Popular in China, India and South Asia, the Bitter Melon, a member of the curcurbit family, is used for its leaves as well as fruits for medicinal and culinary purposes. Also known as bitter gourd, foo gwa, balsam pear, cundeamor, fwa-kwa, leprosy pear, or bitter cucumber, its medicinal uses include treatment of diabetes, cardiovascular health and as an anti-malarial medication. Bitter Melons are just one of the many Asian vegetables that are being ‘trailed’ at research stations like Simcoe across Canada in order to make shopping at home easier for Canada’s large SE Asian immigrant community. The bonus is that these great veggies add a whole new flavour palate for shoppers who’d otherwise have no idea what to do with them.
Optimal results can be obtained by growing Bitter Melons in the warmth and protection of a greenhouse.
With files from Simcoe Research Station publication “New Crops, Old Challenges: Tips and tricks for managing new crops!” and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Image provided by Prof. Glen Filson.