Eggplant Jerky

Kia ora whānau, it’s been a lovely week of travel. I am spending some time bussing around the east coast visiting family, and had a chance to play with my old dehydrator while I was home with my mom. One of my favourite things to make is eggplant jerky!

Eggplant is such a versatile food. It’s yummy and healthful raw, sautéed, steamed, fried, microwaved, or roasted. It can be enjoyed on its own, as a key component of a dish like ratatouille, or in a dip like baba ganoush. Eggplant jerky is tough, chewy, intensely flavourful, portable, and kid-friendly. Even better, it’s one of the quicker things you can make in a dehydrator. I use the Excalibur 4-Tray on a steep discount in 2012, and it’s still going strong. If you could find one used, I’d highly recommend that. I use it to dry all kinds of sliced fruit, blended fruit leather, sun-dried tomatoes with spices, and more. 🌞 For the eggplant jerky, I loosely adapted this recipe from The Flaming Vegan. Here’s my version:

What you’ll need:

*2 large eggplants

*2 to 4 Tbsp soy sauce or Bragg’s Amino Acids (I tend to use a blend of both)

*1 to 2 Tbsp maple syrup

*3 to 4 tsp garlic or garlic pepper

*2 to 3 tsp paprika or smoked paprika

*1 to 2 tsp onion powder

*optional: liquid smoke, to taste

What you’ll do:

1) Slice each eggplant into thin strips roughly an inch wide and a quarter of an inch thick. The thinner the strips, the quicker they will dry in the dehydrator. Don’t slice them too thin, or you’ll end up with chips/crisps – more crunchy than chewy (unless that is what you’d like, which can be another fun project!)

2) Toss the eggplant strips with the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. Make sure the liquid completely covers the eggplant. If not, add a smidge more soy sauce and syrup until the eggplant is entirely covered. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator (or just an airtight container if it’s not hot in your kitchen) for at least 2 hours. The longer it sits, the more flavourful your jerky will be.

3. Squeeze each piece flat and let the liquid marinade drain out. You can let it go down the sink or squeeze it into another container to use as a sauce to cook or roast other veggies. Lay the pieces flat on your dehydrator trays, like so. I lay wax paper or baking paper over the sheets so that the marinade doesn’t drip all over the place.

4. Dehydrate at 120 degrees Fahrenheit or 49 degrees Celcius for up to ten hours or so. Your first time, I suggest you check the jerky at four hours and every two hours after that, as drying time will vary greatly depending on your climate and exactly how thin you sliced the eggplant.

Note: I tried baking the eggplant in the oven instead of dehydrating. It was delicious, but really didn’t crisp up at all. I imagine if you brush the eggplant with oil, it would.

What do you like to make in the dehydrator? Have you every had success dehydrating in an oven? Share your favourite projects or requests in the comments, and click “Follow” if you’d like to see more fun and no fuss vegan recipe ideas. 🥰

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