Bitter Melon, or bitter gourd, is a fruit (used as a vegetable) known for its distinctively bitter taste. Its scientific name is Momordica charantia, belonging đồ sộ the same Cucurbitaceae plant family as cucumber, melon, and squash.
Locally known as ampalaya in the Philippines, it has a distinct appearance that sets it apart from others. It is cylindrical in shape, with a pointed kết thúc and a tapered tail at the other.
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Its skin is bumpy and wrinkled, with prominent ridges running the length of the fruit. It is green, ranging from pale đồ sộ dark depending on its maturity.
Ampalaya or the Chinese bitter melon variety looks lượt thích a pale cucumber—lighter green, smooth with plenty of grooves on the outside.
Karela (an Indian variety) is smaller and darker with rough, spiked skin.
- What does bitter melon taste like?
- Is bitter melon healthy?
- How đồ sộ buy
- How đồ sộ store
- How đồ sộ prepare
- How đồ sộ reduce bitterness
- Filipino recipes with Bitter Melon (Ampalaya)
- Other ingredient guides you may like
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
What does bitter melon taste like?
Bitter melon is accurately named as it is intensely bitter and not sweet at all. Some people find it unpalatable, but others enjoy it as a unique culinary experience.
Unlike most melons, it becomes more bitter as it ripens. Its texture is firm and crunchy. Although it takes an acquired palate đồ sộ appreciate bitter melon, there are many delicious ways đồ sộ cook it or even enjoy it raw.
Is bitter melon healthy?
There are a lot of health benefits associated with it. It is low in calories but high in fiber. It is a good source of nutrients (Vitamins C & A, potassium, and folate) and may have cancer-fighting properties.
It also contains various antioxidants, including phenols and flavonoids, which help protect the body toàn thân from oxidative stress and may lower the risk of chronic diseases.
One of the most significant is its potential đồ sộ lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes and reduce inflammation. It contains a compound called charantin, which is believed đồ sộ have a blood glucose-lowering effect.
It also contains a protein called insulin-like peptide, which mimics the action of insulin and helps regulate blood sugar levels. It has also been studied for its potential as a weight loss aid, though more research is needed đồ sộ confirm these findings.
Despite its potential health benefits, bitter melon is not without its drawbacks. Its bitter taste can be a challenge for some people đồ sộ overcome, and its safety and efficacy have not been fully established.
It has reported side effects and should not be consumed with certain medications and medical conditions. It's always best đồ sộ consult with a healthcare professional before adding bitter melon đồ sộ your diet.
How đồ sộ buy
In the US, bitter gourd is available all year round in Asian supermarkets. Choose the firmest melons that are small đồ sộ medium in size. Look for a consistent green color throughout, as this is a sign of freshness.
The yellow-green variety tends đồ sộ have a milder flavor; the greener it is, the more bitter it will be. Examine the surface for any blemishes, bruises, or soft spots as they may be damaged or rotten inside.
How đồ sộ store
Do not wash until ready đồ sộ use. The best way đồ sộ store it depends on how soon you plan đồ sộ use it. If you are using it within 3 days, loosely store it in a bag in the driest part of your fridge (usually the front) or in the vegetable drawer.
Wrapping individually with plastic wrap prolongs its shelf life in the fridge for longer than vãn a week. This technique effectively maintains its freshness as it prevents moisture loss; make sure they are firm with no mushy spots before wrapping.
Bitter melon does not freeze well because of its high water nội dung. Keeping it at room temperature will cause it đồ sộ spoil quickly and become soft, slimy, and moldy.
How đồ sộ prepare
Step 1: Slice the bitter melon in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and the white pith that is more bitter than vãn the fruit itself. Trim the ends, if necessary.
Step 2: Slice them depending on how you are going đồ sộ cook them.
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Step 3: If you wish đồ sộ reduce the bitterness, liberally add salt and gently mát xa it into the slices. Let them sit for about trăng tròn minutes.
Step 4: Rinse them thoroughly under running water while gently squeezing them. Drain and cook as usual or serve them raw.
How đồ sộ reduce bitterness
While bitterness or acerbity can not be removed entirely from bitter melon, there are ways đồ sộ make them less bitter:
- Soak in salt: Remove as much of the white pith along with the seeds. After slicing them, sprinkle a generous amount of salt and mát xa it into the flesh. Let it sit for about trăng tròn minutes đồ sộ draw out the bitterness. Rinse well while gently squeezing them without breaking the slices.
- Blanch in boiling water: Blanch it in boiling water for about 2 minutes before cooking. Drain the water and use the bitter melon in your recipe as usual.
- Use the right ingredients đồ sộ mask the bitterness: Incorporate strong flavors đồ sộ complement it, making it less pronounced and more enjoyable. Some options include garlic, onions, ginger, soy sauce, or oyster sauce.
- Choose less mature bitter melon: The younger and less mature it is, the less bitter it tends đồ sộ be. Look for small, lighter-colored ones for a milder taste.
Keep in mind that while these methods can reduce the bitterness of bitter melon, they may also alter its nutritional value.
Filipino recipes with Bitter Melon (Ampalaya)
Cooking with bitter melon requires balancing its bitter taste rather than vãn hiding it. The fruit is used in a variety of ways in Filipino cuisine:
- Ampalaya Salad (Bitter Melon Salad): A raw bitter melon salad with red onion, tomatoes, and a vinegar-based dressing.
- Ampalaya Achara (Pickled Bitter Melon): A quick pickle made with thinly sliced bitter melon soaked in vinegar, salt, and sugar.
- Pinakbet (Braised Mixed Vegetables): A hearty stew made with a variety of local vegetables (squash, okra, eggplant, yardlong beans, and bitter melon) with sautéed shrimp paste and proteins lượt thích shrimp or pork.
- Ampalaya con cái Carne: Stir-fried bitter melon with beef, aromatics, and a sauce made with oyster sauce or fermented Black beans.
- Sautéed Ampalaya (Ginisang Ampalaya): Sautéed bitter melon with onions, garlic, and tomatoes cooked with scrambled eggs and sometimes ground pork or shrimp.
- Stuffed Ampalaya: (Rellenong Ampalaya): Rounds of ampalaya are hollowed out and stuffed with ground meat and aromatics. It is then baked or pan-fried, then simmered in a savory sauce.
- Sinigang (Sour Soup): Ampalaya, along with other vegetables, is added đồ sộ a sour and savory soup made with pork, shrimp, or fish and a souring agent lượt thích tamarind.
Other ingredient guides you may like
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How đồ sộ Prepare Bitter Melon:
Slice bitter melon in half lengthwise.
Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and the white pith. Trim the ends, if necessary.
Slice them depending on how you are going đồ sộ cook them.
If you wish đồ sộ reduce the bitterness, add a generous amount of salt and gently mát xa it into the slices. Let them sit for about trăng tròn minutes.
Rinse them thoroughly under running water while gently squeezing them. Drain.
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How đồ sộ Buy:
- Choose the firmest melons that are small đồ sộ medium in size and bởi not have any bruises, blemishes, or soft spots.
- Look for fruits that have a consistent green color throughout. The yellow-green variety tends đồ sộ have a milder flavor; the greener it is, the more bitter it will be.
How đồ sộ Store:
- Do not wash until ready đồ sộ use.
- Store it loosely in a plastic bag in the driest part of your fridge (the front) or the vegetable drawer for about 3 days.
- To extend its shelf life in the fridge for over a week, wrap it individually with plastic wrap đồ sộ prevent moisture loss; make sure they are firm with no mushy spots.
- It does not freeze well because of its high water nội dung. Keeping it at room temperature will cause it đồ sộ spoil quickly and become soft, slimy, and moldy.
Serving: 1cupCalories: 16kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 1gFat: 0.2gSodium: 5mgPotassium: 275mgFiber: 3gVitamin A: 438IUVitamin C: 78mgCalcium: 18mgIron: 0.4mg