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 and process for 40-45 minutes in a pressure canner, adjusting for your altitude.

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.

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.

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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8 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!

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