I first saw this spiky bitter gourd or bitter melon in Fraser's Hill about 3 months ago. I haven't seen this spiky bitter gourd before and instead of being deterred by the weird spiky appearance, I got curious and was attracted to it. The plant was growing along the fence and I found a small over-ripe fruit on the ground. I picked it up hoping to find some seeds in it for me to take home to germinate. Once we reached the bungalow we were staying in, I opened the fruit and I was very happy to find 3 precious matured seeds inside.
These were my first 2 fruits harvested from my garden, from the plants germinated from the seeds I brought back from Fraser's Hill. I waited for the first fruit to ripen to get good quality seeds for future germination.
2 seedlings germinated from the seeds brought back from Fraser's Hill.
I planted the seedlings in a big pot. I have to tie temporary strings for the plants to climb as they grow.
It was exciting to see the pretty bright yellow flower and the thin long fruit forming.
The yellow flower has dried up and waiting for the fruit to grow.
Pretty green leaves.
The young fruits are dark green in colour.
So happy to see the plants bearing more fruits.
Bitter gourds or bitter melons are very popular in Asian countries. When I was young, I do not eat bitter gourds because I found them very bitter. But as I grow older, I later acquired the liking for bitter gourds and now I love them.
According to the elderly people, anything bitter is good for health. Bitter gourds have many health benefits. They are commonly used for treating diabettes and for regulating blood sugar level.
Bitter gourds are low in calories and they are also rich in high fiber and vitamins A, C & etc.
Since I planted them in a flower pot, I didn't expect them to be so fruitful!
The fruits are more bitter when they are green. As the fruits grow more matured or ripen with yellow or orange colour, the bitter taste will be slightly reduced.
I used normal garden soil with good drainage. I water the plants once a day. If the weather is very hot, then I will water them twice a day. I feed them with fertilizers about once every 2 weeks. For this round, the plants didn't encountered any pests problem.
When the colour of the fruits changed to a lighter shade or light yellow, I harvested the fruits from the plant. It will remain fresh if kept in the fridge for a few days to a week. But the colour will change from green to yellow if kept too long in the fridge.
The longest fruit harvested from my plants (grown in pots) is about 9 inches long. The ones I saw in Fraser's Hill are much longer. probably about a foot long.
A closer look to see the spikes on the fruit.
Compared to the other smaller specie found in the local market, this spiky specie is more bitter. If you want to reduce the bitter taste, you can salt it for a few minutes after slicing and then rinse off the salt before cooking them. You can also blanch the slices in hot water for a few seconds, then place them in ice water before cooking.
The fruits have to be cooked. They can be roasted, deep fried, stuffed, stir fried, cooked in curries, in omelettes, soups or steamed. In their raw state, they can be juiced.
Once the fruits are matured, the membrane covering the seeds will turn red.
These are removed from the fruits. I removed and discarded the red membrane called arils and kept the dried seeds for germinating.
Some parts of the fruits are beginning to turn yellow or orange.
For cooking, I sliced the fruits thinly. I didn't salt or blanch the slices because we didn't mind the bitter taste.
These seeds were collected from the fruits and they will be used for future germination. Some of these seeds will be given to my gardening friends who have already booked them.
Plant the good seeds of righteousness,
and you will reap a crop of my love;
plow the hard ground of your hearts,
for now is the time to seek the Lord,
that he may come and shower salvation upon you.
(Hosea 10:12, The Living Bible-TLB)