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Bitter Melon
Bitter Melon


Botanical Name: momordica charantia

bitter gourd, balsam pear, bitter cucumber, kerala

Cantonese - foo gua, foo gwa, fu gwa, fu kwa
Hindi - karela
Hmong - dib lab
Japanese - niga uri, goya
Mandarin - ku gua, ku gwa
Vietnamese - kho qua, muop dang

How to Grow

Bitter melon is a vine with bright yellow/orange flowers best grown in full sun.  Plants prefer the support of a fence or trellis, but does not require it.  Plants can be set out once danger of frost has passed.

During the growing season, bitter melon likes lots of water.

How to Use

Young leaves can be harvested and cooked as greens.  The bitter melons can be harvested according to taste.  When picking bitter melon a good rule of thumb to follow is - dark ones are immature, orange ones are overripe and light green ones are just right.  The immature fruits are less bitter than the more mature fruits. 

Once the fruit looses its green color, leave it on the vine for the ornamental effect.  The fruit will mature, turn color, split open and reveal vivid orange colored pith with red seeds.

Used fresh, bitter melon can be stir-fried, made into soups and stuffed with a filling and steamed.  When using bitter melon, hollow out the center by removing the pith and seeds.  
Dried, bitter melon can be used for detoxifying teas.

Medicinally, bitter melon stimulates digestion and is considered a good detoxifier.

Flavor friends include pork.


Bitter melon is technically considered a fruit because is contains seeds.


Do you have a favorite recipe, comment or use for this herb?  If so, tell us about it by leaving a comment below!



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