Gari, or pickled ginger, is eaten as a condiment with sushi. Personally the store can never put enough gari next to my wasabi. Last week when I picked up my package of California Rolls the worker at Earth Fare told me they are going to start charging for extra ginger and wasabi, $1 a cup. The hunt for making gari began right then and there.
Ginger root that fills your hand (and then some) is considered a hand of ginger. You want to pick ginger that is low on the nub factor, high on the meaty factor. First, take a hand of ginger.
Peel the ginger and slice as thin as you can. The perfect tool for the job is a mandolin. Since my fingertips tend to jump from my hand into the bowl leaving a trail of blood on the mandolin, I use a knife.
Older ginger tends to be very fibrous, you do not want to use these parts. The fiber will remain, the toughness will not ferment away, it will make a chewy end product. If you have a chunk of ginger that is acting fibrous and is not cutting smoothly but instead like a pack of bundled pieces of straw, cut them long ways going with the grain.
The fast and easiest way to make gari is to use equal parts local honey, water and salt (between one and one and a half tablespoons per qt). Let that sit with the lid on for 12 days or longer.
Many store bought brands or gari use Mountain Dew to add color and sweetness. Another recipe, that is more labor intensive but just as good follows:
Put all the ginger slices in the bowl, sprinkle with 1/2 T salt. Mix thoroughly. Let sit one hour. Pour off juice and save for cooking some other time. Bring 1 cup sugar and 1.5 cup vinegar to a boil (rice vinegar is best). Pack ginger into jars, pour hot vinegar on top let sit until cooled, cap and refrigerate. Let the ginger sit for one week to pickle and enjoy!
To make probiotic gari, slice the ginger with your mandolin and pack into jars. Fill a separate quart jar with filtered water up to one inch from the top. Add 2 tablespoons salt, shake until dissolved. Pour saltwater brine over sliced ginger leaving one inch of head space at the top of each jar. Put the lid on and leave the jars in a cool dark spot on the counter for 5-7 days then refrigerate. If you like your gari further fermented, leave it on the counter longer.
Pink gari come from young ginger, older ginger will result in a yellow gari. Each version has different probiotic strains.
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