Cookbook:Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon

Cookbook | Recipes | Ingredients | Vegetables

Bitter melon, also known as foo qua, balsam pear, and bitter gourd, is a vegetable related to pumpkin and zucchini.

Characteristics edit

Bitter melons are members of the squash family and resemble a cucumber with bumpy skin. The Indian variety is darker in color with smaller, spikier bumps, while the Chinese variety is lighter with more folds and wrinkles.[1] When first picked, a bitter melon is yellow-green, but it turns a yellow-orange color as it ripens.[2] The inside of the melon is filled with fibrous seeds, and the flesh is crisp when raw.[1]

As the name implies, all varieties have a sharp bitter flavor. Typically, the bitterness of the vegetable increases with size.

Seasonality edit

Seasonality tables | Autumn | Winter | Spring | Summer | All year
Bitter Melon Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Northern hemisphere                        
Southern hemisphere                        

Bitter melons are available fresh from April to September in most Asian markets and can occasionally be found in larger supermarkets. They are primarily grown in tropical climates, including East Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and South America. Some markets are beginning to carry bitter melons year round. They may also be purchased canned or dried.

Selection and storage edit

Select firm, unblemished melons that are from 5–12 inches in length. Choose melons that are still green for a more bitter flavor and a yellow-orange melon for a milder taste. Store loose in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3–5 days.[2] Slice the melon immediately before use.

Use edit

Bitter melon fruit, shoots, and leaves are all edible. It is used in Indian, Nepali, Chinese, Japanese, Burmese, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Thai, and other cuisines. It can be steamed, fried, pickled, blanched, baked, stuffed, stir-fried, juiced, and used in soups.[2]

To prepare, cut the melon in half and discard the seeds and fibrous core. The skin is edible and the melon is not typically peeled.[3] The seeds are technically edible, unless very hard, and are used in some recipes.

There are various ways to reduce the bitter taste. Tossing it in salt and letting it sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour can help leach out some of the bitterness.[1][2] Soaking in cold water or blanching it for 2–3 minutes before further cooking can also reduce the bitterness.[1][2] Garlic, chili peppers, yogurt, and salty savory condiments are often added to recipes to offset the bitter taste.[1]

Recipes edit

References edit

  1. a b c d e Rose, Sharon (2016-04-04). "What Is Bitter Melon And How Do You Cook It?". Food Republic. Retrieved 2024-01-04.
  2. a b c d e "Bitter Melon". FoodPrint. Retrieved 2024-01-04.
  3. "Simple Tips for Preparing Bitter Melon". The Spruce Eats. Retrieved 2024-01-04.