A very funny thing happened to me about a week ago (my Asian friends will laugh their socks off now!). I went to my Asian grocery shop, took some shiso, some lemongrass, sweet thai basil and – at least that is what I thought I took – a package of galangal. When I came back home I looked closely at my galangal and it seemed a bit different… Then I read on the label it was actually young ginger. You might think I was angry, disappointed or both, but not at all! Not only was I happy to have young ginger, but actually instantly knew what to do with it.
As a notorious preserver and pickler I repeat my favourite recipes year by year, but also constantly look for new ideas, so when I saw Pickled Ginger in Street Café. Japan by Emi Kazuko, I made it straight away. The recipe called for fresh ginger and I didn’t understand at first that “fresh” meant young, cream-coloured bulbs without the hard brown skin. Needless to say, my experiment with “standard” ginger was a bit disappointing and when I finally realised after some web research what the problem was, I assumed I will never be able to make this delicious pickle at home because I had never seen young ginger anywhere in my city. Imagine my joy when only after a couple of weeks I realised I was actually able to buy it in my favourite Asian grocery shop!
I have slightly modified the original recipe . Moreover, apart from the short-term, “fridge” pickled ginger (will keep up to three months apparently), I have also prepared a second batch of long-term, Western-style processed pickles (the only difference is that I processed the jars in boiling water). I will be updating this post to report about the changes (if there are any) throughout the year. The pickling liquid in both jars has taken on a slightly pink hue (alas the ginger colour hasn’t almost changed at all, maybe because I used cider vinegar) and the fridge version turned up exactly as I wanted it to be: refreshing, slightly crunchy, but still soft, not too sweet and without the “soapy” aftertaste I sometimes find in store-bought pickled ginger. It wasn’t as soft as the store bought pickled ginger, but it didn’t really bother me. Apparently young ginger is in season until the end of summer, so I hope I can prepare more of these pickles.
UPDATE: After several months the long-term pickled ginger (processed in boiling water and stored in my pantry) tastes even better!
TIP: If you plan long-term pickles, change slightly the amounts and do not add water (see the ingredients’ list below)
Special equipment: a mandolin to slice the ginger
Preparation: 40 – 50 minutes + at least 24 hours before tasting
Ingredients (yields at least 1 x 300 ml/ 10 oz jar; if you prepare long-term pickles, prepare 1 more small jar just in case):
150 g fresh, young ginger, peeled
2 tablespoons sea salt
125 ml (1/2 cup) rice vinegar (I have used 4,5 % cider vinegar, simply because I have several bottles in stock; use 250 ml/1 cup vinegar if you prepare long-term pickles)
60 ml (about 1/4 cup) water (for long-term pickles I have skipped water)
60 ml (about 1/4 cup) white sugar (for long-term pickles I used 90 ml/ about 0,4 cup sugar)
1 teaspoon salt
Cut up the ginger into knobs and then, using a mandolin, cut each knob lengthwise into paper-thin slices (lengthwise direction is very important!).
Rub the ginger with salt and put aside for 3 hours (the ginger will soften).
Rinse the ginger, pat dry and put into a jar.
Bring to boil the vinegar, the sugar, the salt and the water, if you prepare short-term pickles.
Pour the hot (not boiling) mixture over the ginger, close the jar.
Leave it to cool down and then refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
It can stay in the fridge for three months.
If you prepare long-term pickles, place the cooled jars into a big pan, bottom lined with an old kitchen towel folded in two (this will prevent the jars from breaking), cover up with hot – but not boiling- water to the level just below the lid. Bring to boil and keep on a very low heat, in simmering water, for around 15 minutes.
Stick on self-adhesive labels, write the name of the pickle and don’t forget to mark the date.
These will keep for at least a year in your pantry. I will update this post saying if the ginger taste changes.
NOTE (concerns only the long-term pickles): For the readers who live in the USA, the USDA-approved canning method is different. You can find it described here: http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/publications/uga/using_bw_canners.html