Achara is served all year round with fried foods like lechon kawali (fried pork belly) or grilled foods like inihaw na liempo. Achara has a sweeter brine than other quick pickles.
Making achara at home is easy and lasts for some time in the refrigerator. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about achara or quick pickles.
Achara, also spelled atchara or atsara, are quick pickles or refrigerator pickles made from green, unripe papayas. A condiment originating in the Philippines, it is often served with grilled or fried foods.
Achara is slightly crunchy, tangy, and full of flavor. Achara is typically sweeter than other pickles.
Quick pickles, also known as refrigerator pickles, are vegetables (or fruits) marinated in a vinegar solution and refrigerated for a few hours or days. No canning process which involves boiling water to vacuum-seal jars or fancy equipment is needed to make these homemade pickles.
It's best to brine achara for about three days to get the right texture and flavor. You may be able to enjoy it sooner if the vegetables are cut very small or simmered lightly in the brine. A taste test will help you determine if they are ready. You should use your best judgment here.
Generally, achara or refrigerator pickles should be consumed within a month of being refrigerated. A pickle's shelf life also depends on its acidity and how well it was handled. Those at a greater risk of food-borne illness should consume refrigerator pickles sooner rather than later.
Yes, it does. Quick pickles, such as achara, are not meant to be stored for a long time in the refrigerator. Achara typically lasts about a month or longer, depending on its acidity or handling. You should discard any remaining pickles if their flavor or smell changes.
Yes. A quick pickle like achara is NOT shelf-stable and must be refrigerated.
When the achara smells bad, it's time to throw it out. Check for signs of spoilage, such as molds, mushy/slimy pickles, cloudy/foamy/fizzy brine, mold, or bulging lids. If you are unsure, it is best to discard them.
Achara is quick-pickled in a vinegar brine; it is not fermented. A few days in the brine are all it takes for them to be ready to be enjoyed. Pickling involves soaking food in an acidic brine to produce a sour flavor, while fermenting gives food a sour flavor without any added acid.
In Filipino cuisine, achara is typically paired with fried foods like lechon kawali or grilled foods like Pork BBQ skewers. You can also eat it as an appetizer, add it to sandwiches, or serve it with just about any entree.
While achara and other quick pickles may offer some health benefits, they will not contain as much beneficial bacteria as fermented pickles containing probiotics that create a healthy environment in your gut.
You can make quick pickles with equal parts of vinegar and water, depending on how sour you want them to be. You should remember that the more acidic the brine, the longer its shelf life will be.
When the vinegar mixture is briefly boiled, the flavors will meld together and be better absorbed by the vegetables. If you prefer achara with vegetables that are a little softer or want to enjoy it sooner, you can boil the vegetables in the brine for a few minutes.
Pickling vinegar should have at least 5% acidity to preserve properly. Distilled white vinegar has a neutral taste, is clear, and is the most cost-effective. You can also use apple cider, white wine, and rice vinegar.
The sweetness of the sugar balances the sharpness of the vinegar. Although most quick pickles don't require sugar, achara does. The brine is usually sweet, but you can always adjust it to your taste.
Botulism is often caused by foods with low acid content and little/no air, such as home-canned, preserved, or fermented foods that have been improperly prepared or stored.
Toxins produced by Clostridium botulinum will not grow in acidic conditions below pH 4.6. The brine must be acidic enough to preserve the food. Proper handling and storage can also prevent contamination.
Pickling extends the shelf life of food by preserving it. In a salt brine, lactic acid is produced as a result of fermentation, increasing the brine's acidity. As a result, the pH decreases to below 4.6, acidic enough to preserve the food for months or even years.
The other method is by immersing food in an acidic solution like vinegar. Food spoilage is slowed down by the vinegar's acid and naturally formed acids in the food itself.
The shelf life of pickles depends on how it was handled, stored, and the acidity of the brine. Keep the pickles immersed in the brine to avoid them from spoiling so soon.
You can freeze pickles if you have to; however, the texture and quality won't be the same with their high water content.
The common vegetables you can pickle are cucumbers, green tomatoes, cauliflower, red onions, carrots, radishes, peppers, ginger, and cabbage. Get creative, as the possibilities are endless. Make sure these vegetables are fresh and firm, without bruising or blemishes.
If you want to try it, I have the easiest achara (pickled green papaya) recipe for you. Keep it available in the fridge and make your meals better.