There are many types of bitter melon in the world, each type has a special and each own uses. However, it has shown many benefits in life from making a dish, eaten raw to producing medicine and supplement for health care. Two of them are white bitter melon and forest bitter melon, they are really special more.
White bitter melon
White Bitter melon is easily recognized by its bumpy, warty oblong-shaped skin, giving the initial appearance of a malformed white cucumber. Even its flesh can be misleading, bearing a spongy seed cavity looking more similar to that of cucumber than of a melon. And unlike any other melons, Bitter melons do not require peeling. The fruit’s flesh is pale green to white in color and contains layers of flat white seeds which will turn red as the fruit matures. The bitterness in the melon is about the only flavor that the melon delivers. This bitterness is not a uniform bitterness and can range from fruit to fruit.
Generally, the younger the fruit, the more bitter. Large, riper fruit will be more mellow and the flesh will become spongy.
White Bitter melon is commercially available in Asia.
White Bitter melons, Momordica charantia, are essentially the same as Bitter Green melons and bear no difference outside of their coloring. Bitter melons are a member of the Cucurbitaceae (gourd) family, and a relative of squash and watermelon. The fruit is also known as Mah-Ra Jeen and balsam pear, though it has no similarities to a pear.
The reference to Bitter is a direct reflection of the level of quinine in the fruit. Bitter melons contain a concentrated amount of quinine; which incidentally is a reason why it is highly regarded among Asians, Panamanians, and Colombians as a cure (and preventive medicine) for Malaria.
Bitter melon is rich in iron, beta carotene, calcium and contains substantial levels of vitamins C and B. Virtually everywhere that the Bitter melon grows, it is used medicinally. It is believed to be good for the liver and has been proven medically to contain an insulin-like compound, polypeptide P and to lower blood sugar levels. It contains antiviral proteins, has anti-tumor properties and is used to treat colds, coughs and fevers.
Though White Bitter melons are often eaten in the Winter, they should be enjoyed during the summer months as they are considered a cooling vegetable. It is recommended to salt the flesh to reduce bitterness; though this does affect the texture, nutrient level and the flavor of other ingredients that it is paired with. Bitter melon is used as a flavor-enhancing addition to recipes as its distinct bitter flavor can often be too astringent and sour to consume in large quantities.
Bitter melons are often used as an ingredient in curries, soups and stews. It pairs well with eggs, potatoes and chiles and it is often prepared as the main vegetable alongside lamb, boar, goose and duck as the bitterness will cut the richness and gaminess of these meats. Always slice the melon thin to reduce the bitterness of each bite.
Bitter melons may be an acquired taste among Western palates, however, this flavor is celebrated and craved in Asian cultures. Bitter melons are a mainstay in Asian produce markets, especially in the hot summer months.
Bitter melon is native to the tropical areas of Asia, Africa, India, the Caribbean, and South America. It is now cultivated and naturalized in nearly every tropical region throughout the world from both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres. In China, Thailand, the Philippines, and other Asian countries the fruit is a common home garden vegetable, often plucked from the vine at the gherkin-sized stage and eaten whole.
Forest Bitter Melon
Forest bitter melon or also known as bitter melon. This is a type of plant that grows in mountainous areas and wilderness areas. But now, forest bitter melon has been planted in many localities across the country. Forest bitter melon has cool properties, bitter taste, in the composition contains many nutrients. The vitamins have more than a normal bitter melon.
- The body can be 2 to 3 meters long.
- Leaves are from 5 to 10 cm long, 4 to 8 cm wide, alternately growing, the leaves are often divided into 5-7 lobes, and the edges are serrated. The lower surface is paler than the upper surface, on the veins of short hairs.
- Flowers are yellow, male and female flowers often grow separately on leaf axils.
- The fruit is 8 to 10 centimeters long, rhomboid, the outer surface has many spines. The fruit is ripe when it is pinkish-yellow, and if not main, it is dark green.
In general, bitter melon is similar in size to ordinary bitter melon but has smaller stems, leaves and fruit, and a more bitter taste.
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