General description

Momordica charantia (colloquially: bitter melon; bitter apple; bitter gourd; bitter squash; balsam-pear); is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean for its edible fruit.

When can I pick it?

The fruit is most often eaten green, or as it is beginning to turn yellow. At this stage, the fruit’s flesh is crunchy and watery in texture, similar to cucumber, chayote or green bell pepper, but bitter. The skin is tender and edible.

Seeds and pith appear white in unripe fruits; they are intensely bitter and can be removed before cooking.


In Chinese cuisine, bittergourd is valued for its bitter flavor, typically in stir-frys, soups, dim sum, and herbal teas.

It has also been used in place of hops as the bittering ingredient in some beers

Tipically cooked : stir-fried with spices, cooked with roasted coconut, with curry, deep-frying with peanuts or other ground nuts, in omelet.


  • In Turkey, it has been used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments, particularly stomach complaints
  • In traditional medicine of India, different parts of the plant are used as claimed treatments for diabetis (particularly Polypeptide-p, an insulin analogue), and as a stomachic, laxative, antibilious, emetic, anthelmintic agent, for the treatment of cough, respiratory diseases, skin diseases, wounds, ulcer, gout, and rheumatism.
  • Used for cancer prevention, treatment of diabetes, fever, HIV and AIDS, and infections.
  • When consumed in raw or juice form, can be efficacious in lowering blood glucose levels
  • Might decrease cholesterol levels
  • Also used for colic, fever, burns, chronic cough, painful menstruation, skin conditions

One cup (94 grams) of raw bitter melon provides :

  • Calories: 20
  • Carbs: 4 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin C: 93% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Vitamin A: 44% of the RDI
  • Folate: 17% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 8% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 5% of the RDI
  • Iron: 4% of the RDI

Side effects

  • Reported side effects include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, hypoglycemia, urinary incontinence, and chest pain. Symptoms are generally mild, do not require treatment, and resolve with rest
  • Bitter melon is contraindicated in pregnant women because it can induce bleeding, contractions, and miscarriage.

Pictures from the garden

Categories: Plants