Fu QuaThe bitter melon, also known as the balsam apple or karela, is a large fruit with bumpy green skin. It has a warty surface and white seeds set in the orange pulp. In shape, it may be round, pointed, or elongated depending on the variety. Many varieties of bitter melon have yellow fruit.
Bitter melon is a vine, and needs support to climb on. In-home gardens can be grown next to a wall or trellis, or allowed to scramble over the leaves of other plants. In many Asian cuisines, it's often stir-fried or pickled for use as a condiment. Bitter melon is also used as herbal medicine to treat diabetes and other conditions.
The bitter melon, also known as the balsam apple or karela, is a large fruit with bumpy green skin. It has a warty surface and white seeds set in the orange pulp. In shape, it may be round, pointed, or elongated depending on the variety. Many varieties of bitter melon have yellow fruit.
It is a native of Asia but is now widely grown in Africa and Oceania as well as areas of the United States with a large immigrant population from southern Asia who enjoys its distinctive flavor. It is also known as balsam pear or bitter gourd.
In many Asian cultures, the fruit is sliced into small pieces and cooked with meats or vegetables to counter the strong flavor. The seed is eaten as a snack by local people in India. Bitter melon is sometimes pickled for use as a condiment, which makes it more palatable to some people who find the raw fruit too bitter or unpleasant tasting. For others, the pickled product is too bitter.
In some areas, it is believed to have medicinal properties and even reputedly causes hallucinations if consumed in excess! It is also said to be effective against diabetes and high blood pressure.
Bitter Melons can be stuffed with a savory filling or used as a replacement for chilies in certain Indian dishes. They can also be cooked like zucchini or eggplant, breaded, and fried in oil for a few minutes.
Bitter melon is an acquired taste but once introduced to this fruit it becomes addicting in the way that Sichuan cuisine in China often does to those first experiencing these dishes. The distinctive and strong flavor can be a new taste experience for many people and some may not like it at first, but even when it is disliked its presence will evoke memories from the smell that remains when cooking the fruit.