Raw Eggplant Bacon

I’ve never really eaten bacon often enough to be any kind of expert, but one thing I can tell you for sure – this raw eggplant bacon is delicious!

Raw eggplant bacon

To be honest, I’m not even sure why I felt the need to make a raw vegan substitute for bacon, but I’m really glad that I did.

I think a part of me just liked the idea of doing something so creative and, according to all the people who’ve made it before me, so tasty.

I love the idea that you can take a seemingly unrelated collection of ingredients, and produce something that tastes so darn good.

I mean, turning eggplant into bacon? That’s just ridiculous. And I like a challenge.

Making raw eggplant bacon

I also got to use my fancy slicing kitchen gadget (aka my mandolin) to make the super thin slices of eggplant, and who doesn’t like a good excuse to crack out a kitchen gadget?

And although I only used one eggplant, slicing it so thin made it go a long, long way.

We had eggplant bacon coming out of our sandwiches for weeks, so we found along the way that it keeps really well too.

Flax crackers with cheese, tomato and raw eggplant bacon

I’ve made a few different “dried veggie chips” recipes, without a great deal of success. I just don’t think dehydrated sweet potato does it for me.

And although this is called bacon, let’s be honest, it really is a fantastically flavoured eggplant chip.

That you can use in place of bacon, if you like.

So that would make this raw eggplant bacon my first successful dehydrated veggie chip. Yay! I like successful experiments.

Raw eggplant bacon

Mmmmm, so crisp and crunchy and packed with flavour.

And it even looks like bacon, at least a little bit anyway, don’t you think?

Isn’t it simply amazing what you can make with raw vegan food! I never cease to be amazed.

And we also discovered that it makes awesome raw bacon rolls.

Spread some cashew cheese on a slice, add some avocado, tomato and capsicum, roll it up and there you go.

Genuine raw vegan bacon hors d’oeuvres.

Perfect!

Raw eggplant bacon roll

We also ate it on flax crackers, in sandwiches, crumbled into salads and rice dishes, and straight from the container.

And it still lasted for ages. The snack that just keeps on giving.

Raw eggplant bacon slices

So, are you ready to taste some of this amazing raw eggplant bacon?

Here’s my version of Choosing Raw’s eggplant bacon.

Raw Eggplant Bacon
Source: 
Diets: Raw, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free
Makes: 30 serves
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large eggplant (aubergine), thinly sliced (lengthways)
  • 1½ tbsp (30ml) tamari
  • 1½ tbsp (30ml) maple syrup or agave nectar
  • 1½ tbsp (30ml) apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ tbsp (30ml) olive oil
  • 1 tsp Botanical Cuisine's mushroom & pepperberry sauce
  • ¼ tsp paprika
  • ⅛ tsp chilli powder
  • pinch black pepper
Method
  1. Slice the eggplant thinly lengthways, using a mandolin or a sharp knife.
  2. Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl, and add eggplant slices one a time, making sure to coat each slice thoroughly.
  3. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 1-2 hours.
  4. Spread eggplant slices on a dehydrator tray and dry for 12+ hours until crispy.
Preparation
Before: -
During: 20 mins
After: 1 hour marinating + 12-24 hours drying
Need: Mandolin slicer (optional), dehydrator
Nutrition Information
Calories: 20 (per serve)

Tips

  • You don’t have to use a mandolin to slice your eggplant (aubergine), but it does make life a bit easier. If you’re going to use a knife, chop your eggplant in half (either way), so there’s flat surface for it to rest on safely while you slice it up.
  • You can choose how thick or thin to slice your eggplant. Anything from 1/4 inch (6mm) down to 1/12 inch (2mm) should work well. The thicker it is, the longer it will take to dry, and the lower the flavour-to-eggplant ratio (or in other words, thicker slices means more eggplant and less flavour).
  • Maple syrup is not raw, but it does add a nice depth of flavour to this dish. You can always use agave nectar instead if you want to be completely raw.
  • The best olive oil to use is organic cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil.
  • I substituted Botanical Cuisine’s Mushroom and Pepperberry Sauce for the liquid smoke in the original recipe, for two reasons. Firstly, when I looked into liquid smoke, I discovered that it’s basically a blend of chemicals produced by capturing the smoke from burning wood chips, and I decided I wasn’t that keen to eat it. Secondly, the pepperberry sauce tastes AWESOME, so get a hold of some if you can. Of course, if you can’t get any, and you’re happy to use liquid smoke, I understand that it does gives the bacon a very authentic smoky taste. Just use 3-5 drops in your marinade in place of the pepperberry sauce. You could also try something like this Mushroom Truffle and Olive mix from Amazon, which looks quite similar.
  • I reduced the amount of chili from the original recipe, because Paul and I are not big fans of super hot food. So if you like your food spicy, you can add the original 1 tsp of chili powder. We think ours came out perfectly exactly as it was.
  • Once your raw eggplant bacon is dried to perfection, store it in an airtight container at room temperature. The more completely dried it is, the longer it will keep. And if your eggplant is exposed to the air for any extended period, it may lose its crunch. This is good if you want to make raw bacon rolls, but otherwise you can always crisp it back up in the dehydrator.

My inspiration

I saw a mention of “raw eggplant bacon” on a website somewhere (so long ago now that I can’t remember where), and the idea intrigued me. So many people raved about how awesome it was that it just seemed like something I had to try, even though I was never a big bacon fan.

So I went searching for recipes, and found three or four that I liked the look of. I finally settled on a recipe from Gena at Choosing Raw as my starting point. Her raw vegan eggplant bacon was the perfect balance of ingredients and simplicity. I swapped the liquid smoke and the smoked paprika for Mushroom & Pepperberry Sauce and regular paprika, and significantly toned down the chili powder. I also sliced my eggplant super thin, which meant that it dried a bit faster and I ended up with HEAPS of crunchy, flavour-packed strips of raw eggplant bacon.

I must say that the Mushroom & Pepperberry Sauce was an inspired substitution, and one I highly recommend if you’re lucky enough to have access to Botanical Cuisine’s amazing products. I loved our raw eggplant bacon from the first piece down to the very last snack.

I hope you enjoy it too.

Have an awesome day!

~ Nikki, Eating Vibrantly

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What others are saying...

    • Nikki says

      Hi Sarojini,

      I did see a few recipes around for coconut bacon, but I haven’t yet mastered the art of fresh coconut (it still makes me nervous for some reason LOL), so I love your version with coconut flakes. I might just be able to handle that, and it sounds delicious.

  1. nowpearl says

    Hi,

    I tried to dehydrate eggplant slices after marinating, but the slices shrunk to not even 1/3 their original size. They became the size of french fries. Not very filling.

    Do you know what I did wrong? I used a random amount of oil, salt, red pepper, and garlic powder.

    Thanks

    • Nikki says

      Hi,

      Honestly I don’t, because there are so many variables. I used Teflex sheets with mine, so they kind of stuck to that and couldn’t really shrink. They certainly went very thin, but they stayed about the same size as the original slice. Maybe if you had them on a mesh tray they would shrink more?

      And even when mine were done, they weren’t filling either – more just a tasty garnish for a sandwich or a snack. The eggplant is more of a flavour carrier than a meal in itself.

      Hope this helps.

      • nowpearl says

        Thanks. I used parchment paper and dehydrated for 12-15 hours. The eggplant slices were chewy and they shrunk considerably, maybe because I used a lot of oil and because they didn’t stick to the paper as you mentioned. A bit disappointing, I wanted the feel of decent-size, crisp chips.
        I don’t want to use teflex, because I think it’s made of teflon.

        This helps a lot, got my mind thinking! Thanks.

    • Nikki says

      Hi Julie,

      I’ve never actually used my oven to dehydrate my recipes, so I can’t speak from experience, but there are lots of people who say it works well.

      Generally it involves setting your oven to the lowest temperature possible, and cooking your food until it looks and tastes done. Of course, it mostly likely won’t stay under 40°, but if the alternative is eating less healthy food, then I’m all for it.

      Sometimes the flavours can change when raw food recipes are cooked, so just be aware of this possibility, and adjust the recipe next time if need be.

      Some people even recommend wedging the oven door open to lower the temperature even further, but I have small kids and pets and wouldn’t want them accidentally burning themselves, so I was never really comfortable with the idea.

      Here are some links that explain a few different ways you can dehydrate things without a dehydrator, including using your oven:
      How to Dehydrate Raw Food Without a Dehydrator @ Real Foods Witch
      How to Dehydrate Without a Dehydrator @ Farmers Market Vegan

      Hope this helps!

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