Eggplant Jam

eggplant jam recipe blog

The words “eggplant” and “jam” together might throw you, but if you stop to consider that eggplant – like tomatoes and squash – are botanically fruits, the idea doesn’t seem all that far-fetched. (Although there are plenty of fruits I wouldn’t advise flavoring with garlic.)

I’ve been on a kick, exploring and enjoying flavors of the Middle East lately. And to take my mind of my rapidly escalating olive oil budget, I was leafing through one of my favorite books, From Tapas to Meze by Joanne Weir, and came across this jam. I’m a big fan of eggplants, which is a good thing since they frequently show up in foods of the Middle East, as well as in dishes of their neighbors in North Africa. And even though I could happily eat my way through all of those countries, luckily in Paris, they’re abundantly available here as well.

eggplants for eggplant jameggplants
sliced eggplantfresh eggplants for eggplant jam

This is one of those recipes that you don’t need to spend a few days shopping for all the ingredients. You just need three eggplants, some spices and garlic, and olive oil, all of which you probably have on hand. But for a dish with just a few ingredients, the results are complex, yet adaptable to a variety of cuisines. If you liked skewered meats, it would be a marvelous condiment alongside. And for those across the Atlantic, it could dress up an all-American hamburger – or a lamburger, if you’re so inclined.

The subtle dab of harissa, the fiery hot sauce, gives it a tantalizing little kick, and Joanne recommends using this eggplant jam as a spread on warm grilled bread. I served it as part of a summer dinner this weekend composed entirely of bowls of appetizers, dips, olives, salads and, well-chilled wine, which is how I like to eat…and drink. I put everything on bowls and let guests help themselves, and this dish got the most remarks.

baked eggplant for eggplant jameggplant jam

As I was putting everything on the table, at the last-minute, I added a few dribbles of syrupy pomegranate molasses over the top of the jam, whose sweetness contrasted wonderfully with the richly spiced eggplant.

cooking eggplant jam

Eggplant Jam

Adapted from From Tapas to Meze (Ten Speed Press) by Joanne Weir


The amount of salt will vary, depending on how much you use to salt the eggplant, and what salt you use. So you’ll have to depend on your own taste, which – in my experience – most of us are pretty good at.

  • 3 medium eggplants
  • kosher or sea salt, or similar flaky salt
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon or allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon harissa, or hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley


optional: Pomegranate molasses, for serving (see Note)


1. Rinse and dry the eggplants, then use a vegetable peeler to remove the peel in vertical strips, leaving about an inch (3 cm) of space between each peeling. Slice the eggplant lengthwise, about 1/2-inch (2 cm) thick.

2. Sprinkle a modest amount of salt on the eggplants and let stand vertically in a colander for about 30 minutes, shaking it every once in a while over the sink to extract some of the eggplant juices.

3. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Brush two baking sheets fairly well with olive oil and lay the eggplant slices on the baking sheets in a single layer, then flip them over.

4. Bake the eggplants for about 25 minutes, flipping them on the baking sheets midway during baking.

5. Once the eggplants are cooked, put them in a large bowl with the garlic, paprika, cumin, cinnamon or allspice, harissa, and water, and mash them well with a fork or potato masher.

(Not all the eggplant skins will break up into little pieces. They do get rather soft during the double cooking, but if you’re the kind of person bothered by them, you can briefly pulse the cooked eggplant in a food processor or chop it on a cutting board with a chef’s knife.)

6. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and cook the mashed eggplant mixture on rather low heat, stirring frequently so it doesn’t scorch on the bottom. It tends to stick a bit, but just scrape in those brown bits which might form on the bottom of the pan.

7. Continue to cook the eggplant until it’s thick and most of the moisture is removed, about 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and let cook another minute, then remove from heat and add the parsley. When cool enough to taste, check and add a bit of salt and lemon juice. Serve drizzled with pomegranate molasses, if you wish.


Storage: The Eggplant Jam will keep for up to five days in the refrigerator. Serve slightly warm, or at room temperature.


Note: Pomegranate molasses, which is sometimes called Pomegranate Syrup, is available in stores that specialize in Middle Eastern and North African products, or online. You can also make your own pomegranate molasses as well.


Related Recipes

Eggplant Caviar

Eggplant Stewed in Honey and Spices (Traveler’s Lunchbox)

Cucumber and Feta Salad

Eggplant Fetteh (Desert Candy)

Lebanese-Style Stuffed Eggplant (Smitten Kitchen)

Cabbagetown Hummus

Roasted Eggplant with Saffron Yogurt (Nami-Nami)

Grilled Eggplant, Tomato, and Feta Salad (Kalyn’s Kitchen)

61 comments

  • Apparently treating eggplant as a fruit for dessert isn’t that weird. Have you seen this recipe? Eggplant is by far my favourite “vegetable” but I can’t quite bring myself to eat it with vanilla ice cream yet.
    http://www.gourmet.com/recipes/2000s/2009/08/eggplant-tarte-tatin-with-black-pepper-caramel

    • There is an Italian dessert which is a candied eggplant with ricotta, chocolate, and candied orange. I saw it on a restaurant menu once and was compelled to order it. (The waiter, perhaps detecting my non-Italian accent, advised me not to order it!) But I did, and it was great. Although it’s probably not for everyone…

  • Hi Dave.. I love your experiements with Middle East cuisine. This looks like a winner !! By the way, Eric Kayser has just opened his bakery on third avenue here… I hope it’s as good as Paris…. Thanks

  • I love using eggplants in odd ways. On my one and only visit to your adopted city, years ago, I tried an odd, but intriguing dessert of eggplant compote at Thierry Coue’s Les Amognes – Crêpe fourrée à la compote d’aubergine

    Later on (much later on, but it stuck with me) I took some inspiration from that dessert and came up with a tart version that we’ve been serving on and off here at the resto in Buenos Aires (how these things do travel!): http://www.saltshaker.net/20100919/symphony-of-vegetables

  • I could get used to eggplant jam. What a delicious idea to spread on some crusty bread accompanied by a glass of wine.

  • I love eggplant as a culinary palate and this recipe sounds like it will make it a beautiful work of art. I concur on your casual entertaining style as well, I think guest love a chance to serve themselves and explore new things. Can’t wait to try this, I am thinking it would be good with scrambled eggs for brunch?

  • Summer and eggplant go hand in hand. I love making caponata when all the produce is fresh and abundant. Using an eggplant spread on a sandwich is terrific and much more interesting than mayonnaise! I like the idea of ramping up the spice in this recipe. Definitely going to have to try!

  • a chef friend said you can skip the salting of the eggplant and then the 30 minute wait, by just roasting on a pan for 40 minutes at 425 w/ 1 T of oil and 1 tesp of salt (with occasional stirring).
    This dish is a lot like a Persian bademjan..just missing the tomatoes but definitely including the pomegrante molasses.
    YUM

  • I consume and experiment with a lot of eggplant this time of year, but no, I would never have thought of making jam with it. I can imagine coating lamb or chicken with this jam in a tagine.

  • Great idea, I love the idea of spooning this onto crusty bread for an appetizer.

  • This looks like the perfect way to use summer eggplant! I love how it gets so soft and sweet when it’s baked — very original. Love it!

  • I love eggplant (or aubergine as we call it!) and this looks like a lovely recipe. What is the difference do you think between a jam, a marmalade, chutney or relish? It seems to me that they all describe the same thing these days…… in my mind a chutney or relish is something you serve with a savoury dish, marmalade is made from bitter oranges and jam is made with sott fruits, further sweetened with sugar and eaten on toast (and generally pink or red)…….but then I’m obviously getting old and pedantic (funny how you catch yourself out like that!)

  • I would love to try this. Where do I get pomegranate molasses? I also live in France but in Cannes so a long way from Paris! Any ideas? Many thanks. Jackie

    • If you live in Cannes, you’re very close to Nice (and Marseilles) and I am certain there are a number of Middle Eastern or North African épiceries where you can get it. If you want to find it online, you can use my tips here.

  • Thanks for sharing the recipe. I am going to make it and finish with mint instead of parsley.

  • Was looking at your list of ‘Stuff I Like” and was reminded that I hadn’t heard who won the ice cream maker.

    The winners were announced in the post, and were contacted. – dl

  • I would have never thought of using it in jam. There are bunches of eggplants at the farmer’s markets here in Iowa, and I hadn’t bought any for lack of knowing what to do with them. (I was tempted to buy them just because their deep rich colors and curvy shape are such fun!)
    Thanks for the recipe!!

  • Last night I made eggplant pureed into bechamel made with olive oil, added muenster, and covered it with sauteed chicken-onion-peppers-tomato, called “The Sultan was Enchanted” from a translated Turkish cook book sampler.

    Now I will make jam as soon as my eggplants ripen. I too am on a Middle Eastern exploration, and have been for a couple of years. An interesting cuisine, and cooking techniques. I’ve explored your shatshouka recipe and added more I found and I think I finally get it.

    Thanks for your postings.

  • I love eggplant. Never thought of making a jam out of it – sounds delightful – thank you!

  • Wow, would I go crazy over this. So many of the flavors I love. And don’t groan, but I am actually wondering if you could make this in a slow cooker!

  • Love eggplant. I’ve had it a thousand divergent ways and I never tire. I have not however, had it with pomegranate molasses. So can’t wait.

  • Shaloha David.
    It’s @DaniaKatz or @DaniaEdibleHI from Maui. My family goes to Israel every December and I look forward to eggplant jam, fresh pita, Turkish coffee and cheese for breakfast everyday I’m there. Toda.

  • This looks like a delicious way to eat eggplant: I’ll try it when the eggplants start rolling in next month. I love pomegranate molasses altogether and will follow your suggestion of adding it.

  • This looks and sounds fantastic! Imagine how great it would be with freshly baked flatbread!

  • With grilled skewers of lamb or a shmear on top of a pizza with fontina, delicious! Thanks DL. A big X. Miss you.

  • We didn’t call it jam, but this reminds me of the way my Mom prepared yellow summer squash. She pre-cooked cut up squash in just a little water, to steam it done, then drained it well and roughly mashed. While this was happening, lots of chopped onion was started in a skillet with some oil. Then the drained squash was added to the pan and this was cooked down, seasoned with salt and pepper, until the moisture was gone and the whole mass was a fraction of its original volume, deep yellow-brown, rich and dense. The flavor was intensely squash-y but more; it was beyond delicious, served in small portions, often as part of an all-vegetable meal. We kids could never get enough (squash!), it was so good.

  • The delightful Efendy restaurant in Sydney put on a special dinner last year in which ALL the dishes, including dessert, were made from eggplant. Delicious, fascinating, if a bit overpowering all on one night. Here’s the link to their site, http://efendy.com.au/, full of interesting information about Turkish cooking and the restaurant’s special events. I don’t have any connection with the restaurant, apart from frequent visits, but it’s a good one for Sydney visitors and residents to explore if they’re interested in middle eastern food.

  • Very similar to a Persian version in the first cooking! Just garlic and salt, though (a sephardic recipe).
    I like the idea of cooking it down to a jam.

    Thanks

  • Oh goodness gracious. This is going on toasted sourdough for dinner, with goats cheese and a drizzle of extra pomegranate molasses.

  • I love the idea, but now I just have to wait until its cool enough that I can run my oven for 25 minutes!

  • My mother-in-law makes something similar, but equally delicious. But it’s simply one part tomatoes to one part red peppers. They all get roasted and reduced until sweet and jammy. Must try it with eggplant now, too!

  • Thank you for the amazing recipe !!!
    I once tried a similar one but it did not come out the way I wanted it to taste
    I’ll try yours next time !

  • david, thanks for the fantastic recipe! looking forward to making it. do you think it could be used as a layer on top of cream cheese?
    m

  • Thanks David. I really appreciate the “harissa or hot sauce,” because I still haven’t taken the time to buy harissa, but I have EVERYthing else in my kitchen right now. The eggplants were going to turn into baba ganush (sp?)… I’m excited to try something new! And I totally agree with you, I love having a lavish appetizer spread for dinner. It’s one of my fave things.

  • Joanne: I remember making pizza with you in San Francisco – that was fun, and ..of course, delicious! xx

    bridgit: Harissa is pretty great stuff. You can make it, but the stuff you buy is pretty good and I like keeping it on hand to add to things; a little goes a long, long way-but it’s great to perk up a tomato sauce or just to mix with olives.

    mehrunnisa: I would imagine that mixtures like this get serves with soft, spreadable cheese in North Africa and Middle Eastern countries, although I’ve not been served it that way. But based on the foods I’ve had from those countries, it would likely be a great combo.

    Kalyn: I don’t have a slow cooker so am not sure, but it’s so speedy in a pan, and you can control what you’re doing, that I’m not convinced a slow cooker would be any better or easier.

  • I make something very similar, but hadn’t thought of adding harissa! But with a mild goats’ cheese or other cream cheese (even Madame Loïc!) stirred through it, it makes a wonderful accompaniment to pasta. Am planning on serving it one evening this week.

    Incidentally, we call it aubergine!

  • Southeast Asian restaurants have introduced me to a small, cucumber shaped eggplant which is starchier and sweeter by nature. I should think it would make a wonderful “jam” too.

  • I love eggplant, but it’s the spices in this ‘jam’ that sound especially awesome.

  • Thank you for being my oasis of peace and calm and delight. Whenever I start obsessing over climate change, I come to your website to chill. Thank you!

  • this sounds amazing! I can’t wait to try this when summertime hits Australia!!

  • I just love the smokey quality eggplant takes on after being cooked whole outside on the gas grill. Would that work here? Or would there be too much going on? Bought two nice, fat shiny eggplants yesterday at the Farmer’s Market. Think I’m going to try it.

    Love your blog.

    Maria in L.A.

  • eggplant jam! wow. it did blow my mind for a minute, but now that i think about it, it actually sounds delicious. yum!

  • This looks great. The sweet aubergine thing does make sense, in Sicily they sometimes make caponata using chocolate, and often using sultanas and it is lovely.

  • Eggplant with chocatate as a dessert is an Amalfi coast specialty. Jo Bettoja gives an excellent recipe in her “Southern Italian” book. I couldn’t resist trying it, and everyone loved it.

  • Looks interesting, but I wouldn’t call it a Jam, but a dip or a spread :). In Syria and Lebanon, and many other countries of the middle east, eggplant jam is a real jam, whereby small eggplants are soaked in limestone (calcium carbonate) for few hours or a day, then boiled, then carefully drained, then boiled with sugar syrup, then stuffed or mixed with walnuts. Like any other jam :)

  • When I’m trying cooking with eggplant – it never goes well. But after reading this recipe a give it a try! I’m specially curious about this “, I added a few dribbles of syrupy pomegranate molasses over the top of the jam”.

  • I feel the same way about eggplants as you do about squids! I absolutely cannot have them.
    As far as eggplant jam, we actually have them in Iran and they are made sweet, like some other weird sweet jams such as carrot, cucumber and even walnut peel jam!

  • If you would just call it eggplant spread, or maybe even conserve I’d feel so much better about this. I have tomatoes (lots) now, so I think I’ll make your tomato jam and those rosemary cookies that go with it instead. LOL!

  • I altered this – I think it was better. I fried the eggplant slabs as I found the dry baking left it hard edged and dry. Then I crosscut them so pieces of skin were smaller, added garlic and other spices and kept frying.

    I added a teaspooon of sugar as a flavour accentuater, and to be able to call it jam.

    I also used a lot more spices. Unless your eggplants are really tiny 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and harissa is really nothing – you would not be able to taste it. In the Middle East spices are added in much larger quantities and I probably added a flat teaspoon of each.

    Otherwise – I used the same flavours. Mine was less mashed, more chunky, probably had a bit more oil but tasted stunning.
    It was wonderful.

  • david,

    i appreciate your enthusiasm and inquisitive approach to food but this one is just not a winner. not for me, anyway. and the only dish/recipe in your oeuvre that strikes me in such an unpleasant way. which is a compliment to you. next recipe, please!

    best,

    barknot

  • Yep, I’ll be making this. Looks too good not to!

  • I made this with my CSA bounty, and my friends raved, just as yours did. Thanks!

  • I am on my way to Trader Joe’s to purchase some eggplants. Can’t wait to try your recipe and serve it to my friends with a glass of chilled Rose de Provence. We will toast you!

  • Made this last night and just served with crusty bread. Delicious!! Definitely will be buying some more eggplants at the farmers market this weekend so I can make it again!

  • Thank you for the recipe! Delicious! I used a bit of Allspice to offset the sweet taste of Cinnamon (not my favorite), and Cholula, instead of Harissa which I like, but might be too strong for my friends. I am freezing some of it in a small canning jar as a test, as I would like to always have some on hand. I hope it is sucessful. Everybody enjoyed the jam, and we raised our glasses a votre sante!

  • I love the idea of combining eggplant and pomegranate. Like that harissa is in this recipe too. Nice!!
    LL

  • thanks for the recipe! I made this tonight, upping the amounts of paprika, cumin, and harissa. While I am out of pomegranate molasses, I did have some pomegranate balsamic vinegar and I think it worked out well enough– my husband ate it by the spoonful!

  • Hi David, I really appreciated the recipe and I putted more attention on this because I received a lot of eggplants from a friend’s house and didn’t know what to do with them. Do you know if it’s possible make canning with this recipe? Thank you!

  • Daniela, I came here to ask the very same thing! I’m preparing my list of Christmas gifts, and I have several friends who would love to have this in their pantry. However, will it keep canned? Any ideas on how long?

    This is a gem. Thank you, David.

  • Our grandmother had a recipe like this and it was always a hit. The eggplants growing in my yard are coming in now….better late than never!!
    You mentioned a great garlic-laced pickle recipe….any chance you would want to share that? hint hint!!

  • As the eggplant season was excelent this year in Romania, I already made this four or five times. It is a hit in my family! I will miss it during winter, as I prefer not to buy vegetables that never see the light of sun:-)
    Thank you for sharing it with us.