The Bitter Melon

Bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd or bitter cucumber, fulfills it’s name. Like a witch’s nose, it is long, green and warty and has a bitter taste to it (not the nose, the melon!). Normally, many people try to reduce the bitterness of the gourd to make it more palatable. One method is by blanching them so that some of the bitterness dissipates. Another method is through salting the bitterness out. Either way, the seeds inside the melon need to be removed first in order to achieve less bitterness!

Fresh Picked Bitter Melon

So why do people succumb to torturing themselves eating this bitter gourd? Well, for one there are lots of nutrients and benefits to eating it (no pain, no gain). Secondly, it arouses any jaded tongue with a swift kick to the taste buds. It’s not often we come across eating something bitter. I remember as a child, I hated eating bitter melon but as an adult I learned to appreciate it (I like to awaken my taste buds every now and then!).

Growing up, my mother prepared bitter melon by adding some salty black bean sauce, chicken, soy sauce, oyster sauce and sugar to counteract some of the bitterness (in addition to blanching it first). However, I have also had battered and fried bitter melon too. Normally, we buy them from the grocery store but this year one of our neighbours grew some in their garden and were kind enough to give some to us.

The Beautiful Vibrant Colours of a Fresh Bitter Melon

This is the first time I have ever experienced fresh bitter melon right out of a garden and I must say, a super fresh bitter melon tastes completely different from the store bought kind. It even looks different. The green colour seems more lively and vibrant and the inside of the melon mimics the colour of a pumpkin. However, what was shocking to me was the red seeds. You never find those in grocery store bought bitter gourds. Moreover, these red seeds are edible. Don’t make the mistake I did by chewing on the whole thing, you’re only supposed to eat the red skin around the seed! It has a subtly sweet taste to it and it’s not bitter at all. Cooking the bitter melon itself also renders a sweeter version with less bitterness. Who knew?

Fresh Bitter Melon Seeds

It was definitely an eye-opener. It makes me ponder how far removed we are from true, fresh produce when we purchase them at the grocery store. Based on our experience, we decided to scrape the seeds and dry them out. Hopefully we can use them to grow some fresh ones on our own next year. Have you ever tried bitter melon?


12 Comments Add yours

  1. Yes I use to make stir fry and curry… will post that soon😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rini says:

      Yes, I hear Indian cooking uses lots of bitter melon. Looking forward to it. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Archana says:

    Love bitter melon. Make thin slices of it and stir fry on low heat in some salt and oil until nice an crisp!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rini says:

      Crispy is always good. Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚


  3. annika says:

    Hmm… if I am not mistaken, the red seeds occur when the vegetable has had time to mature on the vine and was not picked early enough. We often pick ours when they are young and tender (hence no seeds)… and usually let a few mature to be able to collect the seeds for the year after. next year, I’ll be sure to try the seeds as well. thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rini says:

      Interesting. That makes sense. Thanks for the tidbit, Annika. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. cookingflip says:

    I discovered that by slicing them very thinly the bitter taste isn’t that very noticeable anymore. Have you tried pickling this? Oh you must (yummy!)!

    Thanks for the tip about the red coating on the seeds–I didn’t know they’re edible! We just throw the whole seeds back in the garden (in the PH) with the compost where they just grow again!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rini says:

      Thabks for the tip! I shall try slicing it thinner. I haven’t tried pickling it before though. That must be an interesting flavour combo. How do you usually do it? You must share. I’m enticed. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  5. cookingflip says:

    I just pickle it for a few hours in sugar cane/coconut vinegar/pineapple juice (with sugar, salt, pepper). You can add other thinly sliced vegetables too (eg, carrots).
    In the PH this is made into omelette too–but fried first before the beaten egg is poured over it (like in a fritata). Sometimes, sardines is also included in the bitter melon omelette.
    I envy you–I have no access to fresh bitter melon where I am in the UK!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rini says:

      I guess I take for granted how many things we get imported here. We are fortunate. Thanks for the pickling recipe!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. cookingflip says:

        Have a great week ahead, Rini!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Rini says:

        Likewise! πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

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