Begin by cutting the eggplants into 1/4-inch thick slices and cut each slice into 1/4-inch thick strips. Place the eggplant strips in a colander and sprinkle with coarse salt. Place a plate on top of the eggplant, place the colander in the sink, place a few heavy cans on top of the plate, and leave the eggplant to drain for 1 hour. Using your hands, squeeze the eggplant to remove as much of the bitter juices as possible. In a large pot, combine the eggplant, water, and 1 cup vinegar, and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, remove from heat, set aside, and allow the eggplant to cool in the liquid. Using your hands, squeeze the eggplant to remove as much of the cooking liquid as possible. Transfer the eggplant to a bowl. Add the herbs, garlic, and pepper flakes, and toss gently. Add the remaining vinegar and olive oil, and toss gently to combine.
Sterilize four 8 oz. jars and their lids by boiling them in a large pot of water for 15 minutes. Using tongs, remove the jars and lids from the water and place on a dry surface. Evenly divide the eggplant mixture among the four jars. Pour extra olive oil on top to ensure that they are thoroughly immersed. Wipe clean the rims of the jars and seal with their lids. Label and date the jars. Place the jars in the refrigerator and allow to marinate for several weeks before using. Store in the refrigerator and add additional olive oil to the jar after each use as needed. Serve as part of an antipasto platter, add to salads or sandwiches, or on bread.
Yield: Four 8 oz. jars
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