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Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon or Bitter Gourd is a fruit, that’s treated as a vegetable. True to its name, this fruit is extremely bitter and is seldom consumed in its raw form. While extremely bitter, it is also extremely rich in vitamins and minerals. This fruit is prevalent in Asian cuisine.

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Order: Cucurbitales
  • Family: Cucurbitaceae
  • Genus: Momordica
  • Species: M. charantia
  • Binomial name: Momordica charantia

Bitter Melon Trivia

  • Bitter melon contains the phytonutrient, polypeptide-P. This is a plant insulin known to lower blood sugar.
  • Bitter melon juice is said to help cure the effects of a hangover.
  • Bitter melon has been used in traditional medicine and cooking for over 600 years.
  • Bitter melon has more than a hundred names, from bitter apple, bitter squash, African cucumber, balsam apple, balsam pear, karela, sorosi, vegetable insulin, and so much more.

Bitter Melon Buying Guide

Bitter melon gets more bitter as it matures. The color that you should be aiming for when picking bitter melon is light green, and the groves (wrinkles) should be far apart and “fat”. The “fatter” your bitter melon looks; the less bitter the taste will be.

Avoid buying bitter melon that is shrivelled up and dark green, the bitterness can become unpalatable. Also, be on the lookout for blemishes and bruising. The bitter melon you pick should also be firm and not squishy.

Bitter Melon Production & Farming in Texas

As of writing, there are no commercial bitter melon growing activities in Texas.

A 3-year study was released last 2018 that demonstrated that it was feasible for commercial Bitter Melon growing to be done in Texas with the proper agronomic and climatic conditions. With the rise in popularity of superfoods, we can expect the Bitter Melon to become a locally grown product in the coming years.

Pesticides:

Bitter Melons have the highest concentration of pesticide residue than any other vegetable out there. This is due to the groves and wrinkles on the surface of the product. Add to the fact the bitter melon isn’t peeled before cooking, makes it essential to thoroughly scrub and wash the bitter melon before cooking.

Geography:

Bitter melons thrive in compost-rich, well-drained soil with a pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.7. It needs at least 6 hours of sunlight a day to flower properly.

Packaging:

Bitter melon is best harvested while still being young and tender. They should not be allowed to mature on the vine. As a plant can contain many fruits, each with different maturity levels, care must be taken when removing fruits from the vine. Removing fruits should be done every other day as not to kill the plant. They are then packed in crates and stored in a cool area to await transport to their final destination.

Enjoying Bitter Melons

Bitter Melon is not typically consumed raw. The only raw form of bitter melon consumption is usually in the form of bitter melon juices and smoothies. Make sure to scrub and clean the Bitter Melon surface before throwing it into the juicer or blender.

Storage:

To extend the shelf life of your bitter melon, you can wrap it in a paper towel and store it inside the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator for up to five days.

Bitter Melon does not freeze well, so avoid freezing.

Cooking:

To cook Bitter Melon, first, you must wash it thoroughly to remove any pesticide residue. Cut the Bitter Melon lengthwise, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and the spongy part in the middle. After cleaning out the seeds, you can proceed to cut the rest of Bitter Melon into the size you want.

Bitter melon works best when stir-fried with other ingredients. It can also be used in omelettes, where the creaminess of the eggs offset the Bitter Melon’s bitterness.

Tip: If you want to reduce the bitterness, you can soak the cut pieces in water for up to three hours before cooking.

Nutrition:

With Bitter Melons, bitter is better for you.

  • Carbs
    • 100g of Bitter melon only contains 4 grams of carbs, with the majority of that being dietary fiber.
  • Fiber
    • The fiber in Bitter Melon helps normalize bowel movement.
    • In addition to polypeptide-P, the fiber in bitter melons help regulate blood sugar levels
  • Vitamins and minerals:
    • One serving of Bitter melon contains over 100% of your RDI for Vitamin C.
      • Vitamin C boosts the immune system and plays a significant role in bone formation and wound healing.
    • One serving of Bitter melon contains around 50% of your RDI for Vitamin A
      • Vitamin A promotes proper vision and better skin health.
    • One serving of Bitter melon contains 18% of your RDI for Folate
      • Folate is essential for growth.
    • Bitter melon also contains epicatechin, catechin, gallic acid, and chlorogenic acid; antioxidants that help protect your cells against damage.

Nutrition

DV%

  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 17 1%
  • Carbs: 3.7g 3%
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Fiber: 2.8g 7%
  • Protein: 1g 2%
  • Fat: 0.17g 0.5%
  • Saturated Fat: 0g 0%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0g 0%
  • Sodium 5mg 1%
  • Vitamin C 84mg 140%
  • Vitamin A 471IU 16%
  • Calcium 19mg 2%
  • Iron 0.43mg 5%
  • Potassium 296mg 6%
  • Vitamin B6 40%
  • Zinc 0.8mg 7%
  • Folate 17%

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