Bitter Melon

by | Apr 8, 2011 | Uncategorized | 37 comments

Ingredient Name:

Bitter Melon, bitter gourd, momordica charantia, 

Traditional Chinese Name: 苦瓜 (Kǔguā)

Nature: Cooling

Targets: Heart, Lung, Spleen, Liver

The bitter melon is a long green melon that has a ridged skin, white flesh, and a soft middle where the seeds are contained.

An interesting fruit to say the least. I actually DO NOT enjoy the taste of bitter melon (at all), but some people actually LOVE it! This is a very unique melon in that you can find it in soups, stews, teas, drinks, and various Chinese dishes across the spectrum.

What is a bitter melon?

  • Usually long, green and bumpy to texture (although some varieties are also yellow) – which also varies the bitterness
  • It is bitter to taste (even after being cooked)
  • The Chinese types are usually 20-30 cm in length
  • The bitter melons are consumed both cooked (in soups, stews, or fried dishes) and raw (either in salads or health drinks)

How do you prepare them?

  • Rinse in warm water
  • Half and remove all seeds
  • Cut into edible portions for soups or cooking
  • To reduce the bitterness of the melons, you can pre-soak in slightly salted water for 20 minutes prior to use

Where can I buy it and cost?

      • You can purchase these fresh from most Asian supermarkets
      • These are also available in the local Hong Kong wet marts
      • I recently purchased 2 medium sized bitter melons at T&T in Toronto for $2.40 CAD
      • Tip:  You can actually grow your own if you have a garden.  They are a vined plant and save the leaves as they make for a health drink to clear heat and various aches and pains

Any benefits?

      • Helps remove heatiness and eliminate heat from the body (ie: liver heat)
      • Aids in digestion and stimulates appetite
      • Helps clear inflammation
      • Nourishes the blood and clears the Qi
      • Contains a significant amount of anti-oxidants
      • Used to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol
      • A very diverse melon that can be eaten in a variety of Chinese dishes, stews, and soups, including cold dishes such as salad and health and herbal drinks

Any precautions?

      • Avoid during pregnancies (it is a contraindication), especially during the first trimester as this is a very cooling ingredient (which can cause contractions)

      • Be sure to remove all seeds before consuming as can be toxic (especially with children)

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