Achara (Pickled Green Papaya), also spelled atchara or atsara, is a quick pickle made with thin strips of green papaya soaked in vinegar, salt, and sugar. It is so simple to make and can brighten up just about any meal.
For a classic Filipino meal, serve achara with Longganisa (Filipino Sausage), Beef Tapa, Chicken Tocino or Pork Tocino (Sweet Cured Pork), with Java Rice or Sinangag (Garlic Fried Rice).
Ingredients you’ll need
Notes and substitutions
- Green papaya: A crunchy, tasteless vegetable that is ideal for pickling. It absorbs flavors well and stays crisp in the brine. Choose one that is firm and has a vibrant green color.
- Vinegar: Distilled white vinegar with 5% acidity or sharpness is ideal for pickling. It is inexpensive and won't change the color of the vegetables.
- Sugar: Unlike other quick pickles, Achara typically has a sweet brine. You can always adjust the sweetness to suit your taste.
How to make this recipe
Step 1: Slice 2 pounds of green papaya into thin matchsticks. You can make Lumpiang Sariwa (Fresh Spring Rolls) with the rest of the papaya.
You can also use a (1a)julienne slicer or a (1b)julienne peeler.
Step 2: Slice 1 carrot into thin matchsticks.
You can use a (2a)julienne slicer or a (2b)julienne peeler.
Step 3: Slice 1 red bell pepper into thin strips.
Step 4: Slice 1 onion thinly.
Step 5: Combine the vegetables in a bowl. Add ½ teaspoon whole peppercorns (or ground pepper) and ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper. Toss them together.
Step 6: Prepare the brine by boiling 2½ cups vinegar, 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon kosher salt (use less for table salt), 4 garlic cloves, and 1 tablespoon ginger. Give it a taste and adjust as needed.
Step 7: Tightly pack the vegetables into glass jars and pour the hot brine until completely submerged. Let it cool, then put the airtight lids on.
PRO TIP: To prevent shattering the jars, combine the vegetables and hot brine in a heat-proof bowl first. Transfer to jars once they have cooled.
Allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least a day before eating. If you want a more intense flavor, leave it for a little longer. It can last about a month in the fridge.
Blanching is an optional step to tenderize tough vegetables like cauliflower or larger cuts of carrots. It helps remove some of the heat from hot peppers. Slicing the vegetables thin or small allows them to absorb the brine fully without needing to be blanched.
If you have it, use it. Protect your fingers with a slicing guard or cut-resistant gloves. If you don't have one, it's time to practice your knife skills. You don't have to make precise cuts. Who’s checking, anyway?
More about achara (pickled green papaya)
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Achara (Pickled Green Papaya)
- Julienne peeler or slicer (optional)
- 2 quarts wide-mouthed jars (or 4 pints)
- 2 pounds green papaya julienned
- 1 medium carrot julienned
- 1 small red bell pepper julienned
- 1 red onion thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon whole peppercorns sub: ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2½ cups distilled white vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar adjust to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- 4 garlic cloves grated
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- Combine green papaya, carrots, red bell pepper, and red onion in a bowl.
- Add whole peppercorns and crushed red pepper. Toss them together.
- Boil vinegar, water, sugar, salt, ginger, and garlic in a saucepan. Give it a taste and adjust if necessary.
- Tightly pack the vegetables into glass jars and pour the hot brine until completely submerged.
- Let it cool, then put the airtight lids on.
- Allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least a day before eating. If you want a more intense flavor, leave it for a little longer.