Side Dishes

Textbook achara (atsara)

Achara, or atsara, means pickled green papaya. I had an earlier recipe for achara but this one has two additional steps–brining or soaking in salt before pickling, and preservation by boiling the achara in sealed glass jars. Textbook achara (atsara)

I got the basic recipe from my daughter’s Home Economics textbook and modified it to suit my taste. If you want to make lots of achara and store them for future use, this recipe might be preferable over the earlier one which was meant for immediate consumption. Simply adjust the proportions to make as much as you want.

I served this achara with my baked chicken a la sinigang.


  • 2 green (unripe) papayas
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
  • 2 large white onions (or 5-6 shallots)
  • 1-1/4 c. of coco vinegar
  • 1-1/2 c. of white sugar
  • salt
  • jars with screw type caps


  1. Peel with papaya using a vegetable peeler. Grate the meat using a coarse grater. Measure the papaya. Place the grated papaya in a glass tray and sprinkle with salt. Use 1 tablespoonful of salt for every cup of grated papaya. Cover with cling wrap and chill for at least six hours. Place the papaya on a clean cheesecloth (I used my husband’s clean hanky) and wring to expel the water and salt. Dip the papaya (still in the cheesecloth) in cold water several times and wring to remove any excess salt.
  2. Core and deseed the bell peppers and cut into fine strips.
  3. Peel the onions and slice thinly.
  4. Peel the ginger and cut into strips, as thinly as you can.
  5. Prepare the pickling solution. Pour the vinegar into a saucepan. Stir in the sugar. Cook over medium heat just until the sugar melts.
  6. Toss together the papaya, bell peppers, onions and ginger. Place in jars. Pour in the pickling solution. Push the papaya and vegetables down with the back of a spoon or teaspoon to remove air bubbles. Screw on the covers tightly.
  7. Place the jars in a saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water about half the height of the jars. Boil for 30 minutes. Cool and store.
  8. Serve with grilled or fried fish, meat or chicken.

Quick notes

Once opened, it is best to keep the achara in the refrigerator.

Preparation time: 6 hour(s) 30 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 8

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