Bitter gourd is a member of the family cucurbitaceae which include the other vine crops; Oriental pumpkin, hairy melon, Oriental cucumbers, wax gourd, and luffa.
Bitter gourds are native to Southeast Asia and are sometimes called bitter cucumber, bitter melon, karalla, or balsam pear and have only recently found their way into Western kitchens. They are usually pale green in color and resemble a warty cucumber.
Bitter gourd gets its name from the extreme bitter flavor due to the presence of quinine and consuming bitter melon is often an acquired taste.
What to Look for When Purchasing
Choose fruit that are firm. They will be dark green, bright green or white, depending on the variety.
Bitter gourds will last for up to a week in a perforated plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.