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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Does salting eggplant add sodium to recipes?

Since I have high blood pressure one of my major concerns is salt content. Some recipes (like eggplant parmesan) call for salting items like eggplant, zucchini, and cucumber to either cut down on bitterness or excess water.

I have usually skipped the salting because I am concerned that it significantly increases the sodium content of the recipe, even if the salt is rinsed off the vegetable after the soaking. Does covering the vegetables in salt result in significant absorption of sodium? If it does, are there alternative methods that will achieve the same goals?

Dr. Gourmet Says...


I almost never salt eggplant (or other vegetables, for that matter) in the way you describe.

There are two reasons that I've most often seen for salting eggplant. One is to remove moisture and the other bitterness.

My experience is that moisture is fine for eggplant and helps keep it tender. The eggplant grown today has had the bitterness bred out of it. I have only found eggplant to be bitter when it is not fresh, so the key is to use only very fresh eggplant.

In choosing eggplant, make sure that the skin is smooth and shiny. As eggplant ages, the skin will develop small pits. Leave eggplants with pits and any that have wrinkled skin in the produce bin.

The other key to the best tasting eggplant is to choose smaller ones - those under a pound each.

Here's more information on eggplant to help you choose the best eggplant for your recipes.

Thanks for writing.

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP
Dr. Gourmet