Note: This week's bitter gourd or bitter melon has also been requested by Joana and Alda Known as one of the most bitter vegetables in the world,bitter gourds have a very distingushing taste!
1. Young immature bitter gourds are the best for cooking: the skin is bright green in color, the flesh inside is white, and the seeds are small and tender. However, the pith will become sweet when the fruit is fully ripe, and the pith's color will turn red. The pith can be eaten uncooked in this state, but the flesh of the melon (fruit) will be far too tough and too bitter to be eaten anymore. (Note: Choose unripe bitter melons that are firm,like how you would a cucumber.)
2. The typical Chinese phenotype is 20 to 30 cm long, oblong with bluntly tapering ends and pale green in color, with a gently undulating, warty surface. The bitter melon more typical of India has a narrower shape with pointed ends, and a surface covered with jagged, triangular "teeth" and ridges. Coloration is green or white. Between these two extremes are any number of intermediate forms. (Note: The smaller variety is more bitter than the bigger one.)
3. Clean your bitter melon under cold running water and brush with a soft vegetable brush. To prepare, slice the melon length-wise and scoop out the seeds. To lessen the bitter flavor, soak it in salt water for about half an hour before juicing/cooking.
4. Keeping bitter melons at room temperature or with other fruits and vegetables will hasten the melon to ripen and become more bitter, due to the emission of ethylene gas.
5. A “bitter gourd face” is a common Chinese expression describing a serious or sad face.