Since You Asked: Pickled gingers come in white, pink and red

I enjoy eating sushi in the Rogue Valley and when I travel. One of the best parts of sushi is the pickled ginger. I've noticed that most of the pickled ginger is pink, but sometimes it's white. Why are they different colors?

— Roya S., Ashland

Pickled ginger, called gari in Japan, traditionally comes in three colors: white, pink and red.

Pickled ginger may take on a pale pink tint with age, but the striking pink and red hues come from dyes, according to some Rogue Valley Japanese restaurateurs.

"It's just for looks," said Emiko Pierce, owner of Gen Kai Japanese Restaurant in Medford.

Gen Kai uses white ginger, just for your information.

The color could come from artificial dye or from ingredients such as beets.

If you pickle your own ginger, you could expand the color scheme. There are various recipes for pickling your own ginger on the Internet. Some type of vinegar, typically rice vinegar, sugar, salt and, of course, fresh ginger are the usual ingredients.

Pickled ginger also is sold in a variety of sweetness, from sweet to more tart, depending how much sugar is added.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to

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