Supermarkets are all calling it something different, but whether it’s labeled as bitter melon, bitter cucumber, bitter gourd, goya, balsam pear, karela, or Momordica charantia, its immense nutritional benefits remain the same. The funky-looking, trendy summer fruit is loaded with an alphabet of vitamins and minerals that aid weight loss, reduce inflammation, and help treat type 2 diabetes, one of the top ten leading causes of death worldwide. (The fruit contains polypeptide-P, a phytonutrient that lowers blood glucose levels and charantin, a compound with hypoglycemic properties.) Eating the stuff has also been shown to improve psoriasis and fungal-like infections such as ringworm and athlete’s foot. Bonus: When mixed with ginger, lemon, and honey, the fruit also makes for a killer hangover terminator. And with just 16 calories per cup, it’s basically the ultimate weight loss super fruit.
Now that we have covered the bitter melon’s plethora of health benefits, let’s delve into the most important part: how to select and prepare one!
STEP 1: LOOK FOR A YUMMY ONE
The greener the melon is, the more bitter it will taste. If it’s more on the yellowish-orange side the flavor will be more mild.
STEP 2: WASH IT
Give that bumpy surface a good ol’ scrub under cool water to remove dirt and pesticide residue.
STEP 3: SLICE, CORE, AND SALT IT
Slice the melon in half, core it, and then lightly sprinkle it with salt. Let it stand for about ten minutes before cooking or blending. The sodium will help slash the intense bitter flavor, making it more palatable.
STEP 4: COOK OR BLEND
Bitter melon should be cooked like a zucchini, squash, or bell pepper. Be creative and try out a few methods: steam it, roast it, or throw it in a stir-fry, omelet, or soup. For the best flavor, The National Bitter Melon Council suggests pairing it with garlic, chili peppers, and coconut. However, if you’d rather use it to make something more sweet and refreshing, it also fairs well blended into a fruit and veggie smoothie. The options are quite vast—so have some fun and experiment!