Aloun Farms
91-1440 Farrington HwyKapoleiOahu(808) 677-9516Website
HSN Farm
WaianaeOahu(808) 696-2040
Pit Farms
Simok Farm
Vilath Farm
Wally's Farm
495 Pakala StreetHonoluluOahu808-395-1223 Website


KCC Saturday Farmers Market
4303 Diamond Head RdHonoluluOahu(808) 848-2074Website
Kailua Farmers' Market
609 Kailua Road(Parking lot near Long's and Pier 1)KailuaOahu(808) 848-2074Website
Mililani Farmers' Market
Mililani High School95-1200 Meheula ParkwayMililaniOahu(808) 848-2074Website
Ala Moana Farmers' Market
1450 Ala Moana BoulevardHonoluluOahu(808) 388-9696Website
Honolulu Farmers' Market
Neil Blaisdell Center777 Ward AvenueHonoluluOahu(808) 848-2074Website
KCC @ Night Farmers' Market
Kapiolani Community College4303 Diamond Head RoadHonoluluOahu(808) 848-2074Website
Kailua Town Farmers' Market
315 Kuulei RoadKailuaOahu808-388-9696Website
Wahiawa Farmers' Market
Wahiawa Hongwanji Mission parking lot1067 California AvenueWahiawaOahuWebsite
Hawaii Kai Farmers' Market
Kaiser High School511 Lunalilo Home RoadHawaii KaiOahu(808) 388-9696Website

Bitter Melon (Goya, Ampalaya, Foo Gua, Ma Rah Jeen, Ko Qua, Bitter Gourd, Karavella)

Though similar in size and shape as a cucumber, with its warty, wrinkled bright green skin, bitter melon sure stands out.  Yes, it is an acquired taste.  Its infamous bitterness comes from an organic compound – the alkaloid momordicine – which increases in intensity as the bitter melon ages on its vine.

Bitter melon is part of the gourd family which includes squash and melons. Though we treat it like a vegetable, it is officially the fruit of a vine plant.  In some farmers markets and Asian markets, can can also find bags of fresh shoots and leaves of the bittter melon plant for sale, also very edible.

Bitter melon comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The Chinese variety is the size and shape of a cucumber, light green, with bluntly tapered ends and signature warty skin.  Here in Hawaii we are also lucky to be growing the smaller dark green bitter melons that are popular in Filipino, Cambodian, Thai and Indian cuisine.

Known as goya in Okinawa, bitter melon is credited as contributing to the longevity and sharp mindedness associated with the benefits Okinawan cuisine and philosophies of living.  It is chockful of iron,  potassium, calcium and betacarotene. It is also thought to be a blood cleanser and a liver booster.

Prepping & Eating Tips

– Always wash your bittermelon before preparing.

– Slice only immediately before use

– If stir frying, cut the bitter melon lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and white pith with a spoon.  Skin is edible.  Slice diagonally into 1/4 inch thick, C shaped pieces.

– If stuffing, cut into sections and remove seeds and pith carefully with a spoon.

– Blanching or salting for a few minutes first will reduce bitterness. Blanch or parboil for three minutes, soak in salt water, or rub with salt and let sit for a few minutes before cooking.

– Bitter melon can be stewed (like in pinakbet) and stir fried.  It can be added to curries and soups.

– Hollowed out in little log sections it is good for stuffing with meat or seafood and cooked.

– It makes a delicious namasu with seaweed and thinly sliced onions.

– Young shoots and leaves can be stir fried or added to soups.

Selecting & Storing Tips

Look for unblemished bitter melon, free of brown or yellow.  It it thought that younger bitter melon is less bitter.

Store bitter melon loose in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Key is to avoid moisture build-up with can lead to rot.

Morsel of History

Bitter melon has also been used at a bittering ingredient in beer brewed in Okinawa and China – as a locally grown replacement for hops.

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