Pickled ginger or gari in Japanese, also known as sushi ginger, is a sweet-spicy pickled vegetable usually served as an accompaniment to sushi or sashimi. The specific flavor profile of pickled ginger brings out and enhances the flavor of sushi and sashimi.
Ginger also acts as a palate cleanser so one is able to distinguish and enjoy the different flavors of the meal. Aside from this, it also aids in digestion and has a lot of other medicinal properties.
Pickled ginger has been enjoyed in Japan for a long time. Although its initial purpose was to fight off any contamination that may be found in raw food, its sweet-spicy flavor has come to be loved by many, and thus it has also been enjoyed as an accompaniment to many other different types of cooked food.
Pickled ginger, with its unique taste, is enjoyed on many tables all over the world.
Pickling is also a way to preserve vegetables to make them last longer, so in the days of pre-refrigeration, pickled ginger would be advantageous to keep vs fresh vegetables.
Nowadays we have our trusty refrigerators to preserve our food but one interesting question we might ask is, do we still need to refrigerate our pickled stuff?
Does pickled ginger need to be refrigerated?
Does Pickled Ginger Need to Be Refrigerated?
Pickled ginger is best stored in the fridge to preserve quality and freshness for a longer time. Store-bought, unopened pickled ginger will likely be okay in a cool place in your pantry for a short time but once opened, it should be refrigerated. Homemade pickled ginger should be stored in the fridge.
What is Pickled Ginger?
Pickled ginger is basically young ginger that is preserved and pickled in a brine of rice vinegar, sugar, and salt.
It is used in traditional Japanese cuisine as an accompaniment to sushi and other raw food, initially to fight off any bacteria that may be present in raw food, but it has since come a long way from that. It is widely enjoyed as a side and accompaniment to many other cooked dishes.
Ginger also acts as a palate cleanser in between courses of food, allowing you to enjoy the many different flavors of the meal.
Traditional pickled ginger has a pink hue, which is due to the pinkish stems of the young ginger reacting with the pickling solution. Contrary to what you might think, pickled ginger is not made from pink ginger but from young ginger, whose stems have a pinkish hue. Pink ginger is mostly used for ornamental purposes.
Some commercially made pickled ginger has resorted to additives to achieve this traditional pink hue, although others, especially homemade ones using older ginger, have stuck to the natural, golden color of ginger. Both kinds are equally good and share the same health benefits.
Pickled ginger can easily be found in stores, but it is also simple to make at home.
How is Pickled Ginger Made?
Pickled ginger is basically made from just 4 ingredients: ginger, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt and follows very easy steps. An easy recipe can be found here.
Step 1: Ginger is prepared
Thinly sliced ginger is dehydrated with salt and set aside for about half an hour.
This is done for two reasons. First, so that it will be able to absorb the pickling solution better. Second, so that it will tame the spiciness of the ginger.
Especially if you are using older, more mature ginger, this step will be important in neutralizing some of the spiciness. After salting, some recipes also call for blanching the ginger, again to remove some of the spiciness.
Step 2: Filling the Glass Jars
After dehydrating or after blanched ginger is completely cool, slices are squeezed to remove excess moisture, and placed inside a sterilized jar with a lid. A mason jar works perfectly for this.
Step 3: Prepare the pickling solution
The pickling solution is made by combining the rice vinegar, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Once most of the vinegar smell has evaporated and the sugar has dissolved, this is poured over the ginger slices in the jar.
It is important that all the ginger slices are completely covered in the pickling solution. The jar is covered and cooled completely before it is stored in the fridge.
Step 4: Allow to Pickle for a few days for better flavor
This part is perhaps the hardest part – the waiting. It can technically be enjoyed at this point but waiting for at least 48 hours before consuming leads to better flavor and texture.
As we can see above, pickled ginger is not difficult to make, and as long as we follow safe pickling guidelines, it’s something we can safely make at home.
Does Pickled Ginger Need to Be Refrigerated?
Pickled ginger is best stored in the fridge to preserve quality and freshness for a long period of time.
Store-bought bottles of pickled ginger that are sealed and unopened may be safe to store in a cool place at room temperature for a short period of time (unless the manufacturer says to refrigerate), but I recommend storing in the fridge to be sure. Jars of pickled ginger are usually not bulky and won’t take up much space in your fridge.
Opened jars of store-bought pickled ginger, though, must be refrigerated. Homemade pickled ginger should be kept in the fridge as well.
Is it Safe to Eat Pickled Ginger That’s Been Left Out Overnight?
Pickled ginger that’s been left out overnight on the counter will probably still be safe to consume, especially if it’s a jar of the commercially produced kind, which means it is probably acidic enough to protect it. It will probably still be okay as long as you it back in the fridge immediately.
Homemade pickled ginger though is a bit tricky as we do not know if the solution was acidic enough to protect the ginger. It might still be fine but for your peace of mind, it might be better to just get a new jar or make a new batch. Pickled ginger is not difficult to make, and it is inexpensive to buy.
How Do I Know Pickled Ginger Has Gone Bad?
Pickled ginger lasts a really long time when properly stored and when properly prepared. Most cases of pickled ginger going bad is due to improper handling and preparation.
So how do you know if your pickled ginger has gone bad?
Pickled ginger should be yellow or slightly pink, and the solution should be clear and not cloudy. If you see any other colors or see unusual things floating around, it might be best to just toss it.
Pickled ginger should have a sweet, gingery, or vinegary smell. If it has any other unpleasant or rancid smell, you should get rid of it.
If it was stored and handled properly, and there are no visible signs of mold, no off smell, and it tastes okay, your pickled ginger is likely still okay.
What Are the Benefits of Ginger?
Ginger is a great addition to a healthy diet because of its many health benefits, which include:
- Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
- Boosts Immunity
- Helps with bloating and gas and aids in digestion
- Has anti-cancer properties
- Helps fight infection and helps with nausea
- Supports brain function and heart health
- Helps control blood sugar
Aside from pickled ginger, it can be prepared and consumed in a lot of different ways like in tea form or sliced and added to dishes, making it easy to load up on its medicinal and health benefits.
Conclusion to Does Pickled Ginger Need to Be Refrigerated?
Pickled ginger, though not prone to spoiling because of its anti-microbial properties, is best stored in the fridge to preserve freshness and quality. Especially for homemade pickled ginger, storing it in the fridge allows you to enjoy your healthy, pickled ginger for a longer period of time.
Should I Refrigerate Pickled Ginger?
Pickled ginger is best stored in the fridge to prolong and preserve freshness and quality. While unopened store-bought jars may be stored for a short time at room temperature (unless the manufacturer explicitly states to refrigerate), opened jars should be kept refrigerated. Homemade pickled ginger is best stored in the fridge.
Is Pickled Ginger Healthy?
Pickled ginger is low in calories and like fresh ginger, has a lot of health benefits. Ginger helps fight inflammation and oxidation and helps with digestion. It increases our immunity and supports the health of a lot of our body systems.
How Long Can You Keep Pickled Ginger In The Refrigerator?
Pickled ginger can last up from six months to a year when properly handled and stored in the fridge. For store-bought pickled ginger, it is also important to check the manufacturer’s expiry date.