Harvest: More On The Bitter Melon

It is winter time, January in South Florida, and a two week cold snap finished off the last of my Bitter Melon or Bitter Gourd plant. I wrote about this crop while I was growing it in the article In The Garden: Growing Bitter Melon.

I want to share what I learned about this crop as well as some harvest pics.

Although bores destroyed all of the cucumbers I planted nearby they left the Biter Gourd crop alone though it is in the same cucurbitaceae family. I think the smell of the Bitter Gourd plant makes it unappealing to insects. This crop lasted for several months and made mad delicious gourds, lots of them. The plants I put under the Avocado tree did not do as well as the crop that grew on the fence. The idea is sound, but the soil beneath the tree is not as good as the soil I made in the mound at the fence.

Stir frying this vegetable until tender enough to eat was taking too long, and so once it was cut into pieces I steamed it for about 8 minutes before tossing it into the skillet with the black bean sauce and oil. Then, since I had water left from the steaming process I used that water in the sauce. I found that the more I ate the Bitter Melon Gourd the more I craved it, and my husband went from being turned off by the flavor of the Biter Melon to enjoying it whenever I cooked it.

I found that it was better for me if the vegetable did not begin to turn orange at all before I harvested it because it kept longer in the refrigerator, but if I harvested when the seeds were ripe the gourd was more tender and cooked faster than if the seeds weren’t yet ripe. So the trick was to harvest when the fruit was ripe but not over ripe. Though I often harvested and ate gourds before the seeds were fully developed.

The variety of Bitter Gourd seed I bought is called Comet. It is a hybrid variety so I did not save any seeds. I bought the seeds from Johnny’s Select Seeds. All of the seeds germinated, and the plants grew quickly and fruited for a long time.

Kitazawa Seed Co. is my Asian vegetable seed hook up. They have a large selection of Bitter Gourd varieties. I am getting some of their Bitter Gourds seeds to plant this summer so that I can get an heirloom variety and save some seeds for the next time around. I am hoping there is such a thing.