Close up on gari, pink pickled ginger
Food - Drink
Why Is Pickled Ginger At Sushi Restaurants Pink?
Thinly-sliced pickled ginger called gari — which may be beige to deep pink in color — is often served alongside sushi, intended to cleanse your palate between bites of fish. While some foods are naturally pink, ginger root is not, and you may wonder why this common sushi accoutrement is often dyed a rosy hue.
Most harvested ginger has an off-white or yellow color, but the process of adding sugar and vinegar during pickling awakens a red pigment called anthocyanin in the flesh and turns it pale pink. No artificial colors are involved in this process, but E124 cochineal red coloring or beet juice is often added for a bolder look.
If you're making gari at home and you want that classic pink hue with no extra colorants, buy fresh ginger during the harvest season, which is early summer. Younger ginger turns pink far more readily than older roots, and it also has a milder flavor and softer texture that make it better for pickling and cooking.