bittermelon 10116 Posts | Joined BG: Oct 16, 2007 Last Visit: 6 years ago
Age 37
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Work chef, stay at home mom
Location Austin, Texas
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hi.. welcome to baby gaga..

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Momordica charantia is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown for edible fruit, which is among the most bitter of all vegetables. English names for the plant and its fruit include bitter melon or bitter gourd (translated from Chinese: 苦瓜; pinyin: kǔguā)
The original home of the species is not known, other than that it is a native of the tropics. It is widely grown in South and Southeast Asia, China, Africa, and the Caribbean.


Bitter melons
The herbaceous, tendril-bearing vine grows to 5 m. It bears simple, alternate leaves 4-12 cm across, with 3-7 deeply separated lobes. Each plant bears separate yellow male and female flowers.
The fruit has a distinct warty looking exterior and an oblong shape. It is hollow in cross-section, with a relatively thin layer of flesh surrounding a central seed cavity filled with large flat seeds and pith. Seeds and pith appear white in unripe fruits, ripening to red; they are not intensely bitter and can be removed before cooking. However, the pith will become sweet when the fruit is fully ripe, and the pith's color will turn red. The pith can be eaten uncooked in this state, but the flesh of the melon will be far too tough to be eaten anymore. Red and sweet bitter melon pith is a popular ingredient in some special southeast Asian style salad. The flesh is crunchy and watery in texture, similar to cucumber, chayote or green bell pepper. The skin is tender and edible. The fruit is most often eaten green. Although it can also be eaten when it has started to ripen and turn yellowish, it becomes more bitter as it ripens. The fully ripe fruit turns orange and mushy, is too bitter to eat, and splits into segments which curl back dramatically to expose seeds covered in bright red pulp.
Bitter melon comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The typical Chinese phenotype is 20 to 30 cm long, oblong with bluntly tapering ends and pale green in color, with a gently undulating, warty surface. The bitter melon more typical of India has a narrower shape with pointed ends, and a surface covered with jagged, triangular "teeth" and ridges. Coloration is green or white. Between these two extremes are any number of intermediate forms. Some bear miniature fruit of only 6 - 10 cm in length, which may be served individually as stuffed vegetables. These miniature fruit are popular in Southeast Asia as well as India.

[edit] Culinary uses

A small green bitter melon (front) and a scoop of Okinawan gōyā champurū stirfry (back)
Bitter gourd (boiled, drained, no salt)
Nutritional value per 100g (3.5 oz)

Energy 20 kcal 80 kJ

Carbohydrates 4.32 g
- Sugars 1.95 g
- Dietary fiber 2.0 g
Fat 0.18 g
- saturated 0.014 g
- monounsaturated 0.033 g
- polyunsaturated 0.078 g
Protein 0.84 g
Water 93.95 g
Vitamin A equiv. 6 μg 1%
Thiamin (Vit. B1) 0.051 mg 4%
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.053 mg 4%
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.280 mg 2%
Vitamin B6 0.041 mg 3%
Folate (Vit. B9) 51 μg 13%
Vitamin B12 0 μg 0%
Vitamin C 33.0 mg 55%
Vitamin E 0.14 mg 1%
Vitamin K 4.8 μg 5%
Calcium 9 mg 1%
Iron 0.38 mg 3%
Magnesium 16 mg 4%
Phosphorus 36 mg 5%
Potassium 319 mg 7%
Sodium 6 mg 0%
Zinc 0.77 mg 8%
Percentages are relative to US
recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
Bitter melons are seldom mixed with other vegetables due to the strong bitter taste, although this can be moderated to some extent by salting and then washing the cut melon before use.
Bitter melon is often used in Chinese cooking for its bitter flavor, typically in stir-fries (often with pork and douchi), soups, and also as tea.
It is also a popular vegetable in Indian cooking, where it is often prepared with potatoes and served with yogurt on the side to offset the bitterness, or used in sabji. Bitter melon is stuffed with spices and then fried in oil, which is very popular in Punjabi Cuisine. It a popular food in Tamil Nadu and referred as பாகற்காய் (Pagarkai) slangly called as Pavakkai பாவக்காய். Bitter Gourd is popular in the cuisine of South Indian state of Kerala. They use it for making a dish called thoran mixed with grated coconut, theeyal and pachadi. This is one common medicinal food for diabetics.
Bitter melon is rarely used in mainland Japan, but is a significant component of Okinawan cuisine.
In Indonesia, bitter melon is prepared in various dishes, such as stir fry, cooked in coconut milk, or steamed.
In Vietnam, raw bitter melon slices consumed with dried meat floss and stuffed to make bitter melon soup with shrimp are popular dishes. Bitter melons stuffed with ground pork are served as a popular summer soup in the South.
It is prepared in various dishes in the Philippines, where it is known as Ampalaya. Ampalaya may also be stir-fried with ground beef and oyster sauce, or with eggs and diced tomato.
A very popular dish from the Ilocos region of the Philippines, pinakbet, consists mainly of bitter melons, eggplant, okra, string beans, tomatoes, lima beans, and other various regional vegetables stewed with a little bagoong-based stock.
The young shoots and leaves may also be eaten as greens; in the Philippines, where bitter melon leaves are commonly consumed, they are called dahon (leaves) ng ampalaya.
The seeds can also be eaten, and have a sweet taste; but are known to cause nausea.
In Nepal bitter melon is prepared in various ways. Most prepare it as fresh achar (a type of salsa). For this the bitter gourd is cut into cubes or slices and saut