Foo Gwa (Medium Spindle Bitter Melon)
Latin Name: Momordica charantia
Item #: 422M
BITTER MELON FOO GWA Momordica charantia
This unique vegetable has been used as an ornamental vegetable for many years in the western world. Immature fruit are shiny green in color, rinds are lumpy, smooth and look like a whitish-green squash when mature. Over-mature fruit turn yellow like cucumbers when they are past their peak and should not be eaten. Foo Gwa is a vine crop and may be trellised like tomatoes or squash if space is at a premium. Foo Gwa is a warm weather crop that should be started indoors in pots for early summer crops, about 20 days before the last spring frost then transplanted outdoors into warm moist soil after danger of frost. Treat it just like you would a Summer Squash. Young 6 in/15 cm long fruit should be ready for harvest about 75 days from seeding, Later crops are possible from outdoor June sowings in warmer areas.
CULTURE: Soak seeds overnight in warm water or scratch the seed coat lightly to permit proper moisture penetration before sowing outdoors or in pots, 1 in/25 mm deep at 2 seeds per ft/31 cm of row. Seeds should germinate in 10 to 14 days, depending on soil temperature. Warm 70°F/21°C. soil is ideal Fertilize once every 2 weeks. Keep well watered during dry periods and pick fruit regularly to keep plants producing. Plants will tolerate clay soils, but are more responsive in sandy loam. When seedlings are 3 in/8 cm tall, thin or transplant 12 in/31 cm apart. Space rows 4 ft/122 cm apart.
HARVEST: Just like zucchini pick the fruit when they are about 4-6 in/10-15 cm long. At this stage they have a slightly bitter taste, which becomes more pronounced as they mature. As you become more accustomed to the taste, try some of the longer, mature, whitish-green fruit.
COOKING: Remove the seeds and fiber, cut in halves or circular sections and stuff with shrimp, crab or ground pork Parboil a few minutes before cooking, to lighten the tangy lemon flavor. Foo Gwa blends well with just about any meat or sea food and may also be stir-fried or cooked, braised or steamed with garlic combinations.