Atchara Pickle Is Great Digestive Aid

When I was a teenager, my mom and I would make atchara together. Atchara is a sweet-and-sour pickle made with green, unripe papayas and other vegetables. My mom would make florets out of a few carrots because they added beauty and color to the pickle. Eaten with grilled pork or fried fish, it’s considered a national dish of the Philippines. In America, I eat it with BBQ, grilled meat, and smoked fish.

Papayas contain papain, an enzyme that helps break down proteins. This is why I sometimes use green papaya as a meat tenderizer. (There is less papain in ripe papayas.) We traditionally serve atchara with meat dishes in the Philippines to aid in digestion. Papayas and jicama are rich in fiber, which pulls toxins out of the body and aids in weight loss. Vinegar can lower blood sugar and may help with weight loss because it helps you feel more full and satisfied.

Unfortunately, most of the olives and pickles on store shelves have been pasteurized and are probiotic free. That’s why it’s worth making your own. Here’s the recipe for you:




8 cups coarsely grated green papaya (or cucumber if you can’t find green papaya)
1/4 cup coarse salt
8-10 cloves of garlic (from one head), peeled
1/4 cup julienned fresh ginger
1/2 cup pearl onions, peeled
1/2 cup red bell pepper strips
1/2 cup green bell pepper strips
1/2 cup carrot florets or strips
1/2 cup jicama strips

Pickling solution

3 cups white balsamic vinegar (champagne or seasoned rice vinegars will also work)
2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup white sugar (for a sweet-and-sour pickle, double the sugar)


1.  Place the papaya shreds in a colander and sprinkle with the coarse salt. Allow to sit for 15 minutes.
2.  Make the pickling solution by combining ingredients in a porcelain or glass pan (don’t use a metal pot) and simmering for 10 minutes or until all the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
3.  Squeeze any remaining water out of the papaya shreds. Toss together with the remaining vegetables and place into wide-mouth pickling jars.
4.  Pour the cooled pickling solution over the vegetables. If the solution is too warm, the vegetables will cook. Top off the jars with water if necessary so that the vegetables are completely covered. Close jars tightly and put in the refrigerator overnight to cure.

Serves 8-10



About Grace O

Grace O has been cooking and baking professionally and recreationally all of her adult life. As a child in Southeast Asia, she learned the culinary arts by her mother’s side in her family’s cooking school. She became so well versed in hospitality and the culinary arts, she eventually took over the cooking school and opened three restaurants. She is widely credited with popularizing shrimp on sugar-cane skewers and being one of the first culinarians to make tapas a global trend. She has cooked for ruling families and royalty. Grace O’s move to America precipitated a career in healthcare, inspired by her father, who was a physician. Twenty years and much hard work later, she operates skilled nursing facilities in California. Grace O strives to create flavorful food using the finest ingredients that ultimately lead to good health. Her recipes, although low in saturated fat, salt, and sugar, are high in flavor. Grace employs spices from all over the world to enliven her dishes, creating food that is different and delicious. She believes that food can be just as effective at fighting aging as the most expensive skin creams. And since she’s over 50 herself, she’s living proof of that.
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