Atchara fermented green papaya in raw coconut water vinegar
What is Atchara? [ot chá ra]
Atchara is a traditional
Philippine fermented dish made with unripe raw green papaya, fresh raw
ginger root, and other raw ingredients in a vinegar base. As kimchi is to
the Koreans, chutney to the Indians, and sauerkraut is to the Germans, so
atchara is a traditional fermented dish valued in Philippine culture.
During my years living in
the Philippines, I was often served this native dish, especially at holiday
gatherings where a LOT of food is traditionally consumed. While most
Filipinos probably could not say “why” it was a custom to eat atchara during
holiday gatherings, I suspect that the large amount of sweets (mostly rice
and coconut based) and the large amount of meats (mostly pork) consumed
during the holidays probably contributed well to the concept of having a
natural digestive aid in this fermented papaya dish. Many Filipinos are not
wealthy enough to eat meat regularly outside of these special events. Add
that to the fact that most people living in the rural areas do not have
refrigeration, and therefore consume meat in larger quantities during these
holiday and festive gatherings (such as “lechon” - a roasted whole pig),
atchara became a strong tradition at the meals of these events, as their
digestive systems were not naturally used to digesting large amounts of
meats on a regular basis. The two main drawbacks I saw to the product were
that it was usually made with white refined sugar and white distilled
vinegar in modern times.
Knowing the nutritional
value of papaya and fermented foods, Marianita and I began a quest to make a
truly raw fermented atchara (as it once probably was years ago) that could
take its rightful place in the market of other traditionally fermented
vegetable dishes such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and chutney, which are
well-known around the world. It was a journey that took more than 5 years to
develop, since this was strictly a “homemade” type of product in the
Philippines. One of our biggest challenges was developing a raw coconut
water vinegar that could be consistently produced from the water of our
organic coconuts. We knew this would add tremendous nutritional value to the
dish. We also wanted only the best possible ingredients that the Philippines
had to offer, as you will read below.
So finally, after more than
5 years of development, we bring to you Tropical Traditions Atchara
from the Philippines, which we believe will soon become the most beloved
fermented native dish the world has yet seen!
Founder, Tropical Traditions, Inc.
How is Tropical Traditions Atchara Unique?
While most of the atchara
available in the Philippines is made with distilled vinegar, Tropical
Traditions decided to develop its own raw vinegar which is fermented from
coconut water - the water inside coconuts. We used the water from the same
certified coconuts used to make our
Virgin Coconut Oil.
After several years of research, we successfully fermented our organic
coconut water into a healthy vinegar rich in all the minerals available in
coconut water, and stable enough to keep it raw with the mother of vinegar
present. This is truly a raw and "live" food that has NOT been pasteurized.
The organic ingredients are listed below. All of these ingredients are
supplied by small-scale family farmers, so you are supporting families in
the Philippines when you purchase
Tropical Traditions Atchara.
Quality Ingredients Used in Tropical Traditions Atchara
We start with certified organic unripe green papaya grown by small-scale
family farmers in the Philippines. We carefully select the wild variety of
"native papaya." Japanese researchers have found that the native Philippine
papaya can contain up to four times the amount of papain (a plant-based
digestive enzyme) than imported varieties of papaya in the Philippines. The
papaya fruit is harvested before it reaches maturity, when enzyme activity
is at its highest level, and the fruit is a strong fibrous green. Filipinos
often eat unripe green papaya as a vegetable, since sugar content is low in
its unripe state. The digestive enzyme papain which is found in papaya has
long been used as a plant-based digestive aid in enzyme supplements. Green
papaya is also very high in antioxidants. Eating
Tropical Traditions Atchara is the best way to eat raw green papaya
short of traveling to the tropics and eating it right off the tree. The raw
coconut water vinegar preserves the organic raw papaya, as well as the other
Organic Raw Coconut Water Vinegar
water inside the coconut shell is packed with nutrients that nourishes the
nut as it prepares to germinate and start growing into a new coconut tree,
which is exactly what would happen if you let a coconut fall from the tree
to the ground and leave it there, given the proper moisture and soil
conditions. Coconut water is high in many vitamins and minerals, especially
potassium. Because it contains electrolytes, it is considered one of the
best natural rehydrating drinks in the tropics. Pasteurized coconut water
retains most of the minerals, and is frequently sold as a sports drink.
Since fresh coconut water deteriorates so quickly once it is exposed to air,
it is best obtained and consumed in the tropics where it can be purchased
fresh, with all the nutrients and enzymes in tact. Packaged coconut waters
must be pasteurized, destroying some of the nutrients. It has been reported
that during World War II coconut water was used in emergencies as IV fluids,
since the nutrient-packed water is completely sterile inside the coconut
until the hard shell is cracked and it is exposed to air.
In the Philippines and other
tropical places, raw coconut water is often left in the open air to ferment,
where it eventually turns into a vinegar. The fermentation process enhances
the nutrients, unlike heat pasteurization. The acidic environment prevents
the growth of undesirable bacteria naturally. This process is a "backyard"
cottage industry, however, and the final product is seldom consistant or
attaining to our high standards. Therefore, Tropical Traditions worked
with professors at the University of the Philippines for several years to
develop an incubation system that could produce clean coconut water vinegar
from our certified organic coconuts (used to make our
Virgin Coconut Oil)
and retain the mother of vinegar (a colony of bacteria cultures) as a truly
raw product. We use the mother of vinegar to inoculate future batches of
organic coconut water vinegar.
Organic Whole Muscabado Sugar
We use only certified organic Muscabado whole cane sugar, grown by a
cooperative of small scale family farmers in the Philippines. The sugar is
also Fair Trade certified. Muscabado sugar is a whole sugar that is
extracted from the sugar cane using traditional methods. It contains all the
natural nutrients found in raw sugar cane or molasses. Sugar is needed in
the fermentation process, and most other atcharas are made with refined
white sugar, and the atchara is green in color due to the color of the
papaya. Our Muscabado whole cane sugar is a deep brown in color, which gives
a brown coloring to
Tropical Traditions Atchara.
The sugar is needed in the fermentation process, and much of it is used up
during fermentation. Atchara is not sweet at all.
Organic Raw Ginger Root
Ginger is another ingredient in
atchara that is known for aiding digestion. It grows well in tropical
climates, and is a popular seasoning herb in many Philippine dishes, mostly
cooked. As an ingredient in atchara, it is added raw and is enhanced through
fermentation in the raw vinegar. Our source of ginger comes from the remote
areas of Mt. Banahaw in the Philippines, far away from large cities and
pollution. It is the same area where most of our
Virgin Coconut Oil
is produced, and the ginger is grown by small-scale family farms.
Native Tagalog Garlic
The native Philippine Tagalog garlic is much smaller than imported garlic,
and prized as a much more potent and stronger garlic than larger imported
varieties. We use only Tagalog garlic in Tropical Traditions Atchara,
and our small-scale family farmers raising this garlic are in the process of
becoming certified organic. Garlic has traditionally been known as an immune
supporting herb with remarkable nutritional qualities. The Tagalog garlic is
known in Asia as one of the most potent native varieties.
Our sea salt is Philippine sea salt dried from the sea in rural island
Traditions Atchara is best used as a condiment during meal times. The
coconut water vinegar should NOT be discarded after all the papaya has been
consumed. It can be used as any other vinegar, such as part of a salad
dressing. Note: The coconut water vinegar in this Atchara is VERY
strong! Dilute with purified water to reach the lower acidity level of
standard vinegars, if desired.
I have been a regular customer of Tropical Traditions for several years now. Their products taste delicious and
you always have the assurance that they are pure and processed with the upmost care. I am very interested in LIVE foods, and not a particular fan of sauerkraut. I read about Atchara from the Philippines, and took advantage of a buying club bargain several months ago. I had six jars sent to my home. That Atchara has all the enzymes and punch of the best kraut with milder taste. It can be eaten on deli sandwiches for a little kick, as well as adding it to crock pots, pot roasts, or stews. I love it! Beats the heck out of kimchee! The kids will never suspect you are medicating their food with vitamins and enzymes
necessary for key metabolic processes. Overall, I have been extremely satisfied with the products, catalog descriptions, and company processing of all my orders and heartily recommend them to anyone looking for healthier food choices for their family. Deborah - Birmingham, AL