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Health Benefits of Bitter Melon ~ Cooking with Bitter Melon ~ Amazing Plant

Updated on October 31, 2016

Bitter melons

Bitter melons
Bitter melons | Source

Bitter melons along with other produce for sale in an Asian grocery store, Houston, Texas.

Bitter melons along with other produce in an Asian grocery store
Bitter melons along with other produce in an Asian grocery store | Source

What is Bitter Melon?

That question crossed my mind when my husband and I were recently shopping for some fresh fruits and vegetables in an Asian market located in Houston, Texas this past week. We have been experimenting with purchasing some food items of which we are unfamiliar, and have made some nice discoveries along the way.

The large store is called the 99 Ranch and it is located at the intersection of Interstate 10 and Blalock. The parking lot is always filled to the brim and sometimes it takes a while to find a parking space.

A few other cubicles within the store are filled with retail shops including one that sells ceramic teapots and other Oriental décor items; an optical shop and another that sells purses and jewelry. One can dine inside of the store...something we have not yet tried...and there is a bakery. But the vast space of the store is filled with an amazing array of fruits and vegetables, aisles of different types of rices, noodles, spices and a myriad of other interesting looking offerings and a huge fish market and meat market in the back of the store.

It is a fun place for those who know all about Oriental food ingredients and wish to acquire what they need to prepare meals. The 99 Ranch is also a place for adventurous types who wish to learn more about Asian foods. We have been gradually experimenting with new additions to our diet and bitter melon was among some of my most recent purchases.

Bitter Melon...

Bitter Melon

I noticed quite a few people adding bitter melon to their shopping carts and noticed that this wrinkly fruit was on sale, so despite the name I picked out 2 of them and sauntered through the rest of the store adding other things to our basket. While in the checkout lane I asked the lady standing behind us if she knew what to do with the bitter melons.

Her eyes lit up and she said that she primarily adds them to smoothies with various kinds of fruit. She also said that they could be sliced thinly and made into a salad with some vinegar and olive oil. She did advise that to cut a bit of the bitter taste, one could parboil the slices in salted water for a couple of minutes first.

So...with that brief information in hand, I created my version of a bitter melon salad. I often create my own recipes and love to experiment. I thought that it might be a nice accompaniment to some roasted duck that we were planning on having that night.

Bitter melon salad

Bitter melon salad
Bitter melon salad | Source
4.8 stars from 8 ratings of Bitter melon salad

Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 2 min
Ready in: 12 min
Yields: 2 medium bitter melons serves 4 or more people

Mini red peppers

Mini red peppers are what I used in this recipe.
Mini red peppers are what I used in this recipe. | Source

Ingredients to make bitter melon salad

  • 2 medium bitter melons
  • 1/2 to 1 large red pepper, sliced
  • tarragon vinegar
  • fresh chives
  • fresh tarragon
  • light olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • sugar

Nutrition of bitter melon all by itself

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 cup (93 grams)
Calories 16
Calories from Fat0
% Daily Value *
Fat 0 g
Saturated fat 0 g
Unsaturated fat 0 g
Carbohydrates 3 g1%
Sugar 0 g
Fiber 3 g12%
Protein 1 g2%
Cholesterol 0 mg
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Instructions on making the bitter melon salad

  1. Wash and dry the bitter melon and slice off both ends.
  2. Using a sharp knive, slice through making small approximately 1/8 inch in diameter rounds. Remove any seeds from the middle.
  3. Boil the slices in salted water for a minute or two and drain in a colander rinsing with cold water. Dry on paper towels.
  4. Slice a half of a large red pepper or more, if you like, into strips and add to a bowl along with the bitter melon.
  5. Add a small amount of fresh garden chives and some fresh tarragon (all according to your taste) to the mixture. Chop the chives and cut or tear the tarragon leaves into several pieces depending upon the size of the leaf.
  6. Sprinkle a little tarragon vinegar and light olive oil over the mixture (about 2 parts oil to 1 part vinegar) and season to taste with salt, freshly ground pepper and a dash of sugar.
  7. Chill in the refrigerator as desired or immediately plate and serve.

Curing Type-2 Diabetes by Juicing Bitter Melon

Bitter melon salad

My homemade bitter melon salad
My homemade bitter melon salad | Source

Health Benefits of Bitter Melon

Bitter melon goes by many different names, some of which include the following: Bitter apple, Karela, Bitter gourd, Wild cucumber and balsam pear just to name a few. The scientific name is Momordica charantia.

Growing in the tropical and sub-tropical regions of Asia, Africa, India, China and even the Caribbean, it is a perennial plant known by many naturopathic healing practitioners for its benefits in treating and possibly even preventing many different diseases.

Some of the claims relate to addressing some of the following conditions:

  • Type two diabetes
  • Digestive aid
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Anti-malarial qualities
  • Viral infections
  • Menstrual disorders
  • HIV and AIDS
  • Psoriasis
  • Fever no way is any of the information presented in this hub intended to take the place of good medical advice. Please consult your healthcare practitioner for more information about using bitter melon in your diet.

Karela - Bitter Melon (Another way to prepare and serve bitter melon)

Karela Fry bitter melon

Do you think that you will be trying some bitter melon recipes?

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Curiosity Killed the Cat

Remember that old saying?

While this amazing plant and gourd-like fruit is reputed to have health benefits, one must always be safe rather than sorry when it comes to taking advice from non-professionals. After all, we do not have nine lives like cats are reputed to enjoy.

Some of the precautions to be taken according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center should be heeded! Pregnant women should not be consuming bitter melon nor should children be eating the seeds. Read the link regarding more precautions advised to the right.

The health benefits are exciting and apparently many universities and health institutions have people studying the bitter melon's beneficial effects on humans. More world-wide studies are scheduled to be conducted.

Is the bitter melon rightfully named? Yes indeed! It is bitter and is certainly an acquired taste. I must admit, after the salad that I made had marinated in the juices another day, it seemed milder than at first when initially eaten.

There are many other recipes...some of which incorporate ground meats and plenty of spices that I might try in the future. Soaking the bitter melon in salt first and then squeezing the liquid out of it and then rinsing it in several batches of water might also help reduce the bitterness.

Am I ready to try more Asian foods from the 99 Ranch store? Absolutely!

It is fun trying new foods and whether they are instantly appealing or one needs to learn how to coax the more appetizing flavors from is an inexpensive culinary adventure that can tantalize the taste-buds and enrich one's food knowledge from around the world.

Small sampling of other recipes...

© 2012 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed.

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 20 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi SweetiePie,

      If the 99 Ranch store near you is anything like the one we visit in will be amazed at the variety of items you will find there! We have lots of little Mexican markets but to my knowledge we do not have a Cardenas. The best deals on avocados that I have found in our area is at Aldi's. 29 cents or as high as 39 cents certainly beats the prices in other grocery store! We stock up on them there as well as some of their other fresh produce.

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 20 months ago from Southern California, USA

      There are some 99 Ranch stores near where I live, but I have never been. I have been to smaller Asian markets in my area, and there are good deals to be had on produce. Another store that I like in my area is Cardenas, which sales Mexican food, and also has a food court. They have a bakery where they make fresh tortillas, and a wonderful produce selection. I always find the best avocados there.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 23 months ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi peachpurple,

      Nice that you have been introduced to eating bitter melon in that way. It is reported to have great health benefits.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 23 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      We started to eat bittermelon after dining at a chinese restaurant, wonderful veggies

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Au fait,

      I am also having problems with leaving comments and/or sharing. Some seem to register and others do not. Thanks for trying! As to seeing emails, my gmail account has so many thousands of notices that I hardly pay attention any longer. I guess I should check it once in a while.

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