homemade pickled ginger recipe

pickled ginger

We love sushi in this house. Actually some would say we live off the stuff! When the kids were little living back home in Raglan and being gluten-free the only place we could really ever take them ‘out’ for lunch was to the local sushi shop. They kinda had no choice in the matter; they were just going to have to grow up loving the stuff as much as I do! Lucky they never really put up a fight. From a very young age both the kids could polish off a tofu musubi in two seconds flat and now that they are just that much bigger, in size and in appetites, I’ve got into regularly making sushi for dinner so they can pig out on it without breaking the bank! Ada will happily eat a whole roll (yes, 10 pieces) and Kye eats his fair share too.

Loving sushi really is a blessing in disguise. Not only is it healthy but it’s also a great snack to pick up when out and about and the kids need food, now. There aren’t that many other gluten-free, vegetarian options other than hot chips that you can find so readily available. Whether we are at the markets, in a mall or down at the beach, a sushi shop is always near-by. How cool is that?! Nothing like when I was little, I was in high school when I tried sushi for the first time. Crazy how much times have changed.


Now for me sushi is not sushi without the accompaniments… wasabi, soy sauce and pickled ginger. They take sushi from something simple and plain to something that is all at once hot, salty and spicy. I have just one pet hate and that’s when I’m served fluro pink ginger that looks like it belongs in a lab, not on my food. You can buy the natural pickled ginger, but I find it’s pretty hard to buy in small amounts (for some reason?) and I only ever see it in huge 5kg bags at the Asian grocers. You can also buy the natural stuff at health food stores, but phew they come with hefty price tags. If you’ve been reading for some time you will have noticed that rather than forking out for such things, I rather just make it myself. Especially when it’s as simple as thinly slicing fresh ginger, adding salt then pouring over a mixture of rice vinegar, water and sugar. The only trick is finding really fresh, young ginger. The younger the better, you don’t want too many fibrous strings which are a sure sign it’s old ginger. Be sure to look for plump, mostly unblemished bulbs. If they are wrinkled in anyway, look else where.

The beautiful pale pink colour you see below occurs naturally when the hot vinegar syrup is poured over the salted ginger, just like magic. There’s definitely no need for colourings, what so ever.

pickled ginger

homemade pickled ginger 
Unless you go through large amounts of pickled ginger I suggest you preserve them in small glass jars. This way you can open just a little at a time. My jars were different sizes, but I’d say at a guess it would make 2 or 3 1/2 cup capacity jars. So sterilise more than you think you will need just in case.
makes around 1 1/2 cups.

  • 185g fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 90ml (1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons) rice vinegar
  • 90ml (1/3 cup + 2 teaspoons) water
  • 70g (1/3 cup) unrefined raw sugar

Peel the ginger either using a vegetable peeler or the back of a teaspoon, scraping the skin off. Slice the ginger into thin slices using a vegetable peeler (again) or a mandolin. Place into a bowl with the salt. Use your hands to thoroughly mix the two. Set aside for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile place 1-2 small clean glass jars into preheated oven at 120 C/250 F for 20 minutes. Turn off oven and leave jars in there until required. To sterilise lids, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water, leave for 5 minutes before draining. Use your hands to squeeze out as much liquid from the ginger as you can before transferring to the sterlised jars, packing it in lightly and filling each jar to the top.

Heat rice vinegar, water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and pour over ginger, right up to the rim of the jar. Screw on lid and leave to cool, then store in the refrigerator. Leave at least 24 hours for the flavours to develop before eating. Once opened use within 2 weeks. 

This recipe has been linked to:
Slightly indulgent Tuesdays @ simply sugar & gluten-free

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  • The KitchenMaid
    October 13, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Oh Emma, I have ALWAYS wanted to do this, I love pickled ginger (even the lurid pink stuff) and could probably happily eat a whole jar. Now I can! Thanks so much!

  • emma
    October 13, 2011 at 11:48 am

    You're welcome Lucy 🙂 Happy eating!

  • Leonie
    October 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Oh thank you for this recipe! we love sushi in our house and eat lots of it. I love ginger but cringe reading what is in the store bought stuff.
    Sushi is my number one food for eating out but with three children we dont have it out very often. Last time I made it at home my son ate 14 pieces!!

  • emma
    October 13, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Ha yes it can get very expensive to eat out once your kids eat more than a few pieces. That's why I started making it at home at least once a week 🙂 14 pieces, wow! Ada's done 12 and still wanted more but I stopped her, thinking she might pop! Amazing how much sushi little kids can pack away isn't it?

  • Anonymous
    October 13, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    "the lurid pink stuff" comes from the shiso leaves
    The Japanese name for perilla is Shiso it is in the mint family

  • gluten free gift
    October 13, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    What a great project for my new mandolin slicer! I am such a ginger addict that I am often found wandering with a stub of it in my purse. Not kidding. I don't like buying "pickled" anything off the shelf typically… this is AWESOME – thanks so much! Claudine

  • emma
    October 14, 2011 at 2:46 am

    Ah yes I know there are naturally coloured ones out there, umeboshi plum juice is another one that's used to give it a stronger pink colour. However take a little look at the ingredients in 99% of the store-bought ones and you will see un-natural colourings and preservatives. Yuk.

  • Janet NZ
    October 14, 2011 at 6:20 am

    What a GREAT idea. We love sushi and like you NEED all the extras.
    The home-made ginger looks much prettier that the highly coloured stuff.
    Thanks Em XO

  • the good soup
    October 14, 2011 at 7:26 am

    I've been meaning to make pickled ginger for ages. And actually, you've just inspired me to add it to my list of preserves to cook for my first cooking classes in November. As long as my experiments turn out well in the meantime! Thanks Emm. x

  • Anna
    October 14, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Will it taste and look the same if I use the more yellowish-turmeric variant? Thanks!

  • emma
    October 14, 2011 at 8:04 am

    Hi Anna,
    I don't really understand your question? Are you talking about turmeric root? Or galangal? If it's more yellow in colour raw I'd say the end result would be more yellow in colour too? Not really sure, try it out!

  • Jennifer (Delicieux)
    October 14, 2011 at 10:26 am

    What a fantastic idea!!! I love pickled ginger (pickled anything really). Storing it in little jars is a great idea too.

  • Hannah
    October 14, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    This is perfect! I love pickled ginger and always prefer something homemade. My boys love sushi, too, and have since they were little. Such a great kid snack. Now, they eat more than my husband and me! Not great for the wallet at restaurants… 🙂

    Also, I have an award for you at http://www.bluekaleroad.com/2011/10/chocolate-pumpkin-cake-and-awards.html

    A happy weekend to you!

  • The InTolerant Chef
    October 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    I so love sushi too! Yesterday I even saw sushi themed Christmas ornaments at a department store! Thanks for this recipe, I will be giving a try for sure. I also have some wasabi plants on order so I can make some nice fresh non-fluro paste as well as I hate the artificial colours like you too.

  • calicoanne
    October 14, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    awesome! can't wait to try this! mm mm

  • Jamara
    October 16, 2011 at 7:32 am

    Emma you gem!
    Last time my lil Louie was at the grandparents they fed him up on pickled ginger, because he loves it so, unfortunately not the nice stuff and his lips swelled like a bad botox job.
    I suspect MSG was what caused the reaction.

  • meg
    October 16, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Thanks Emma. So pleased to rediscover your lovely blog. x

  • hungryandfrozen
    October 16, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    That is so great that your kids love sushi, and you're right, it really is everywhere these days.

    Love that you did this homemade – and love that the ginger turns pink on its own! Would be a great gift for a sushi fiend, methinks.

    Am so lazy with preserving stuff properly, but thanks for the heads-up all the same 😛

  • fountainheadinc
    October 18, 2011 at 6:58 am

    yummy Emma! only one place way over in Cambridge has good ginger [well, it's not bright pink!]…you rule!

  • Georgia
    October 19, 2011 at 12:10 am

    I can never get enough of this stuff when we go out to have sushi and it hadn't even occurred to me to make it at home! Thank you for the recipe!

  • bunnyeatsdesign
    October 25, 2011 at 3:23 am

    I grew up with sushi as a kid. We ate a lot of it and without hesitate. It wasn't until I reached primary school in the early 90's that I found out from other kids that I wasn't supposed to like sushi. Oops. Too late.

    While I adore ginger, ginger with sushi for me isn't always a necessity and I guess I subconsciously loathe the flouro stuff. I do like the idea of making it yourself though.

  • Anonymous
    March 26, 2012 at 1:58 am

    I really appreciate your information. I love ginger and would like to make it fresh. My only question is how many cups per 185 grams of ginger?
    Thank you,

    • emma
      March 26, 2012 at 11:17 am

      Hmmm, hard to say as I don't have any ginger in front of me, but as this recipe made around 1 1/2 cups of pickled ginger at a guess the raw ginger needed is about the same.

  • mmchelle
    August 4, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    since you;ve mentioned that your kids cant take gluten, do you have any idea if the pink pickled gingers are gluten free? i've been seraching for information online but i'm not very successful. if they are, (or arent), i'm still going to buy ginger and give your recipe a go!

    • emma
      August 5, 2013 at 12:15 am

      Hey there, I haven't bought pickled ginger since I started making my own a couple of years ago… but off the top of my head I'm pretty sure most brands should be gf. I'd double check the ingredients though to be sure. I'd totally recommend making your own though! xx