I was inspired to make something from bitter melon when I saw it at my farmer’s market. It is such a pretty vegetable! I like to try cooking with at least one new food a week. I love learning not only about how different foods grow but about their country of origin and traditional uses as well as nutritional value and what can be done with them in terms of cooking. Once I started to research the bitter melon I found many recipe ideas as well as some interesting facts about its great nutritional reputation.
Bitter melon fun facts:
- The pods are characterized by smooth lengthwise ridges and uneven pebbly surface. Depending upon the cultivar type, immature pods are light to dark green and have oblong or oval shapes with a pointed tip at the blossom end. Internally, the flesh is white with rough edged seeds, somewhat similar to ridge gourd seeds. As the fruits begin to mature, they gradually turn yellow or orange.
- Bitter melon is a temperate /tropical vegetable probably originated in South-East Asia. Like other members of the Cucurbitaceae family, this plant is a fast-growing, trailing or climbing vine with thin stems and tendrils and requires trellis to support the climbing vine.
- The vegetable is very low in calories, providing just 17 calories per 100g. Nevertheless, its pods are rich in phytonutrients like dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants.
- Bitter melon notably contains phyto-nutrient, polypeptide-P; a plant insulin known to lower blood sugar levels.
- Bitter melon is the immature pod vegetable, popular in many Asian countries. This is widely grown as an edible pod is. in fact, it is among the most bitter of all culinary vegetables.
- Fresh bitter melon is an excellent source of vitamin-C.
- Bitter melon stimulates easy digestion.
For more information please visit the Bitter melon council.
Bitter Melon Pickles:
- 4 medium bitter melons
- Juice of 2 Limes
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 Tblsp. prepared grainy mustard
- 3 Tblsp. brown mustard seed, toasted in a skillet
- 1 mango, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup pineapple, diced
- ½ c. ginger, peeled and grated
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1 red chilli pepper, seeded and chopped
- ½ cup olive oil (reserve until after flavors meld for one week)
Seed bitter melon by slicing it lengthwise and scraping the seeds out with a spoon. Blanch bitter melon slices in boiling salted water for 3 minutes; drain and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, apple cider vinegar, mustard and mustard seeds. In a large bowl, toss together the bitter melon, mango, pineapple, ginger, garlic, red pepper; stir in lime juice/mustard mixture.
Place mixture into canning jars with lids and let sit in the refrigerator for up to one week to let the flavors meld. After one week, top off each jar with olive oil so that the mixture is completely submerged. Enjoy for 3-4 months. Just keep topping off with olive oil as needed to keep the air out.
Note: This chutney is delicious served with lamb, a curry dish or a hearty vegetarian stew.
This recipe was inspired by a recipe on bittermelon.org.