Old Friends Farm in Amherst has grown ginger for the last couple of years, selling it at the Amherst Farmer’s Market. I usually buy a couple of hands worth and stick it in the freezer in a ziplock baggie. I grate it directly–the skin is thin enough not to matter. But we’ve run out of pickled ginger for sushi, so this year, I decided to buy and pickle a lot of it.
Young ginger is what is usually recommended for pickling. The skin is thinner, the roots aren’t as fiberous and the flavor is better. Also, it naturally makes the pink color of pickled sushi–no need for artificial coloring. The recipe I use for pickled ginger is based on the one from the China Moon Cookbook by Barbara Tropp, a cookbook everyone should own and, more importantly, use. Tropp used the juice in salad dressings and other sauces, so her original recipe makes a lot of juice in relation to the ginger slices.
The instructions say you can use a mandoline on the ginger, but perhaps mine is not sharp enough. It tends to shred the ginger and makes a lot of fibers. A sharp chef’s knife and some care work a lot better. Tropp says to use a spoon to scrape the skin off the ginger and that works better than anything. The skin comes right off and except for a few nooks and crannies, you don’t need a knife at all. I cut the slices until the pieces were too small to hold. These pieces I saved and froze for the recipes that require “a knob of fresh ginger.”
I bought four hands of ginger which made about 3/4 of a quart of pickled ginger. The recipe below should fill a quart canning jar. (I have always called the pieces “hands.” I’ve seen a couple of references to hands elsewhere, but if it offends you, they are simply pieces.)
Correction on the sugar–after 3 days tasting, I doubled it. Much better.
6 large hands of ginger
2 cups unseasoned rice wine vinegar
6 12 TBS sugar (raw preferred)
2 TBS salt – kosher or sea salt
Peel the ginger by scraping it with a spoon. Slice it into strips as thinly as you can. Add the ginger to a clean quart jar. Cover with boiling water and let sit for 2 minutes. Drain the water.
Bring the vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small glass or non-reactive (stainless steel) pot, stirring occaisionally. As soon as it boils and the solids are dissolved , take it off the heat and pour over the ginger in the jar. Let the mixture cool, cover it, and store in the refrigerator. It is usable after one day and it will last forever.