Bitter Melon or Bitter Gourd

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Blog entry by sharad posted 02-25-2012 11:21 AM 5994 reads 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This season I selected Bitter Melon for my vegetable garden as we have developed taste for this ‘not liked by all’ vegetable. The bitterness can be removed by squeezing and masked by addition of spices. Several recipes are possible to suit your taste. Bitter melon also called bitter gourd is probably the most bitter of all fruits, and yet one of the most nutritious too. It is a climber and requires good supports for spreading. It’s scientific name is Momordica charantia and belongs to Cucurbitacea family. It thrives in hot and humid climate. It has a distinct appearance because of it’s elongated shape and warty surface. It turns yellow to saffron on ripening It is very popular in Indian and many other country’s cuisine. It has many medicinal properties. It is bitter because of high concentration of quinine.



Ripe fruit and seeds

Ripe fruit opening for dispersal of seeds

Seeds look brown or white after the red skin goes

Size of fruit depends on variety


-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

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1671 posts in 3062 days
hardiness zone 11

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8 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


14694 posts in 3845 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 02-25-2012 11:46 AM

oh my… how intriguing!!!
What beautiful colours – from start to finish.

-- - Debbie, SW Ontario Canada (USDA Hardiness Zone: 5a)

View daltxguy's profile


882 posts in 2942 days
hardiness zone 4a

posted 02-26-2012 01:29 AM

Very interesting plant!
If it contains quinine, then it should it should also fluoresce ( it would glow under a blacklight) and be effective against malaria. I guess it must not have as much quinine as the cinchona tree bark, otherwise it might have become a commercial source of quinine.

congratulations on a nice crop and a nice set of pictures from flower to fruit to seed.

-- Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. - Thoreau

View Radicalfarmergal's profile


4312 posts in 3107 days
hardiness zone 5b

posted 02-26-2012 04:15 AM

Thank you for introducing me to this plant. Your -photos show it very clearly and I think it is a beautiful plant. Knowing how to prepare food to bring out its best qualities is important too. Attractive, healthy and delicious, who wouldn’t want to grow such a plant? Enjoy them!

-- "...I have nothing against authorities as such; I am only in favor of putting a question mark after just about everything they say." Ruth Stout

View justjoel's profile


1063 posts in 3225 days
hardiness zone 7a

posted 02-26-2012 09:27 AM

Fascinating little melon – lovely colors. Think I’ve seen seeds offered here in a couple of catalogs, and pictures of the spiky fruit. Didn’t know much about them, however.

-- "We are stardust. We are golden. And we've got to get ourselves back to the garden." Joni Mitchell

View countrygal's profile


364 posts in 3642 days

posted 02-27-2012 11:58 AM

I grew these 2 years ago,and I must say,the only way we could eat it is jullienne and added to stir frys.Mine were the ones in the last pic, very easy to grow though!

-- Southwestern Ontario Canada Zone5b

View chscholz's profile


156 posts in 2728 days
hardiness zone 8

posted 02-27-2012 04:11 PM

Watching this with great interest.

We did tried to grow bitter melon in Northern TX for the last two years. In 2010 they sprouted well but the plants virtually stopped growing after they ware about 30 cm high, never flowered.
We did forget one plant in a pot out in the back yard. This plant survived the winter with one week hard frost but never grew during summer. The summer of 2011 was exceptionally dry and many plants struggled to survive, the bitter melons were one of the plants that did not make it.

I think there are two possible explanations: 1) we got the seeds from bitter melon bought at the local Asian store. Whatever cultivar this is, it might not be good to grow in our climate/soil, or maybe not good seeds to grow at all or 2) we do have plenty of heat out here but not much humidity, maybe humidity is essential for bitter melons?

BTW, if you cut the bitter melon into slices, mix them with a little salt and let them sit for 10 min or so, this will make the squeezing easier/more efficient.

Concerning the health benefits of bitter melon, I met an Caucasian American couple in my favorite Asian store once who were looking for bitter melons. This is rather unusual, most Caucasians do stare at the fish section but only buy candy in Asian stores. So ended up chatted a bit. It turns out that they juice the bitter melons; drinking the juice, so they say, is one of the best ways to reduce cholesterol.

Please keep us posted on the progress!


View sharad's profile


1671 posts in 3062 days
hardiness zone 11

posted 02-27-2012 09:58 PM

Thank you all for your responses. Chris, I don’t think the weather conditions in N.TX is the cause of your failure to get flowers on the vine. Here where I am growing bitter melon (Pune city) the summer is harsh and the relative humidity also is not high. Pl get new seeds and try again. As Countrygal says it is easy to grow. Squeezing is certainly easy/efficient by the way you suggest. The medicinal properties of the melon are well documented.


-- Bagwan-- “If someone feels that they had never made a mistake in their life, then it means they have never tried a new thing in their life”.-Albert Einstein

View Bon's profile


7374 posts in 3625 days
hardiness zone 5a

posted 02-29-2012 09:32 AM

Very interesting melon Sharad.Thanks for sharing it with us.

-- Bon,Hastings, 5a....Always room for one more

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