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Aubergines are affordable and easy to use in different recipes but they are prone to turning brown once exposed to oxygen before and after ripening. Extreme temperatures and damage can also turn the flesh mushy and off-coloured, though proper storage is the best way to protect them from going off while on the shelf. As with most vegetables, the fridge is the best place for aubergines to be kept before use, and there’s one compartment that will keep them fresher for even longer.
How to store aubergines
Marcin Skrzypiec, author of Does It Go Bad said: “You can either refrigerate your aubergines for about one week or leave them at room temperature, where they’ll keep for three to four days.”
The food storage expert noted that no matter where you choose to keep them, you should remember that these purple vegetables are “sensitive to ethylene”, which means they should be kept away from bananas, apples and pears in particular.
If this is not an option, you should keep the aubergines in a bag to protect them from ethylene gas. When it comes to choosing the perfect spot to keep fresh aubergines, you should consider the environment.
Marcin said: “Aubergines prefer spaces with high humidity, and the most humid place in the fridge is usually the crisper drawer, so that’s the recommended storage place in the refrigerator – even though it’s not the warmest.”
He added that in short, if you do keep them in the fridge they should always be placed either in the drawer or on a shelf near the door. If you choose the latter, placing the vegetables in plastic bags will help them to “retain moisture”.
However, if your fridge tends to run cold or foods are prone to freezing in the drawer, you should avoid the crisper drawer – especially if the freezer is right below it.
This is because aubergines are prone to chilling injury when stored at low temperatures below 10C. Marcin said: “The lower the temperature, the sooner the chilling injury will set in.”
He added: “At 5C, which is the temperature you should have in your fridge if it’s not running cold, the injuries such as pitting, surface bronzing, and browning of seeds and pulp will show up in six to eight days.”
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For this reason, aubergines will only last around one week in the fridge. While you can leave them at room temperature to avoid such “injury”, it will reduce their shelf life to just three or four days.
According to the food storage blogger, this could be even less if it’s the middle of a hot summer and the room is warm all day long.
Of course, the best way to prevent aubergines from “going off” is to use them soon after buying them, but there are other ways to preserve their firm, shiny texture.
Cooked, sliced aubergines can be stored in the fridge, where they’ll last three to four days in an airtight container or freezer bag.
If you want to stop them from turning brown, Marcin suggested spraying all the pieces thoroughly with lemon juice.
He said: “Freezer bags work great for large pieces, like halves, quarters, or slices. An airtight container is usually more convenient for smaller pieces, such as cubed or shredded aubergine as you can wash it in the dishwasher.”
Vinegar should work too due to its acidity, though you probably don’t want to pour vinegar over your vegetables and risk altering their flavour.
If you need more time than the given three to the four-day period for consuming cooked aubergine, you can often freeze it or the dish it’s in.
Marcin noted that while some cooked dishes, such as fritters freeze well, others are not so well-suited to the cold temperature – for example, roasted aubergine.
If you want to prolong a whole aubergine, cut it up into equal slices and cook through. Lay them on a parchment-lined sheet pan with adequate space between each one.
Leave to cool to room temperature before moving them to the cold environment in your freezer. Once cooled, freeze uncovered until solidly frozen before transplanting them to a freezer bag as needed.
The vegetable slices can then be defrosted and added to a curry or other flavoursome recipes to resemble the texture and taste of fresh aubergines.
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