It is so very easy to make gari, Japanese pickled ginger, at home! Take young ginger roots. Peel gently. Slice thin. Wash in brine. Dry. Pickle in sugar and rice vinegar. How can you spoil it?

I guess you just have to be me.

I scoured two markets and the only fresh ginger I could get is fairly old. As a result it is fibrous, and won’t slice thin. Unless you have the tempered steel blades that samurai and Saladin used (by all accounts, one of the major metallurgical exports from medieval India). So I chopped the root into thick chunks before washing it in brine.

I have given up using sugar in food a few years ago. The Family showed me the coarse brown sugar that she uses sometimes. We don’t have rice vinegar at home, and I already used the best vinegar for other pickling. So it was coarse bits of ginger in pretty harsh vinegar and brown sugar.

After a day I was surprised to find that the ginger had turned the subtle pink colour of real gari. Maybe the brown sugar was responsible for the colour change. It would have tasted better sliced thin. The flavour was good on the tongue, but when I bit into the chunk I still got the spiciness of uncured ginger.

By making all the mistakes that one can, I have now understood the recipe. I’m happy it didn’t involve expensive ingredients.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


  1. I always wondered why the Ginger I got at the grocery store was so fibrous, now I know, thanks to you. Is there an easy way to tell what young Ginger looks like? Besides buying it and trying to cut into it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. On young ginger the skin can be peeled off with the fingernails. After a couple of times doing this you can see the difference in the skin. Also, the smell is slightly different. I’m told that really young ginger has pink tips, but I’ve never seen that. So I don’t know whether that depends on the variety or I just haven’t seen something that young.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. My aunt just made some ginger pickle today and it’s out in the sun (one of those rare sunny days here), it’s the Indian style with whole chopped red chilies and vinegar. Didn’t know about Gari, new learning!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kind of late comment, sorry, but just in case you are still interested in seeing how young ginger looks like, I have a few posts on homegrown ginger and recipes, including for gari, in my blog roll from 2018 (just use my search box for ‘ginger’). A tip I gave if working with more mature fresh ginger, is to use a grater’s coarsest grind side to slice the ginger, along the fibre direction, and to boil the ginger for 3-4 minutes to soften and remove harsh flavour. It’s interesting you still got a pink tint in your gari.

    Liked by 1 person

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