So tomorrow I am doing my second only market tour of Rapid Creek markets, for those not familiar with the produce…
One of the produce always asked about is the Bitter gourd/ bitter melon.
I have yet to perfect this into a dish everyone likes, but I have transformed this curious fruit into a few things I think are yummy. First up here are some facts-
- Also known as bitter cucumber, bitter gourd or balsam pear this fruit is in the cucumber family
- This plant originates from South East Asia where it is still eaten the most in China, Thailand and India. It is also found in cuisine in the Pacific Islands and Africa.
- The Bitter melon is the fruit of a climbing vine
- It is eaten green, but when ripe it is turns bright orange in its outer flesh and inside has bright red seeds
- It grows all year and loves water
How to grow
- Bitter melon is easily grown from seed. Fruits will develop 6 weeks after planting. The vine can go wild. The fruit has to ripen and then produces bright red fleshy seeds. Wash off the flesh!
- It needs a trellis to climb up and likes a full sun position.
- Fertilise with organic fertiliser occasionally
When to plant them/ grow them
- These can be planted all year round, but loves humid conditions (wet season) especially.
How to eat them
- The fruit is eaten when 5- 10 cm long when pale green in colour.
- When younger the fruit can be boiled and served as a green veggie, when old the bitterness increases; this can be reduced by salting and squeezing out excess moisture.
- Bitter gourds are popular stir-fried (particularly with egg) – Chinese and Thai style, but they are also stuffed and baked, often with pork mince. Indian cuisine stuffs the gourds with spicy tomato and veggies.