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.
Gvetch - An Eggplant Recipe
- 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
- Sautee chopped onion and garlic in about one tablespoon of oil until the onions are opaque.
- Add peppers and saute with about five minutes.
- Put in the eggplant, carrots and squash and saute until soft.
- 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.
- Cook together until everything is very soft and you're able to mash the eggplant with a potato masher. You want any large pieces mashed down to smaller bits. It should look very relish-y. If you want it smooth, use an immersion blender.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. You don't want this relish to become too dense or it will not heat all the way through and, therefore, won't heat to the center to properly preserve it.
- 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.
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.
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: