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Pickled ginger adds an irresistible sweet and spicy taste to any meal—and now you can make it at home! Yes, you already love it as a condiment for sushi, but it’s also excellent for adding zip and pep to stir-fries and meal bowls.

a glass jar of pickled ginger, with slices of ginger on a white board.
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If you ask for extra pickled ginger when you get sushi, I have good news for you: you can make a whole jar of it at home! 

While pickled ginger, or gari, is typically served alongside sushi as a palate cleanser between bites, its tangy-sweet flavor makes it a tasty addition to so many dishes.

You only need four ingredients and 10 minutes to make this quick pickled ginger recipe. If you’ve made my refrigerator pickled beets, pickled carrots, mixed pickled vegetables, pickled cauliflower, pickled radishes, pickled shallots, and dilly beans, the process is very similar.

Ingredients

Rice vinegar, sugar, salt, and young ginger on a grey board.

This recipe has:

  • Ginger – Peel it first, then slice it thinly. A paring or chef’s knife is a nice size for accomplishing this, or use a mandoline slicer (what I used) for more uniform slices. I like slicing on a bias for larger pieces rather than slicing rounds, but you can do it however you like!
  • Table salt
  • Rice vinegar – Be sure to use unseasoned rice vinegar, not seasoned. (Seasoned rice vinegar is sweetened.)
  • White sugar

Step By Step Instructions

*I’ll walk you through it here with some photos and tips, and you’ll also find a printable recipe card at the bottom of the post with exact measurements, etc. You can also click “jump to recipe” to skip down.

Peel and cut the ginger as thinly as you possibly can. Pro tip: if you freeze the whole peeled ginger root for ~20 minutes, it will be easier to cut into thin slices.

Toss together the ginger and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Let this sit for 30-60 minutes.

Transfer the salted ginger to a colander. Give the ginger a quick rinse; you only want to remove about half of the salt, not all of it. 

two photos showing the process of salting and rinsing sliced ginger.

Now, start the brine. In a small saucepan, combine the rice vinegar and sugar and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the ginger to soften. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pro tip: if you’re not able to cut paper-thin slices of ginger, I would cook it in the brine for at least 6 minutes. Allow a slice to cool a bit and then try it to see if the texture is soft enough.

a saucepan of gari.

Carefully pour the vinegar and ginger into a jar. Cover loosely with a lid while the mixture cools to room temperature, then tighten the lid and refrigerate.

HOW TO STORE

Refrigerate the ginger in a tightly closed jar for 3-4 weeks.

Remember, refrigerator quick pickles are not the same as traditional pickles, which go through the canning process and are shelf-stable. Pickled ginger needs to be refrigerated!

How does pickled ginger turn pink?

Only young ginger will turn pink like the ginger at your favorite sushi restaurant. Most traditional grocery store ginger is mature and will stay white/beige. You can usually find young ginger at well-stocked international markets.

If you can track down young ginger, take it from me, it’s sooooo much easier to peel!

A hunk of young/mature ginger on the left, with mature ginger on the right.

If you’re using mature ginger, the end flavor will be the same, but you can color it pink if you’d like. Add a red cabbage leaf or a slice of beet to the vinegar mixture while it cooks. Or, use 1-2 drops of pink or red food coloring.

What do you do with Pickled Ginger?

Pro tips/recipe notes

  • To peel the skin from the ginger, you can use either a vegetable peeler or a spoon. I prefer a vegetable peeler for the larger smoother parts, and then I clean up around the nooks and crannies with a spoon.
  • This recipe has a balanced sweet and salty flavor, but if you need to tame the bite of fresh ginger, you can increase the sugar a bit.
  • You can add another vegetable to the jar if you’d like and infuse it with gingery flavor. Slices of English or Persian cucumbers are especially delicious!
a fork holding a few pieces of gari above a glass jar.
5 from 1 rating

Easy Pickled Ginger

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
a glass jar of pickled ginger, with slices of ginger on a white board.
Pickled ginger adds an irresistible sweet and spicy taste to any meal—and now you can make it at home! Yes, you already love it as a condiment for sushi, but it's also excellent for adding zip and pep to stir-fries, meal bowls, and even cocktails.

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups ginger, peeled and sliced {~1.5 pounds}
  • 2 tsp table salt
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar

Instructions 

  • Peel and carefully slice ginger into the thinnest slices possible. A mandoline slicer is ideal, or a sharp paring or chef's knife.
    2 cups ginger, peeled and sliced
  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine ginger and salt. Toss to combine and let sit for 30-60 minutes.
    2 tsp table salt
  • In a colander, briefly rinse ~50% of the salt from the ginger.
  • In a small saucepan combine rice vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Stir, cooking until the sugar has dissolved.
    1 cup rice vinegar, 1/3 cup white sugar
  • Reduce the temp to medium and add the ginger to the hot vinegar. Stir occasionally, cooking for 5 minutes.
  • Carefully pour the hot vinegar and ginger into a jar. Place a lid loosely on the jar.
  • Let the ginger cool to room temperature, and then tighten the lid.
  • Store the ginger in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.

Notes

  1. Only young ginger will turn pink like the ginger at your favorite sushi restaurant. Most traditional grocery store ginger is mature and will stay white/beige. You can usually find young ginger at well-stocked international markets.
    1. You can color mature ginger pink if you’d like. Add a red cabbage leaf or a slice of beet to the vinegar mixture while it cooks. Or, use 1-2 drops of pink or red food coloring.
  2. If you freeze whole peeled ginger root for ~20 minutes, it will be easier to cut into thin slices.
  3. Be sure to use unseasoned rice vinegar, not seasoned.
  4. If you’re not able to cut paper-thin slices of ginger, cook it in the brine for at least 6 minutes. Allow a slice to cool a bit and then try it to see if the texture is soft enough.
  5. Refrigerate the ginger in a tightly closed jar for 3-4 weeks.

Nutrition

Serving: 1tbspCalories: 14kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 0.1gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.01gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.01gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.01gSodium: 146mgPotassium: 25mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 2gVitamin C: 0.3mgCalcium: 2mgIron: 0.04mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Condiments
Cuisine: Fusion, Japanese
Tried this recipe?Mention @sustainablecooks or tag #sustainablecooks!

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About Sarah

Helping you serve up budget-friendly sustainable recipes with a side of balanced living.
Come for the food. Stay for the snark.

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2 Comments

  1. Great idea, the most readily available pickled ginger here in Aberdeen (Scotland) have sweeteners in them which I don’t like. Not sure I can eat a whole jar in 4 weeks though, so will have to reduce the quantities.5 stars

    1. Hi Mhairi, I can’t wait to hear what you think about it! In the printable recipe card, next to the photo, you’ll see a little section that says “servings”. If you hover over it, a slider will come up and you can adjust the number of servings to reduce the recipe to best fit your needs.