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by Jody Gowans in Lacto-fermentation, Recipes
June 10, 2019

This Thai-Inspired, Lacto-Fermented Green Papaya is my new rockstar condiment. I know, the title is long, but it resembles the flavour: catchy, and flavourful?! Read on!


Thai-inspired fermented green papaya is my new favourite condiment. Its crisp, salty, savoury and hint of lime flavour pairs beautifully with a variety of dishes. It is not too overpowering and lends a freshness and kick. I like to serve it not just with South East Asian cuisine, but also Indian, anything grilled, barbecued, and tossed in salads and sandwiches. My father-in-law loves anything with lots of flavour and heat, and indiscriminately heaps it on everything!

Yummy Indian dinner paired perfectly with the Thai-Inspired Fermented Green Papaya!

It is super easy to make. I used the same dry brine technique as for sauerkraut and got a delicious result! If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, green papaya might be hard to find and pricey. I live in Quebec, Canada, where papayas are imported, but I have been able to make small batches of Thai-Inspired Fermented Green Papaya very successfully!


I created Thai-Inspired Lacto-Fermented Green Papaya by necessity. My neighbour, Hannah, an enthusiastic university student in Nutrition asked me if I had a fermented papaya recipe for a hot salsa she wanted to make. After searching with no luck, I decided to make my own using a green papaya. The result: an incredibly tasty, crunchy, savoury, spicy, addictive and satisfyingly tangy condiment! Thanks, Hannah for the inspiration- this is one of my most favourite ferments so far, and definitely takes an already delicious and nutritious food to another level of flavour!

While researching for this article, I discovered that I didn’t really make up this recipe, just the fermented part. Green papaya salad is enjoyed throughout Southeast Asia. Som Tum is a popular version found in Thailand. It is made with lime juice, sugar, chili peppers and can also include additional ingredients such as fish sauce, roasted peanuts and tomatoes.

But First: PAPAYAS-Healthy Facts

Green Papaya

The papaya is a tropical fruit with either orangy red or yellow flesh. It contains high levels of vitamins C, E, A, as well as significant levels folate, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron and antioxidants.

Papayas are also considered to be a digestive aid as they naturally contain papain, an enzyme that breaks down proteins. Green (unripe) papayas have been found to contain higher levels of papain as well as potassium than ripe papayas. This nutritional bonus amps up this tasty ferment- I love when I can multi-task nutrition and flavour!



Crushed red chili flakes and kaffir lime leaf added to salted green papaya
  • 1 unripe papaya (approximately .5 kg/1 lb)
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) non iodized salt
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf (or juice and zest of one lime)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chilis (or hot pepper of your choice)


  • Wash and peel papaya, cut in half and remove seeds
  • Grate papaya or cut into matchstick slices
  • add salt and massage into papaya to express liquid to create a brine
  • stir in chilis (or diced hot pepper of your choice) and kaffir lime leaf and or lime
  • pack into fermentation container, add fermentation weight to force papaya below its brine
  • close lid and leave to ferment at room temperature, out of direct sunlight for 1-2 weeks
  • store in the fridge to decelerate fermentation
  1. David L Hagler says:

    Oh I made this an it is a winner. I used a smidgen of fermented lime and fermented hot sauce………great!

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi David- nice! that sounds delicious! Fermented lime and hot sauce add even more flavour!

  2. Camille Hewlett says:

    How long will this ferment last under refrigeration?

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Hi Camille- the ferment should last at least 6 months to a year in the fridge. Make sure to keep the container sealed and to use a clean fork or spoon each time.

  3. Jennifer says:

    Cambodians ferment the green papaya sometimes along with pre-fermenting shrimp to add in it. Its called: Mam La’hong. They also add in roasted rice powder and the best part is shredded or minced galangal in it.

    1. Jody Gowans says:

      Thanks Jennifer! That sounds delicious, I will have to try it when I get another green papaya!

      1. Wendy says:

        Where do you get your green papayas from???

      2. Jody Gowans says:

        I can find them in grocery stores- most stores carry at least a few.

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