cubed, in rounds, or as a puree. You’ll want to blanch it to stop the enzymes from ripening the eggplant any further. Or, you can roast it, which has the added benefit of removing excess moisture. You can also cook it into a favorite recipe and freeze the whole meal! Skinning it isn’t necessary but some people don’t care for the flavor of the skin. I usually just keep the skin on, but if I were freezing, I’d try a batch with and a batch without skin to see if the flavor was adversely effected by keeping the skin on. I have to confess, I’ve never had enough leftover to freeze AND make gvetch with, so I always choose gvetch!

      I hope that helps? Let me know if you need more assistance.

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