Bitter Gourd

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Also known as bitter melon and balsam pear, the bitter gourd is unlikely to feature on many peoples top ten of favourite foods. Its taste is an acquired one with a distinct bitterness, which increases with age, so always use or buy young gourdís as the older ones are quite unpalatable.

Bitter Gourd

Grown in India, throughout Southern Asia, China and the Caribbean, they are rich in vitamins and minerals and are an important part of Ayurvedic medicine and is said to help cure blood disorders, fungal diseases and digestive disorders.

There are different varieties to be found throughout Asia but the most common is the Chinese bitter melon, which is recognisable by its knobbly, light green skin. Cut them in half lengthways and remove the seeds, which are inedible. They can be sliced into equal sized pieces and cooked in boiling salted water for three to four minutes. Some suggest salting them prior to cooking to help remove the bitterness, I have tried this over several hours and found it made little difference. Serve them as a vegetable in its own right, they are too bitter to serve alongside others or add to stir-fries, soups or curries.

Content and picture © Miles Collins