Bitter melon

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Bitter melon
Missing image
Charantia_flower.jpg
Bitter melon


Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Magnoliopsida
Order:Violales
Family:Cucurbitaceae
Genus:Momordica
Species:M. charantia
Binomial name
Momordica charantia

The bitter melon (Template:Zh-cp), also called bitter gourd, balsampear, or balsamapple, is the edible fruit of the plant Momordica charantia. The bitter melon grows in tropical and subtropical climates. The fruit is green (orange-yellow when ripe) and has warty appearance and oblong shape. The name bitter comes from the bitter taste of the vegetable considered the most bitter among all edible vegetables.

The vegetable is 10 to 20 cm long with tapering ends and covered with blunt tubercles. The seeds are white in raw fruits and become red when they are ripe. There are two varieties of this vegetable. The large kind is long, oblong and pale green in color. The other kind is small, litte oval and dark green. Both turn reddish-orange when ripe.

The original home of bitter gourd is not known except that it is a native of the tropics. It is widely grown in South and south east asia as well as in China and Caribbean. It is often used in Chinese cooking for its bitter flavour. It is also cultivated extensively all over India and a type of chips called karela chips are quite relished. It is however seldom mixed with other vegetables due to its extreme bitterness.

Bitter melons also have various uses as traditional medicine around the world, and has potential use for treating HIV infections. Bitter melon is also used often in Okinawan cuisine; it is called gōyā in Okinawa. In Indian ayurvedic medicine, it is popularly seen as a "plant-insulin" and is thus highly recommended for diabetics. Even in western medicine due to its high nutrition content it is advised that patients take this vegetable regularly.

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