What do you think of the headline for my Bitter Melon Juice? Did I get it right? I am sure you are a bit curious about what I mean by that.
One of the pleasures of visiting a Pick-Your-Own farm is finding treasures. By treasures, I mean vegetables and fruits. Varieties are endless, and it is fun to learn about every plant.
Okay, I may be exaggerating! I don’t think we all have time to learn about all plants. It would be a good idea to at least learn about a few as they may contain many health benefits.
What is Bitter Melon
Bitter Melon carries its name well. You probably have seen melons that are green and not yellow or orange. Bitter melon has several names. It is known as bitter gourd, bitter apple, wild cucumber, bitter cucumber, balsam apple, balsam pear, margose, la-kwa, leprosy gourd, karela, kugua, and cerasee. If you have some free time, it is worth learning about this wonderful plant or fruit as some may say.
It grows in the Caribbean, Asia, South America, and East Africa. In these areas, in particular, it has been widely used for medicinal purpose and consumed both as fruit and vegetable. The green melon is used in cooking, and the reddish-orange is mostly used as a juice or a milkshake.
The melon turns reddish-orange if it stays attached to the plant too long. The melon does grow green and change color after. Farmers pick the melon when they are green.
I will not say that the reddish-orange bitter gourd has an acquired taste. It is definitely not! You will probably eat it or consume it as a drink for health reasons. The taste is bitter hence the name bitter gourd.
How it has been used
“Bitter melon has been used as a folk remedy for cancer, asthma, skin infections, stomach problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes symptoms. The plant has been used as a traditional medicine in China, India, Africa, and the southeastern US. In the 1980s, the seeds were investigated in China as a potential contraceptive.” (https://www.drugs.com/npc/bitter-melon.html)
The Health Benefits
Although Bitter Gourd or melon is usually referred to as a fruit, it also contains properties of a vegetable. It has been found to contain nutrients that may lower blood sugar and aid in diabetes. It also contains vitamins C, A, E, B-1, B-2, B-3, and B-9; minerals like potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron, and antioxidants like phenols, flavonoids, and others
Bitter Melon can cause side effects as well. It can also interfere with other medications. Make sure you consult your doctor first.
Some of the risks associated with the fruits are:
- Diarrhea, vomiting, and other intestinal issues
- Vaginal bleeding, contractions, and abortion
- Dangerous lowering of blood sugar if taken with insulin
- Liver damage
- Favism (which can cause anemia)
And again, I would advise speaking to your doctor about consuming the green or reddish-orange bitter gourd or melon as a fruit or a vegetable.
To remove the bitterness in the green Bitter Gourd, it is recommended to scrape off the rugged surface, remove the seeds and slice the melon. When sliced, rub lots of salt onto the pieces and let sit for about 20 to 30 minutes before cooking. This will draw out some of the bitter juice in the green melon. You can also soak the pieces in diluted yogurt for about 1 hour before using.
Same process for the reddish-orange Bitter Gourd, with the exception of the salt. You can use it in a salad or as a beverage.
Check out this recipe shared by a fellow blogger: Bitter Gourd and Okra Stir Fry.
My recipe and experience
Looking at the rows and rows of bitter melon plants was astonishing. I regret not taking a photo. Maybe next year.
What was surprising to me is how quickly the melon opened up by itself. At the farm, there were so many on the ground and open that I thought it was because they fell off the branches. That was not the case.
As soon as I arrived home one melon had already started showing its reddish seeds. I also thought to myself that it probably got crushed in transit. Again, not the case! All the melons started to open one after the other. It was as if they were communicating with one another. CREEPY!!!
I decided to try my hands first at tasting it. Not a good if you don’t scrape off the rugged skin. It is a must! Although it was not as bitter as the green melon, the taste was still intolerable. I also tasted the seeds. They tasted a bit weird at first. A bit slimy, sweet and bitter at the same time. Not bad at all if you are only eating just a couple.
I was afraid to waste the melon and decided to add freshly frozen pineapple chunks. What a delight! This was by far the best way to enjoy this melon and to continue my love and hate relationship with Bitter Melon.
Check out my recipe with the reddish-orange Bitter Gourd.