Onigiri & Pickled Ginger with Elderberry Crystals

Onigiri & Pickled Ginger with Elderberry Crystals

We are loving this DIY pickled ginger.

It’s a no-fuss, no-cook, easy-peasy pickle.

Pickled ginger, often called sushi ginger, is a warming and versatile complement to a variety of dishes, brightening up root veggies, buddha bowls, and our favorite, onigiri (rice balls).

Unfortunately, it usually has artificial color, sugar, and aspartame. Not this homemade version! It’s a pickle fit for a cleanse! It’s a snap to make with just a handful of ingredients, too; ginger, vinegar, salt, and elderberry crystals. 

Elderberry Pickled Ginger


  • A jar with a min 500 mL capacity (a hinge and clamp style jar recommended)
  • 1 large ginger root
  • 300 mL (1 cup + 2 tbsp.) rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. coarse Kosher salt
  • 1 scoop Elderberry Crystals
  • 2 tsp. sugar or 1 packet stevia


  1. If you wish, remove the peel from the ginger root (best with a spoon).
  2. Slice the ginger as thin as possible (best with a mandolin) and set aside.
  3. Mix vinegar, salt, elderberry crystals, and sugar/stevia in your clean jar, and stir until fully dissolved.
  4. Transfer the sliced ginger to the jar, ensuring the pieces are all fully submerged under the brine.
  5. Loosen and stir until all the pieces are evenly soaked.
  6. Put the lid on the jar and store in the refrigerator until serving.

Pickle like a pro:

  • If you have fine salt or young, thin, pink ginger root, you will need less salt.
  • If the ginger is tough, cook for two minutes in the vinegar mixture before jarring.
  • These are edible immediately, but a couple of days will allow the flavor to mellow.
  • These should last a month in the refrigerator - keep the ginger submerged in the brine.

Onigiri - Tasty Little Rice Balls


Common fillings: Combinations of avocado, tuna, and mayonnaise, pickled ginger, plum or radish Common seasonings: Toasted sesame seeds, furekake seasoning, flaked bonito (cured tuna) Common accompaniments: Soy sauce, wasabi paste, Japanese pickles


  • Short grain or sushi rice
  • Coarse salt
  • Sushi nori (toasted seaweed)
  • Fillings and toppings


  1. Cook rice. Cool somewhat before handling. Fun Fact: Cooked and cooled rice is one of the very best sources of resistant starch. This type of starch is a good prebiotic; it feeds our probiotic gut bacteria, making them very happy. To foster a healthy microbiome, include cooked and cooled rice in your diet from time to time.
  2. Prepare a bowl of water and wet your hands. This step keeps the rice from sticking to your hands. If rice sticks, dip your hand in water, it is much safer than working the rice into a ball through plastic wrap, since plastic can contribute to our body burden of toxins.
  3. Next, spread salt on your hands. This traditional technique both adds flavour to the onigiri and helps them to keep longer also. Some people prefer to salt the water, and that works too.
  4. Shape into a ball, cone or triangle. This is your onigiri! Have fun.
  5. Create some space inside for the filling. With a wet finger, poke a hole into the ball, and make space to fill with whatever you like.
  6. Add your fillings and toppings. Fill with tuna and mayo, or avocado, whatever you like. Plug the hole with a little rice.
  7. Eat it/Wrap it up. To eat immediately, sprinkle on toppings, then add a grab handle out of nori (dried seaweed sheet). To eat later, wrap in a damp towel to keep it moist, and top and wrap prior to eating.

Dana Green Remedios, RHN, RNCP, is a Vancouver-based educator and coach. She is a regular contributor to the FloraHealthy blog and can answer your questions in English, French, and Spanish as a Product Information Specialist at Flora.