Acar Timun / Javanese Pickles


Almost always present at a Javanese meal, or so it seemed to me, was a generous bowl of sweet and sour carrot and cucumber picklesr Acar Timun… I used to munch on them throughout a meal, and oddly, I never tried to replicate them at home. That is, until I decided to cook the sop buntut yesterday and looked up recipes for the pickles and it turns out they are incredibly easy to make! So here is a quick recipe for Acar Timun, an essential accompaniment to Indonesian soups, fried rice, sates, etc. Make large julienned strips of carrots and cucumbers, roughly 2 to 1 proportion is what I like. It can be tedious to chop all of this by hand, but I found our mandoline was perfect for this task…

I suspect the old style of preapring this condiment was to salt and drain the cucumbers and carrots, but this recipe is a shortcut version. I just julienned some 6 or so cups total of carrots (peeled) and cucumbers (unpeeled, and pulpy centers discarded) then stuck them in a stainless steel bowl. I placed a small pot on the stove, added some 1.5 cups of coconut vinegar, about 3/4 cup of water, some 10 tablespoons of sugar and several teaspoons of salt. I also added a tablespoon or so of thinly sliced shallots and several whole peppercorns and a sliced green siling labuyo. Bring this mixture up to a boil and dissolve all of the sugar. Turn off the heat and let this cool for several minutes. Then pour the vinegary liquid over the carrots and cucumbers. Place this in an ice bath to cool it down quickly, stick it in the fridge for 3-4 hours and voila! acar timun. This quick approach discolors the cucumbers a bit, but it still tasted pretty authentic. Now that I know it is even easier to make than acharra, and edible almost instantly, this is something we will be making more often to pair with fried meats or seafood…


16 Responses

  1. A nice alternative to the papaya atchara. If you like ampalaya, it’s also nice done this way. But salting may be a good idea to reduce the bitterness.

  2. Zena…My favorit is ampalaya (sliced thinly) achara as well but I add juliennned ripe but still firm MANGOES, red peppers, lots of julienned ginger, sliced garlic and sliced shallots….has all the complex flavours…sweet, sour, a hint of bitterness and salty but fruity as’s really PAMPAGANA!!!

  3. My sister, who loves papaya atchara with her lechon manok and sinugbang bariles, might love this acar timun. Once I get home I’ll get her to cook these… Thanks MM! =D

  4. I do this same technique & ratio when pickling peeled julienne brocolli stems, mixed with julienne carrots and sweet banana peppers. What I liked with the brocolli stems is that it retain its crispness and crunch. When I was in Baguio years ago, I saw the brocolli they sell in the market are with long, huge stems. I haven’t tried to cook it this way, but I sure will do it next time I go Philippines. Brocolli stems here in Houston is short, and most of the time, they sell only the floweretts, so when I don’t get much from one cooking.

  5. MM,
    Fairly new to your site, stumbled across it while searching out filipino recipes. Being 2nd generation American-born filipino, sadly I wasn’t exposed to the language, culture or foods. I haven’t even been to the PI. Now, that my Ilocano grandmother is 100 years old, she doesn’t cook or have a memory of recipes. Looking at the beautiful photographs and reading the savory recipes whet my appetite as I peruse the site. When you list ingredients, I don’t always know what they are. Could you offer a translation? For example: siling labuyo. I should be able to find the ingredients here in California, since there are numerous markets that cater to these tastes…

  6. The Vietnamese serve a similar pickle with practically everything from their famous mini-baguette sandwich to their grilled meat with rice noodles. Only divergence is the addition of white radish that piles another layer of smell dimension and causes nose flaring among people you meet afterward.

  7. Apicio, you are right, the Vietnamese version has a little more “bite” to it. I once spent a couple of weeks in Hanoi with a short side trip to Saigon (HoChiMin), and I LOVED Vietnamese food… noree, welcome to the site! my apologies for not putting translations for all ingredients, I tried to do that earlier in the life of the blog, but have gotten lazy lately. Siling labuyo are similar to Thai bird’s eye chillies. As a tip though, I have featured most of the basic ingredients on posts of their own. And the best way to find the post out of 1,800+ in the archives is to google it… for example, you could google “siling labuyo marketmanila” and you should get the right post… my internal on-site search function is less targeted. Btw, I did several dozen posts from a road trip to Ilocos that might be of interest to you, including dishes such as bagnet, etc. that I eventually replicated at home, from scratch… you may want to surprise your grandmother with a taste of the homeland, so to speak?! :) EbbaMyra, locally grown broccolli here are often sold with 8 inches of stem, primarily to increase the revenue from the sale. The stem is quite good when peeled and stir-fried, but pickled sounds good as well! k ramos, I love papaya acharra as well, so I think your sister might indeed like this version, and this one takes little effort… betty q, is that version of acharra eaten freshly made, or do you bottle it and sink it into boling water to sterilize it for longer storage? zena, I did a thinly sliced ampalaya relish with vinegar many years ago and did a post on it together with a fried tilapia, I think…

  8. MM,have you tried making atcharra made from chayote (chokoes)?Prepare it with the same ingredients as you do with papaya pickles minus papaya and it really works.Here in Oz,we sometimes don’t have easy access to fresh green papayas so chayote is the best alternative.We always have this with tocino,longanisa and banh mi,sandwiches,etc..

  9. MarketMan I am proud to tell you that I followed your AMPALAYA SALAD recipe and the members of my family that eats ampalaya loved it so much! It will definitely be a typical side dish at our house.=)

    We do a a cumcumber,carrots and jicima salad like with only vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar as to its brine. The process is similar but we do not cook the brine and we add the jicima. Can this be done without cooking the brine? Will it taste the same?

    Thank you for sharing your recipes with us.=)

  10. When I make this ampalaya achara, MM, I make a BIG GARAPON of it. I never had the chance to prolong its shelf life by canning it in boiling water bath since this big garapon lasts only 3 to 4 days max. at our house. If I run out of it, the Asian store is just closeby and always have ampalaya year round. I would assume that it would lose its vibrant green color if I process it much like dill pickles though it would still remain crunchy like the baby dill pickles I make. Are there baby dills you could buy there? If you like baby dill pickles, let me know and I can share a really topnotch recipe I have perfected….also have rhubarb chutney, green tomato chutney and beet relish among others!

  11. Will definitely tries this thsi weekend when I have the time. Achara like ano? I ahve heard of the chayote achara as there is no green papaya in the 80’s ihere in the States. It was good but not as tasty as the real papaya achara. Now almost everything is found here in the States but it of no comparison to the real Filipino raised produce. The produce in Pinas taste better and very fresh; picked and rippened on the vine/tree.

  12. Okay now I’m craving filipino food. Filipino achara or anything pickled for that matter is heaven for me. I was the three year old in the fridge getting into gherkins, pickled onions and olives. I grew up and fell for the green mango and achara. I have found that achara is a lil sweet though in manila, so you have inspired me to make my own when i get back. I think I will adore the ampalaya recipe, a vegetable I cannot get enough of, after conditioning myself to like it in manila.

    I’m still trying to work out how producers get the broccoli stems so long, and ask the heads to remain so small. I have always pondered on this!

  13. I found the ampalaya salad entry. Can’t say I’m brave enough to try ampalaya relatively uncooked as I have only taught myself to eat this within the past 2 years and I am in my 30’s, hehe. But I do enjoy the pickled version.
    Betty Q., my first time to hear of pickled ripe mangoes. I grew up with the pickled green ones but your version sounds very interesting.

  14. Zena…give this ampalaya achara a try! Initially, you will taste just a hint of bitterness…nothing overwhelming. Sometimes, there is no bitterness at all. Then after that first two spoonfuls, you will reach for more. Then you will keep on opening the fridge and the garapon to get more as the day goes on. By the next day, you will notice almost a third of the garapon is gone and you will wonder…Did I eat that?

  15. Apicio – do you love thos Vietnamese sandwiches called Ban Mi? I do too, and I tell the lady to put alot of carrots and cilantro. Speaking of carrots, one time I only had “old”carrots in the fridge and I wanted to serve various veggies with ranch style dip. Well, after slicing lengthwise the carrots, I soaked them in cold “sugared” water (same with celery), thingking it might take out the bitterness from being so long in the fridge. Well, it was a success, the celery sticks and carrots taste fresh with mild sweetness in them.



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