Why is making your own pickled ginger more healthy?
Everyone has seen the thin pink ginger slices at a sushi restaurant. Bright glow-in-the-dark pink? This pickled ginger is called gari in Japanese and is usually eaten after sushi or sashimi to enhance the flavor and cleanse the palette. Ginger generally aids digestion, eases nausea and reduces inflammation.
What makes pickled ginger so pink? Most likely it’s artificial coloring (E124) added to the gari to make it look more attractive. Beet juice is more rarely also used to make the pickled ginger more pink.
Why bother making the ginger look pink? Very young ginger of a good quality will turn slightly pink when marinated in a sweetened vinegar solution. More mature ginger usually will not turn pink (or very pink). Sushi restaurants therefore seek pink ginger to show their guests that their ginger is young and of good quality. Yet, if the pink comes from artificial coloring such as E124 instead of from the ginger’s intrinsic characteristics, it really does not make sense to purchase pink pickled ginger.
Pickled ginger can be found in plastic packages or glass jars in specialty grocers for a fairly reasonable price. However, you can make your own pickled ginger in minutes (if in a rush like I usually am) or in a couple days (if you plan ahead). The only ingredients that you should find in your pickled ginger are: ginger, rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Four ingredients! If you see more than 4 ingredients, make your own to ensure the quality of the gari that you serve your guests.
Try the recipe below for both the rushed method and the traditional method. Next time you are preparing sushi make your own pickled ginger. You will not be sorry, I promise! It’ll take you only a few minutes yet will add an appreciated touch. Pickled ginger can be stored in sterilized jars (with the liquid you used to marinate the ginger) in the refrigerator for at least a couple weeks. I’ve even kept it much longer.