“You should grow some bitter melon” is what Aabir told me when we were catching up on the phone.
I’m a strong adherent to #bitterbetter so I was easily convinced.
Aabir sent me some seeds he’d kept from his own garden.
The original seeds came from his mother who got them from a cousin in India. They came with no name or specific story. They might be from a mass market source or be a funky local variety.
We planted the seeds in the Tourne-Sol greenhouse.
Bitter melon is in the cucurbit family – just like cucumbers, zucchini, squash and melons.
And they grow like cucumbers – happily climbing up a trellis or whatever is in their way. They didn’t take long to turn into a wall of green vines with yellow flowers and hanging green warty fruit.
If you’ve never eaten bitter melons, you can pick them when they are green.
Open them like a pepper and core out the seeds. Next, slice into small pieces and fry with garlic. Add to whatever you’re eating.
Yes, they do have a bitter taste – the flavour reminds me of very strong green peppers. I love it. My family won’t touch it.
If you’re already familiar with bitter melon, then I’m sure you have better recipes than mine.
When you don’t harvest bitter melons in time, they overripen to a bright colour and the fruit will get soft. Kind of like a tomato or pepper does.
But unlike tomatoes or peppers, the fruit opens its jaw wide and regurgitates bright red seed capsules.
A stunning sight and I’m glad they don’t have teeth because they look like they’d have quite a bite.