Bitter Melon Fruit
The bitter melon is a tropical/subtropical herbaceous tendril bearing vine with yellow flowers, and is a member of the squash family. The fruit itself is oblong in shape with a pockmarked and warty exterior, looking like a cross between a cucumber and a gourd. It is grown specifically for the cultivation of its fruit, which is thought to be the bitterest edible fruit in the world. The seeds, leaves, and vines have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, but only the fruit is primarily used today.
Bitter melon is a popular ingredient in Asian cooking, used to flavor diverse recipes including stir-fries, curries, soups, soft drinks and beers. The recipes vary from country to country, but it is a lively and important part of regional cuisine. The bitterness of the melon may make the fruit unpalatable to some folks, but the potency can be reduced by salting, blanching, or pickling.